Although Jesus' message was realized in his healings and could be directly experienced by the people, following a brief span of public enthusiasm it was increasingly rejected. As the anticipated fundamental conversion did not happen, a new situation developed to which Jesus responded with his message of judgment. Yet despite some drastic words of warning, which, taken by themselves, suggest the image of a wrathful God, Jesus did not render his own message of a God of grace ambiguous. In his words about judgment, he rather revealed the inner consequences of rejection, the mechanisms in which people inevitably get caught up if they do not surrender unreservedly to that gracious forgiveness, so that, by judging others, they bring judgment upon themselves. To these people who thought they did not need God's new offer, believing themselves to be essentially righteous, or who regarded the offer of a forgiving grace made to "public sinners" as scandalous, Jesus in his judgment speeches held up the mirror of their own hearts, at the same time confronting them with the image of a wrathful God. He also exposed their inner spirit of lies and violence, which ultimately leads to a total hardening of hearts - and into hell. Jesus thus intended to stir up his audience, yet his judgment discourse only intensified the conflict so that verbal rejection gave way to scuffles and violence.
Was this article helpful?