Three bombs exploded on Tuesday killing 31 and injuring 300 in Brussels, Belgium, the heart of the European Union and the headquarters of NATO. Three suicide bombers with possible links to ISIL detonated the bombs in two major transportation centers—two at the airport’s international terminal, and one in a subway station 7 miles away.
The bombings follow on the heels of the arrest of Salah Abdeslam on Friday in Belgium. He is the lone surviving attacker from the Paris bombings which killed 130 people 4 months ago. Some speculate that these latest attacks were hastily accelerated for fear of being discovered in connection with Abdeslam, who is cooperating with authorities.
The organization behind both the Brussels and Paris attacks, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—or ISIL—continues to pursue its agenda through acts of terror and fear. They seek to establish a single Islamic state and control all Muslims, regardless of what country they live in. ISIL seeks to achieve this totalitarian control by force and violence.
The latest Brussels attacks happened during Holy Week, days before Christians around the globe will gather to observe the death of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection. Good Friday and Easter Sunday represent for all Christians a very different way of bringing the Kingdom of God into reality. Instead of violence and destruction, Jesus pursued his agenda through love and suffering. Rather than attempting to violently destroy the Roman Empire that ruled in his day, Jesus suffered death at the hands of the state. He chose to love completely, and endure death, rather than overthrow a government through violent insurrection and the killing of civilians.
In the face of these new attacks from ISIL, Jesus reminds us of a better way—a way that does not inflict suffering on others, but suffers all things to love all people. Jesus knew the suffering he would face, and yet he still chose to go through with it. He explained his reasons to his disciples even as he willingly made his way to Jerusalem, the heart of his own culture, and the place where he would be arrested.
Jesus, now well on the way up to Jerusalem, took the Twelve off to the side of the road and said, “Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive.”
It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
“What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”