We might know him as James Holmes, the now infamous drop out student who violently and brutally murdered twelve people including a six year old girl at the film premier of The Dark Knight Rises. When arrested Holmes confessed to being ‘The Joker’ the arch rival of Batman from previous series. What now seems like a carefully orchestrated attack after weeks of accumulating guns ammunition and body armor the ex-neuroscience student burst into a crowded cinema and randomly shot all round him coinciding with a shooting scene on the screen. What was meant to be a fun family evening turned into a very Dark Night that will not be forgotten soon.
Of course such events are sad and filled with unbearable grief as loved ones come to terms with what has happened. But why did it happen? To others he was fondly known as ‘Jimmy’ a reserved but respectful kind of guy. A fellow football team member described him as ‘hard to get to know him, but once you did, you realised he was funny and accepting of everyone’s faults.’ Holmes’ professor said: ‘…academically he was top of the top…’ The son of successful hard working middle class parents he was ‘just a nice guy’ ‘a good son’. So we might ask what went wrong?
No doubt many answers will be given and people will make much of the fact that he was part of a support group for those struggling with depression, and was under extreme pressure to succeed like his Father. While not dismissing any of these reasons I want to suggest a deeper and more serious one. People refer to him like ‘The Joker’ in the comic series Batman – he’s just pretend and make belief, a fictitious villain. We often see him portrayed as dressed in a red outfit, with horns, a tale and a pitch fork in hand. Of course I’m talking about what the bible calls Satan or The Devil – but Like ‘The Joker’ we don’t really believe in him.
CS Lewis famed for his Narnia series, wrote a book called The Screwtape Letters. It’s a collection of letters from a senior devil (Screwtape) to an apprentice devil (Wormwood). Screwtape’s aim is to help Wormwood guide a man (The Patient) to ‘Our Father Below’ (Satan) and away from our Enemy (God). At one point Wormwood asks Screwtape about their existence. Here is Screwtapes advice:
‘My Dear Wormwood, You asked me whether it is essential to keep The Patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping The Patient in the dark. The fact that ‘devils’ are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that, he therefore cannot believe in you.’
The events at a cinema in Denver Colorado were not fictitious, they were real, bloody and violent, ask any of the survivors. Satan too is real and his desire is to destroy all that is good and beautiful and the way he does that is to get people not to believe in him. No wonder he is described as ‘that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan who leads the whole world astray.’ Revelation 12v9. Not for one moment do I excuse what Jason Holmes did, and blame the devil instead. No, Jason Holmes is responsible but behind him is the work of a very real and sinister ‘Joker’.
The True Knight
Thankfully however the bible also introduces us to a real Hero. The True Knight who has come ‘…that he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil..’ Hebrews 2v14. When Jesus Christ the Son of God came into this world he came to confront Satan and his minions. He came to defeat and destroy his works. Jesus came on a mission of restoration and renewal. He came to rescue people (like me and you) from the grip of Satan and give them new life. This was ultimately achieved through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The True Knight has risen he has defeated him who holds the power of death and offers it to all who will believe.
The Last Laugh
My memories of ‘The Joker’ is a very distorted looking clown with a big laughing grin. Satan may celebrate and laugh at the destruction around this world but his end is guaranteed. Jesus has promised the restoration of all things, a new creation where there will be no more sadness, no more death, no more shootings and no more evil. Jesus Christ will come again ‘The True Knight’ the ultimate ‘Hero’ and he will replace our tears with laughter and silence our enemy forever.
The sooner the world starts believing in the Devil and starts trusting in Jesus Christ the sooner we will see an end to violent and bloody shootings.
May God comfort those who mourn and hold close those who grieve.