Rarest of the Rare

Roshni Mathew   |   March 5, 2015 

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Name: Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab
Date of birth: 13 July 1987
Date of death: 21 November 2012
Cause of death: Execution by hanging

On November 2012, there was much media attention roused by the hanging to death of Ajmal Kasab, who was executed at the hands of the State for his involvement in the Mumbai 26, 2011 attacks. Following this, a year later, Afzal Guru, another alleged terrorist was hung, pinned responsible for an attack on the Parliament in 2001. Recently, with the occurrence of the infamous gang rape against “Nirbhaya”, rape is now punishable by the death sentence.

In India, there is a precedent of law that is followed, wherein it is only in the “rarest of rare” cases that the death sentence can be imposed as an exceptional penalty. It is further stated that in cases such as murder, life sentence shall be the rule and death sentence shall be the exception.

As a believing Christian, I often turn to the Bible to form my opinion on issues. As a student of law, I have been asked my opinion on the death sentence several times. I remember the discussion that followed on one particular occasion with a law student who was in his Masters. My response to him was that I was against the death sentence. He seemed hurt, in fact offended, that I would feel so. He asked me whether I was OK with a “person like Kasab” being allowed to live after the horrific acts he’d committed against the people of Mumbai.

The truth is, my opinion is based solely on one principle--that every single person is deserving of death. I am aware of the dual reality that I live in, one physical and the other (mostly hidden) spiritual realm that influences the way I think and perceive things. When I see a man hanging on death row, I think to myself – does this man deserve it any more than me? The sad truth is that I am a “person like Kasab”.

Sure, I may not have bombed a building, or committed acts of treason, but I have committed the act of adultery. No, not adultery against my husband, but in the larger scheme of things, I have been unfaithful to God, my Maker. I have “rejected my first love” (Revelations 2:4). I have cursed God when I have cursed man. I have cursed God when I have subconsciously considered His plans as futile and chased my own dream. Sin . . .  it’s that inescapable reality that condemns me as being guilty as charged.

Leviticus 20 talks about the punishment for various sins: "Stoned to death", "Cut off from the people". Reading this chapter in isolation one could easily mistake the heart of God as being ruthlessly strict and terrifying. When you read the books preceding Leviticus, it makes more sense.

When God gave these laws to the Israelites, he knew they would be broken. He gave the Israelites these laws keeping the past and the future in mind. He knew their scandalous past and he knew what their future held as they moved into a foreign land, where the culture celebrated practices such as child sacrifice and incest. God’s heart was to protect the ones He loved. He also knew that no one could fully follow the commandments He had given.

By the standard of God’s holiness every single human being would fall to the gallows, every single one stand on death row.  Which is why God chose one man, His only Son, upon whom to pour out His wrath against the sin of all mankind. Therein lies the heart of God, as explained in the latter part of Leviticus 20, where He says, “You are to be holy to me because, I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

Knowing you and I would never be able to adhere to the law, and we wouldn’t be able to attain God’s perfect Holy standard, God made a way for each one of us on death row, to be pardoned and to be made “holy” like Him. He establishes the most beautiful covenant through His son, so all of us who are “like Kasab” could become His children. Not his servants, not his friends, but family, adopted to be God’s very own.

I often use this analogy to myself and to others when I try to describe what Jesus did. In a court of law, where a “person like Kasab” is considered without a doubt guilty of waging war against the State, pardon is unlikely. But in the spiritual realm of affairs, the Judge, impartial, fair and eternal, allowed for one innocent person to pay the penalty of the guilty. The guilty are pardoned and forgiven, while the innocent Son of God has been broken and been executed “like Kasab”.

I do not mean to say that Kasab is as innocent as Jesus; rather every one of us is as guilty as Kasab in the eyes of God. God is the only rare one who was willing to see me as my future, glorified self. So, despite the punishment that has been prescribed, He also offered an alternate to make the ones he loved “holy”. Even if physically there is death that is the eventuality for every single person that lives on earth, eternity meets those who live because of Christ.

I do believe that when Jesus said, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, he implied that the law of the land be respected. If the Indian law prescribes the death sentence, it is a godly thing to respect and submit to the law. But it is also right to view every person “like Kasab” in light of what the Father did to His son, when he treated His case as the “rarest of the rare”.

I was “like Kasab”. I am saved by grace. I am to be made like Christ.

 

The post reflects the views of the author on an issue with possibly differing opinions so we encourage gracious dialogue! 

 

Photo Credit: Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity via Flickr cc

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Roshni Mathew

Roshni is a full time wife and mother who lives in Mumbai with her husband and daughter. They are a part of New City Church, Mumbai where they worship and serve. Roshni loves cooking, the colour purple and travelling.

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