Recently, I decided to treat myself to a movie. Having a great interest in World War 2, I chose “Operation Finale”, the true story of the capture of the high-ranking Nazi officer, Adolph Eichmann, often referred to as the “Architect of the Holocaust”.
Eichmann, who fled to Argentina immediately after the war, was captured in 1960 by the Israeli Intelligence organization known as Mossad.
Much of the movie revolved around Mossad agent Peter Malkin’s developing relationship with Eichmann as Malkin spent many hours talking with him, in an effort to get him to sign his release from Argentina so he could legally be taken to Israel and tried for his crimes.
Not a monster, but a human being
Malkin stated that his conversations with Eichmann helped him to realize that the former Nazi was not a monster but a human being, which made Eichmann’s actions during the war even harder to comprehend. Malkin later commented that “a monster can be excused for his behavior . . . The problem is not how a monster could do it, but how a human being did it.”
How easy is it to get swept away?
Hard to digest, isn’t it? That although we as believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, our broken, sinful nature still sways us toward evil. Good and evil do reside together in each of us. I often wonder, if placed in “the right circumstances” how easy it would be for me, or for any of us, to be swept into evil – evil thoughts, evil actions . . . all clouded in rationalization, fear, anger or protection. Eichmann repeatedly said, “I was just following orders, as I was taught to do”.
How different are we really from each other and from those we consider as horrible as a man like Adolph Eichmann?
I love Paul’s verse in 1 Timothy 1:15, as he describes himself, now a devoted apostle and disciple of Jesus.
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
So, if this describes Paul, does it not also describe each of us?
And if so, what then does it mean when we see someone doing something we deem evil. Immediate judgement, shame and harsh correction? Pointing a finger and stating, “I can’t believe anyone could do such a thing?”
Or is it understanding our own broken humanity and the gift we’ve received through the sacrifice of Jesus, and inviting others into that same relationship, with love and grace, and a full understanding of “it could be me”.
When I ask Jesus what he would do…
I don’t see His judgement. I see His sacrifice. I see Him leveling the playing field and inviting us all into a relationship with Him.
We are all the same at the foot of the cross.