The Fourth Bullet

Bob_Anton_Narrow_RoadThe date was March 30th 1981.  John Hinkley Jr., the love struck stalker of actress Jodi Foster, had finally found a way to capture Foster’s attention.  He would assassinate the President of the United States.

On that fateful morning, Hinkley waited for President Reagan to finish a speaking engagement before the AFL CIO.  As Reagan left the building and proceeded to his waiting limo, Hinkley emerged from a crowd of admiring onlookers, firing a 22 cal. revolver with exploding long rifle shells.  He unloaded six rounds in approx. three seconds, striking four people including the President.  

As some of you may remember, none of the injured succumbed to their wounds, although James Brady who was the first to be shot, never fully recovered from his injury.  The second person shot was Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, who was shot in the back.  The third shot missed the President and hit a window across the street.  The fifth shot hit the bullet proof glass of the limo door.  And the sixth and final shot hit the limo but then ricocheted into the arm pit of President Reagan and punctured his lung.  The President was shoved into the limo and rushed to George Washington University Hospital where he would later recover from his close brush with death.

Hinkley was arrested on the spot and after being found innocent by reason of insanity, was remanded to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington DC.  Nearly 30 years later, Hinkley remains a patient of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

I hope you have found this to be an interesting story but what I would really like to talk about is the fourth bullet.  Perhaps you noted earlier that I neglected to mention what happened to the fourth bullet.  The fourth shot fired by John Hinkley Jr., struck Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen.  What I found interesting, although not necessarily surprising about Agent McCarthy’s wound is that he could easily have avoided being shot.  In fact, had he simply ducked, or run in any direction, he would likely have escaped injury.  But Agent McCarthy did neither.  As the first of six shots rang out, McCarthy turned his body 90 degrees, putting his back toward Reagan and standing in the line of fire.  Within a second McCarthy had been shot in the stomach and stumbled backwards onto the sidewalk.  I said that it was not surprising, because that is exactly what Secret Service agents are trained to do.  They must be prepared to, at a moments notice, react and place themselves in the line of fire in order to take a bullet for whomever they are entrusted to protect.

Each Sunday, Christians around the world corporately celebrate the vicarious death, atonement and resurrection of the Christ, Jesus.  A death that he willingly experienced so that you and I would not have to.  Like McCarthy, Jesus was a man under authority.  He made it plain that He did only what He saw His Father doing, and He said only what His Father had instructed Him to say.  The scripture teaches that He was an obedient Son and a suffering servant.  And like Agent McCarthy, Jesus had extensive training to prepare Him for His mission and where that mission would ultimately lead him.  But unlike McCarthy, there was never a question about whether Jesus would someday take a bullet to save those who were entrusted to His care.  “I am the good shepherd” He said, “and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Jesus came into this world for the express purpose of dying on that cross.  To stand in the line of fire, between a Holy and just God and countless numbers of sinful human beings.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1Jn. 4:10

Propitiation is a unique word which is very closely tied to the word atonement, however it carries with it extra meaning.  It means not only to make satisfaction for an injury or offense, but also to pacify or appease.  The bullet that the Lord Jesus took for humanity, on Calvary’s cross, was nothing less than the unmitigated wrath of a Holy God against sin.  Your sin, my sin, the sins of the world.  On the very night He was betrayed, Jesus said:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”   Praise God that Jesus followed through on His words.  Yet the question remains for every man and woman on the planet.  Are you His friend……did He take the bullet for you? Peace with God is but a heartfelt prayer away.  You think about it.

God bless you and……….


See you on the road.

Bob Anton: Christian Motorcyclists Association

For more information on CMA or questions or comments concerning this column, please contact Bob Anton at 631-897-8122 or

Leave a Reply