It could have been me. Right there next to the bullet-ridden door and behind the police tape that now decorates what was once the Bataclan café. For many it was a place of life and joy and music. For me it was a place of ministry. It was where I was sitting a little while ago talking about Jesus to an Israeli Jew searching for the truth. It was there that, comically enough, someone tried to steal my bag while I was opening the Scriptures.
Many Parisians are saying, “It could have been me”. My colleague Karl deSouza can say, “It could have been my daughter, Elisabeth.” She wanted to go to that very same concert on that very same evening with her friends, but her parents put their foot down. My brother-in-law, Ariel, lost a friend to the bullets on that fateful evening. A friend of mine’s daughter was also at the concert, and was trampled in the melée as people rushed at her. She was released from the hospital recently and is fine.
Many people are saying, “It could have been me.” When we are sharing the gospel with people, we are trying to get them to understand something similar. The Scriptures say, “It should have been you.” Jesus died in our stead. He died so that we might live and have forgiveness of sins.
This is what Philippe understood last Friday. We hosted a spontaneous Shabbat prayer meeting for those who needed comfort and a place to talk. Philippe had come to a previous meeting after seeing our large “Juifs pour Jésus” sign. He grew up in a rather religious Jewish home, but never felt like he quite fit in. He was always attracted to poetry and to a wider cultural life than what Judaism offers. When he saw the bold sign on the window display he couldn’t help but stop by. Our dear brother and colleague Karl deSouza has since been faithful in studying the Bible with him.
Philippe is still being discipled, but last Friday the Paris terrorist attacks helped him understand that Jesus died for him, in his place…not in a senseless unwilling manner, but as a willing sacrifice for his sins. Out of the darkness, and these dark times, the light of the Messiah still shines “so that [we] may proclaim the praises of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).