In Part Three of this series, we continue to look at passages in the gospels where Jesus portrays either his own actions or those of his Father as acts of violence.
6. Matthew 11:20-24 (Luke 10:12-15)
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.
In this passage, Jesus makes reference to three cities, proverbial for their wickedness, which experienced the judgment of God as related in the Old Testament. There is no critique given here of this judgment. Interestingly, for these older cities, there is a second judgment yet to come. And compared to whatever judgment is in store for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, the judgment waiting for Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum will be that much more severe. This is a judgment which will be executed by God.
7. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
This passage is interesting because not only does Jesus tell the parable, but he also explains it and relates its meaning to his disciples. So, while verses 24-30 are parabolic, verses 36-43 present us with the literal interpretation. Jesus himself, the “Son of Man,” is the one who will give his angels orders to gather together all those who do evil and throw them into the “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It certainly looks like an act of retributive violence.
8. Matthew 13:47-50
47 Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This passage is very similar to the previous one, so no additional comment is needed, other than to note that, of course, the angels are not acting on their own. We should understand that what they do is by the command of God.
9. Matthew 16:25-27
25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
We should note for this passage that there are two kinds of people mentioned. There are those who have gained the whole world, but have forfeited their souls. There are those who have lost their lives for Jesus, and in the process have assured themselves of finding life at the end of the age. When Jesus comes, he will reward both groups for what they have done. Other passages in the gospels let us know what the reward will be for the first group.
10. Matthew 18:5-9 (Mark 9:42-49; Luke 17:1-2)
5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
This passage is similar to the one already looked at in Matthew 5:29-30. Again, the threat that is laid out is that of being thrown into hell.
One of the things that Billy Graham repeatedly impressed on the audiences in his evangelistic campaigns was how much Jesus talked about hell. I don’t remember exactly how he worded things, and he may have exaggerated and overpressed his point. But Jesus does say quite a lot about how both he and his Father will be the ones who will give the commands for the wicked to be thrown into hell. It’s hard to believe how someone can say that Christ came to show us a “God without retribution,” and keep a straight face when they say it.
October 19, 2014