Three weeks ago I introduced a short sermon series (click here to view) about the importance of seeing Jesus as he is portrayed in the Bible, and not just in the way that makes us most comfortable. We all like to think about the Jesus who held babies and forgave sinners and ate dinner at tax collectors’ houses. We may not be as comfortable with “that other side of Jesus”: the one who turns over tables, talks about “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and excoriates the “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”
But in order to read the Bible faithfully, we need to see Jesus as he is, not necessarily as we wish him to be. Tomorrow we’ll look at one of the stories he told, and this one has this interesting and quite scary language: “fiery furnace . . . [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
A fiery furnace? Weeping and gnashing of teeth? Do these words actually come from the mouth of Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”?
Yes, they do, and you may be surprised (or not) to know that he spoke fairly often of a frightening judgment that awaits those who reject him.
What do we do with this side of Jesus? What do we do with our loving Savior when speaks in such negative ways?
It might challenge us, but one option that is not available is to dismiss him. To accept only the version of Jesus that makes us feel good isn’t really accepting him at all, because he comes to us as one who is both loving and holy, a God of both mercy and judgment.