When I was in Jr. High I wanted to fit in with all my friends who were on the football team, but I was basically a twig. As much as I tried to lift weights and get as mean and try as hard as I could, it just wasn’t going to happen. I was on the outside looking in. I found my place playing baseball and later on the swim team in High School. Everybody wants to find a place where they belong.
There was a place just outside the ancient city of Jerusalem called Gehenna. In Old Testament times (cf. 2Kings 16:3; 21:6; Jeremiah 7:31) some of the wicked kings of Judah had sacrificed their children with fire in this place. Because of this abomination, it became known as a cursed place. By the time Jesus walked the Earth, it was basically the garbage dump.
Listen to this verse:
If your eye causes you to fall away, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
“Hell” here is the Greek word gehenna (γέεννα). It is a reference to what it will be like to spend eternity apart from God. Hell is real, just as the Hinnom Valley southwest of Jerusalem was real, the only thing is, Hell will be much much worse. Those who reject Jesus will be the ultimate outcasts.
But it doesn’t need to be that way…
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Jesus offers for you to not be an outcast, but to be the ultimate insider. He will live in you and you in Him. He is inviting you to come to Him and be saved. We need not fear the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) where even Death and Hades are thrown, because we can trust in Him.
Don’t choose to be an outcast, choose a place where you belong. Choose to follow Jesus.