Jesus spoke in word pictures. He used them to describe heaven, hell, God, and our relationship with each other.
34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.
When Jesus described hell, He used the word, “Gehenna,” a Greek word that is derived from the Hebrew, “Ge Hinnom,” which is the valley of Hinnom just outside Jerusalem. It was used in Jesus’ day as the garbage dump. There was always a fire burning and there were maggots everywhere. In Jeremiah’s day, this valley was used for child sacrifice (Jeremiah 7:30-32). There was nothing “redeemable” about Gehenna in the Jewish person’s mind. A word picture.
Matthew includes seven times that the Lord referred to hell. Let’s look at them:
5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
5:30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
18:9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
What can we conclude from these verses?
- Hell is a real place.
- It is a place of judgment.
- Hell is a place that is “chosen” by our actions.
Jesus used these word pictures to describe what life is like outside of Him. He used them to reveal where people were headed. Jesus came to give life, to proclaim freedom, release for the captives, ointment for the blind and healing for the sick. He came to save us from hell by giving us Himself through the Holy Spirit.
Folks, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Abba, before I met You, it was like walking in the dark. You shined Your light on me and now I see You! I see the world around me, the people in my life, and I praise You for such a wonderful salvation. Amen.