… and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you I do not know you.’
And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. …”
Crossing (© John Gresham)
Is there a worse version of hell than the descriptions Jesus gave to his disciples during the eschatological discourse? Can the reasons for going to such a hell be more frightening? Note, if you would, the ten virgins who were locked outside of the banquet hall being told by the bride groom, “Assuredly I say to you I do not know you.” These women are left disowned and vulnerable. The wicked servant fares no better being counted among the hypocrites for abusing his fellows and carousing with drunkards. He and the virgins did not live in expectation for something greater. They mistakenly believed they had plenty of time before being in the full presence of the bridegroom and master. The unprofitable servant made no effort to increase the wealth the master gave him, not even to give the gift to those who could make some sort of profit. He too goes to the place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In these three examples, the graphic punishment is not some demon in a red suit armed with a pitchfork. To be disowned by the Lord Jesus Christ and left vulnerable in great tears and agony goes beyond any sort of vengeful torture. This is why the martyrs endured the wild beast, burning pitch, and other horrors of earthly cruelty. They chose to die brutally rather than be separated from the source of life and life eternal. And the source of life is to do well to one’s neighbor, practice self-control, increase love and spirit, and to anticipate a glory beyond what this world can give.
Indeed, to ignore the plight of the least of humanity is the apex of being separate from Jesus Christ. The Lord identifies himself with the “least of these.” The cursed are to suffer the same total separation as the ultimate rebels against God not because they committed some act of immorality. They are punished for their lack of compassion and mercy. Morality is good. But, it is no substitute for the love that gave it’s self to our unworthy humanity for our salvation. If we do not love likewise, we have missed the whole point of the crucifixion and resurrection. If we miss the point, we will miss his return. There can be no greater hell than that.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect
Let us live in his presence believing that his greater glory will come.