After this two-week study, I’m convinced that our understanding of judgment and hell is incomplete.
Evil deserves punishment. But no punishment is sufficient for the evil we sometimes experience.
Peter answered [Simon the Sorcerer], “May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God’s gift with money!”
Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it (GNT).
When I first started a two-week study of hell and judgment right before Christmas, it felt awkward and out-of-place.
After yesterday’s tragic shooting, this topic has become timely.
It is not my place to feel anger for others’ losses. This is my first reaction.
But even as I type these words, I’m not convinced.
Maybe it IS my place to be angry.
Maybe anger is an important step toward action.
What got Jesus really angry?
Crooks in the Temple courts. Hypocritical religious leaders.
Jesus reacted much more strongly to others’ suffering than to his own.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”(Jesus, quoted in Matthew 18:6-7, NIV)
Woe to the Webster shooter. Woe to the Sandy Hook shooter. Woe to the mall shooters.
Woe to the thug, the bully, the abuser.
Woe to the selfish, the self-centered, the self-righteous.
When it comes right down to it, woe to me when I do the wrong thing.
The more deeply I reflect upon what made Jesus angry, the more carefully I consider my own faults.
Thank God for the forgiveness present in the Incarnation of Christ.
Woe to the killers.
Peace and humility to those of us who remain. Teach us to live lives of love, not of woe.
My favorite exposition on the subject, by Slacktivist, is found here.
A two-week study.
The word hell does not appear in the Good News translation of the Old Testament. It is in the New Testament 21 times.
In verses 1-4, Jesus gives us a brief glimpse into heaven.
It’s like a mansion “with many rooms.”
This is a picture of abundance and has a very different feel than Matthew 7:13-14.
Matthew 5:1 describes Jesus’ audience in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Crowds follow him to experience his teaching. Jesus emphasizes the difficulty of getting through the narrow gate because his audience is the crowd.
In John 14, Jesus’ audience is his 11 faithful disciples. Despite Peter’s denials in a few hours and everyone else’s desertion, Jesus anticipates their ultimate faithfulness and reassures them.
People on the road to heaven need reassurance. People on the road to hell need reality.
Jesus provides both.