It’s strange to me how people think of Jesus as being so loving he would never say a harsh word, or that every interaction with him would be somehow pleasant.
I often wonder what Jesus they’re talking about.
I suppose if calling a group of religious leaders “snakes” and a “brood of vipers” is gentle, then Jesus was gentle (see Matthew 23:33 for that story if you’re interested). Moreover, he had the strength and exceptional humility to die on a cross for sins he didn’t commit. Nice people would never make it that far; it takes too much faith, steely determination and utter reliance on God.
I’ve heard many people say they can’t believe that Jesus, who was so kind and loving, would allow anyone to go hell.
And yet Jesus actually taught more on hell than any other figure in all of scripture. No one seemed more passionate, concerned or direct about hell than Jesus. He even told haunting stories like the one in our passage today.
So why is that?
Might it be because hell is real and because Jesus loves you?
Think about it; if you really love someone, you tell them things they might not want to hear because you don’t want to see them get hurt.
The greatest cruelty is indifference. And it’s the often the toughest conversations that lead to the greatest transformation.
Did you ever think that that you knowing about hell might be a sign of God’s love for you?
Because he not only told you about it, he showed you a way in Jesus to move from death to live, from being alone to being in relationship, and a way to move from an eternity apart from Christ to an eternity with Christ.
In the strangest kind of way, maybe that’s true because he loves you.
Belong – Because you can belong before you believe.
Sometimes we include people in a conversation because we care about them. How deeply do you believe that Jesus cares about you (personally)?
Believe – Because those who belong often start to believe.
Do Jesus’ teachings on hell help you believe more in his love for you, or less?
Become – Because those who believe can become someone new.
If Jesus talked to us about hell because he loved you, how might that impact future conversations you might have with other people?
Dear God, I thank you for your willingness to have difficult conversations with the people you love, including me. Thank you that your wish for me is that I wouldn’t perish, but have everlasting life through Christ. Amen.