Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Angry Jesus

Many years ago I toyed with the idea of writing a book examining Angry Jesus, a book that would examine all the hard sayings in the gospels. Many people today have this image of Jesus, and think of our divine Lord and Savior as some sort of teddy bear who is only too happy to let us all into heaven, and certainly would never bring up anything so gauche as sin.

This image that we have created of Jesus is false. Jesus talks about sin and damnation many times, six times in such "warm and fuzzy" passages as the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, it is an essential part of his message: yes, the Kingdom of God is here, but also repent and sin no more!

So, in the interest of getting rid of warm and fuzzy Jesus, I propose that you reflect on the following passage (Luke 13): At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

Note that the passage does not say that the Galileans didn't die for their sins; he says that they weren't worse than anyone else in Galilee. In fact, those killed by Pilate and by the tower falling were guilty, according to Jesus, but no more guilty than everyone else. The message that is often preached in reference to this passage is that misfortune is not caused by sin--in other words, we can't assume that those who die in disasters were great sinners. But that isn't the point Jesus is making: they are sinners, but so are you, and you better repent! In other words, the fact that towers haven't fallen on you doesn't mean you aren't a great sinner. Don't feel secure, but work out your salvation in fear and trembling.

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