Matthew 25, Revelation 21-22
Jesus teaches us that violence does not win, that true power comes through sacrifice, that there is always a third way; but in the end, does he throw billions of people into fire forever?
In the end, does Jesus return with the biggest sword of all? Does violence truly have the last word?
A sermon about peace, justice, and yes, hell.
On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus meets a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Lots of people know how this story goes: Zacchaeus climbs a tree, Jesus calls him down, they go for dinner, Zacchaeus repents, etc. etc.
And that’s where our telling of the story ends, but the text goes on - because you can’t leave destructive systems behind without serious consequences.
Zacchaeus’ story isn’t over yet.
Many of Jesus’ sayings have found their way into our own culture. You will still hear people encouraging others to “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile”. Sometimes, we can hear these phrases so much that they actually become a little dull to our ears; they lose their teeth.
But to Jesus and his disciples, these were radical, loaded statements about how to combat violence. When presented with two options, Jesus always points to a third way.
Mark 2, Deuteronomy 5
There is perhaps no sin more rewarded in our North American culture than the sin of Sabbath breaking. In the midst of a busy world that values productivity above all, Jesus’ teachings on Sabbath become an act of rebellion against the empires of our world.
Sabbath makes for peace.
For the season of Lent, we are going to be looking at the peace teachings of Jesus.
It is a sad irony that “the things that make for peace” rarely result in peace right away. We could all think of times when a peaceful act has brought about an aggressive reaction - when Jesus brought a word of peace; he often received violence.
How did Jesus respond to acts of violence? How should we?