“Wait! Again, Jesus?! Why another parable about judgement, hell, the fiery furnace, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth? “
This Sunday, and next week in our Daily Worship Devotions, we come to the last in a series of six parables Jesus tells in Matthew 13 to disrupt and re-orientate his followers expectations about what the Kingdom of God was going to be like. When Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, he’s describing what it will look like for us to follow him in this world – his world, i.e., to be a Christian. However, this sixth and concluding parable is very similar in concept, meaning, and language to one he just told – the Parable of the Weeds.
Why would Jesus do that? Why tell two parables so similar? Especially given that the focus of both is on judgement, hell, the fiery furnace, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth! These are the types of questions I believe we are meant to ask when we see something like this in the Bible. Jesus isn’t forgetful. He’s not a bad editor and he doesn’t need a speechwriter to help him with a more positive message and conclusion.
I say all that because I confess, as a pastor and preacher, I have not liked preaching about judgement, hell, the fiery furnace, and the weeping and gnashing of teeth! But it’s obvious that Jesus believed it was an important topic for us to face and grapple with. I’ve been grappling with this for a while.
Take some time to read this concluding parable and the rejection of Jesus that follows in Matthew 13:47-58. Those two things go together. Consider the following as you read, reflect, and mediate on God’s Word:
- How is this parable similar to the Parable of the Weeds – and why?
- How is this parable different from the Parable of the Weeds – and why?
- Has my familiarity with Jesus and his people led me to think less of his authority over my life?