In addition to Hallie Scruggs, the mass shooting claimed the lives of two other third-graders, a custodian, a substitute teacher, and the head of the school. Police killed the shooter, a 28-year-old former student at the school.
Three weeks before the Nashville shooting, Pastor Scruggs preached a sermon titled “Death’s Conqueror,” based on Jesus weeping when his friend Lazarus dies (John 11:35). In that Lenten message, the pastor asked, “How do we face death in our world, especially untimely deaths, without the pain and confusion of death leading us to despair?”
Jesus wept out of both compassion and anger, Scruggs told worshipers. “Jesus hates death, and Jesus doesn’t just hate death theoretically,” he said. “Jesus hates death in his body, and Jesus hates death in his heart.”
By weeping with his friends, Jesus showed that “he is in it with those who mourn,” Scruggs added. “God himself weeping with those who weep, God not pretending that grief is somehow imaginary or that grief should be hidden or even avoided, but in righteousness Jesus joining his tears to theirs.”
About the Scripture account, Scruggs emphasized that “a strong confidence in the end of the story does not undo or justify the absence of grief in the middle.” Instead, “A mature faith adds its tears to the sadness in our world. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn,’ all the while not losing confidence in how that sadness will eventually be overcome in him.”