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Jesus Creed

Now a brief summary of what we’ve seen in the two passages about wrath in the Synoptic Gospels … and we’ll get to John 3:36 when we get to the apostle John. When we get there, we may have to amend what we say today … we’ll have to wait on that one.
1. The word “wrath” is found only twice in the Synoptics (Matt 3:7; Luke 21:23).
2. The word is expressed once by John the Baptist and once by Jesus.
3. When Jesus uses the word, it is apocalyptic and it is historical wrath: it refers to the act of God in judgment on Jerusalem because of the corruptness of its leaders. Historical wrath is a national rhetoric; the stuff of a newspaper-like broadside.
4. I am willing to say that both John and Jesus lived in the light of God’s coming wrath against Jerusalem and Israel; that their messages were shaped by what they feared would happen to Israel if its leaders didn’t respond. In this sense, then, “wrath” is “evangelistic” only in an indirect sense.
5. When Jesus does “evangelize” individual persons — take a good look at Matthew 8–9 and then Matthew 10 — wrath is not the language Jesus uses. Wrath is how Jesus talks to the leaders of Israel and to Israel as a nation of what may befall the nation if it does not change its ways.
6. Jesus does not motivate those who chose [check out, eg., Matt 4:16-20; 8:18-22; Luke 5:1-11 etc] to follow him [disciples] by the threat of God’s wrath.
7. But, the threat of judgment is never far from Jesus’ evangelistic message — and one can see this at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:13-27).
We could say that Jesus predicted judgment on his opponents and those who chose not to follow him. Is this the same as “evangelistic wrath” in your judgment?

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