A Warning and a Rejection

A Warning and a Rejection

Matthew 13:47-57

 

“And so it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; in the place then there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 

            One of the myths and distortions today is that Jesus is only a God of love who will not judge anyone.  He will love and accept all people and religions and never judge or condemn anyone to hell.  However, in this final paragraph, Jesus dispels the idea that there is no judgment.  In the previous verses, we had seen the value that God places upon people, which culminated in Christ's sacrifice for our salvation. In this, we see the extent of God’s love and grace.  However, God is also holy and cannot allow sin to go unpunished.  There will come a time when he will bring judgment upon sinners, not because he is unwilling to forgive, but because these individuals have rejected the offer of salvation. By refusing to accept and surrender to the sovereign rule of Christ, they reject the offer to participate in God’s kingdom.          This distinction is important to affirm.  God is not unjust and unloving in bringing judgment. Instead, the opposite is true.  As a holy God, he cannot overlook sin.  To do so would be an affirmation and acceptance of evil, which would make God unholy, for he would likewise promote corruption. While Christ announced the offer of grace, he also repeatedly warned of the certainty and finality of judgment for those who reject him.  The parable of the dragnet reminds us that the co-existence of the righteous and the evil present today should not be construed to mean that God unequivocally accepts all people.  He will judge those who refuse to submit to his kingdom.

            Having concluded his parables with this final warning, Christ then asks the disciples the same question he asks us.  “Have you understood all these things?”  This is the critical question: not only have we mentally understood them, but have we personalized these parables by responding to the parable by genuinely giving up our life for his kingdom?  Have we embraced the kingdom of God by being fully committed to it? This is the same thing he asks us today.  It is one thing to affirm the meaning of the parables mentally and all of Christ’s teaching regarding his kingdom; it is quite another to fully surrender to the teaching of Christ and fully embrace his kingdom by surrendering to him.  Just because we “know” Jesus does not mean that we have surrendered to Jesus.  

The difference between knowledge and surrender is then illustrated by the people of Nazareth.  When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, the people fully acknowledged Jesus and recognized that he was teaching with wisdom and insight and performing miraculous signs.  However, even as they affirmed the power and authority of Jesus, they refused to surrender and respond to his message.  Their familiarity led to complacency.  In the end, they could not embrace Jesus as their personal savior.  

This becomes a challenge for us, especially for those of us who have grown up in the church.  We have a knowledge of the bible but remain unchanged by it.  We have knowledge without transformation.  As a result, we never fully realize the nature and power of Christ.  As we have studied this chapter, we have seen the gospel message and the kingdom of God described in various symbolic illustrations.  These parables provide us insight into the multi-faceted nature of Christ’s kingdom.  The question remains, “Are we genuinely and completely surrendered to his kingdom?”  How we answer that question determines our eternal destiny.

 

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