3rd Sunday After Pentecost: Why Jesus Is Sending Us Into Hell?

… what if Jesus is sending his disciples – us! — into the midst of hell so that we can help others out of it?


This week’s verses are dangerous. They have been weaponized and wielded especially against black and brown children of God. But as Adam and Lindsey read Matthew 10:24-39, they seek to de-weaponize but not disempower these bold words of Jesus. In fact, the weaponization of these words undermines the radical love Jesus speaks and models, and only when we disconnect them from violence can we see their true strength.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Strong words, and probably not even the hardest in this passage. But let’s start here…

Jesus is not talking about a literal sword. But he is disrupting the “peace.”

Any peace built on ignoring the suffering of “the least” of these, any peace built at the expense of the marginalized and vulnerable, is no peace at all. The active love of God will unravel that peace.

Jesus also says, “a slave is not above the master.” To use this as endorsement of slavery is to misunderstand or manipulate his words. The obedience to which the disciples are called is the way of loving service which Jesus first showed them. In context, Jesus is warning his disciples that just as he was abused and killed, his disciples, in following him, are also putting their lives on the line.

But he says “Don’t fear those who can kill the body. Instead, fear those who can destroy body and soul in hell.”

Who can destroy our souls? We can destroy our own souls by giving into violence and apathy. We can destroy souls by building a world of enmity where some are doomed to hopelessness so others can “succeed.” What is hell if not that?

But what if Jesus is sending his disciples – us! — into the midst of hell so that we can help others out of it? What if Jesus is sending us into the suffering and the struggle so that, through compassion and solidarity, we can transform rather than succumb to it?

So many difficult elements in this minefield of potential misunderstandings. But if we navigate Jesus’s words with great care and prayer, we can understand the call to radical, world-changing love within them.

The Olive

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