Sermon Notes

Hell & the Wrath of Christ


  • The passage we have before us today begins with the second set of miracles Matthew recounts in this series of miracles following the great Sermon on the Mount. And in recounting these stories, Matthew is taking us through some deeply theological and extremely relevant topics.
    As he recounts these stories, he also shows us the response of his contemporaries and how Jesus interacts with each of them.The message of this Messiah is a message of eternal salvation, and the miracles that He performs are the display of the restoration that He is ushering into a corrupt and broken world.
  • Now, the central concern of the text before us today is the power of Christ over evil, and for that reason, I’ve titled my sermon – Hell & the Wrath of Christ.
    • The topic of hell & demons often invokes a variety of strange reactions from people.
      Some find hell to be an over-exaggeration on the part of the biblical authors, a hyperbole of sorts, and that sermons on hell are a way to scare people into heaven.
      Some find hell simply too ghastly and unloving a reality to co-exist with a loving and merciful God.
      Some others, find hell to be the necessary judgment of God upon the wicked, and yet a lot of the people in this camp do not live a life that proves that they actually believe that.People have a hard time marrying or harmonising the thought of a wrathful God with a loving and merciful God. And frankly, in doing this harmonising, we very often end up being less or more merciful or judgmental than we should be.
    • The bottom line is that hell & the wrath of God is not an easy subject for many people. In fact, it is definitely not an easy subject to preach on. Part of the reason for that is that the Bible doesn’t give us a clear blueprint of hell. But that is beside the point because what the Bible does give us is a clear picture of what hell is and why it exists.Oftentimes, when we talk about heaven, we run out of words and say, “It’s just going to be far more beautiful than our wildest imaginations”. Well-beloved, let’s just say that the Bible gives us clear evidence that hell is going to be far more horrible than our wildest imaginations.There are a lot of confusing teachings out there on hell and the nature of the eternal judgment, that I hope that our time together in the word today will help clarify some of that.
  • Finally, I want each and every one of us in this service to pray. To pray that God would give us today a deep sense of the supernatural, to understand the reality of the seemingly unreal, to understand better a world yet unseen.



  • Matthew 8:28-3428 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
  • v28(a) – And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes,
    • And the account begins by giving us the context for when this incident happens. Just the night before, Jesus and His disciples were swamped by a deadly storm, and Jesus hushed it with His rebuke.
      The profound display of Christ’s power had left the disciples even more afraid, as they wondered at the authority of Christ, that even the winds and the sea obey Him.
    • Well, they were about to see that Christ’s authority was even more than they had witnessed.
    • The Gadarenes were a people with a strong Hellenistic influence (influenced by Roman culture). So, this would account for the presence of so many pigs – 2000 of them according to Mark 5 (an unclean animal to the Jews), and the demoniacs we see in this story were possessed from their worship and service of foreign deities.
  • v28(b) – two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way.
    • Both Mark and Luke, in their corresponding accounts of this story, focus only on one of these demon-possessed men, probably the lead one. Matthew clarifies for us that there were indeed two of them.
    • Fierce – and living in tombs
      • Mark 5:3-5 – 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
      • Luke 8:27For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.
      • Both Mark and Luke give us a picture of these men. They lived in tombs and could no longer be constrained. There was a raw power to their insanity that no one could control. Shackles and chains could not keep them. No one had the strength to subdue them. Their shrill cries echoed the nights and they cut themselves with stones.
    • What we see here is a clear and vivid picture of what it means to be demon-possessed. When one or more demons have latched onto the body of a person in such a way that they can control him/her at will.
      As such, we can say that demon possession is the final step on the ladder of demonic influences. This is beyond temptations or immoral allurements. This is total control, and see the result this brings.
      The most common lie of the enemy since the beginning of creation is that he desires for our benefit. But look at this revelation of the true intent of evil, to turn us into animals, so fierce that none can come near us, and to literally destroy us by inflicting all kinds of damage.That is the intention of true evil. The servants of darkness hate God with the utmost hatred. And so in possessing a man who is created in the image of that God, they mar and disfigure that image physically, mentally, and spiritually.And Paul says that all who are not in Christ are sons of disobedience. In John 8:44, Jesus talks to those who cannot receive His word, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
    • They came out to meet Him. Isn’t it strange that demons rush to meet Christ instead of running in the opposite direction? Well, the reason is that they know better than to run. There is no place for them to run to. They run to the only place they can beg, at the feet of the King.
    • Now things start to get interesting. In the first statement, you have the demons declare the authoritative position of Christ as the Son of God, and we have heard this preached much in our Christian circles. That even demons acknowledge the rule of Christ.But I want to bring your attention to the second statement.
      Have you come here to torment us before the time? Look beloved, at the words of our tormenters fearing the torment of Christ. The word means torture. Demons are afraid of the torture of Christ, and ‘before the time’ suggests that this torture is sure to happen at the right time.Luke 8:28When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 31 – And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
    • From these passages, two things become absolutely clear. That there is a place, an abyss to which the demons are bound to be cast at the appointed time, and in that place, they will be tortured by Christ.
      This place of torment is what we refer to as hell.
    • The New Testament uses the word γέεννα (geenna) for hell, 13 times and almost all of it, by Jesus in the Gospels. This word is coined from a Hebrew word for the “Valley of Hinnom”. It was in this valley that the Jewish people in the old testament worshipped Baal and sacrificed their children on the fire. Eventually, this site was used to burn refuse and the Jews often referred to this valley symbolically to refer to the punishment to come in the afterlife. Jesus employs this very same word. That tells us that He acknowledges the idea of a place of punishment in the afterlife.In Matthew’s Gospel account, we have already come across this word three times,
      • Matthew 5:22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
      • Matthew 5:29-30If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
    • Every form of usage of this word suggests that this is an actual place where both demons and unregenerate people are cast into.
      Revelation 20:10the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
v14 – Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
    • So, all of this gives us a certain picture of hell. It’s a place of torment like a lake of fire and sulfur. It is considered the second death, and everyone whose name is not found in the book of life is thrown in along with the devil and his demons.And this torment, this lake of fire and sulfur, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42), is the torment by Christ.Revelation 14:9-11 – gives us a picture of the devil and the sons of the devil,
 “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
    • Finally, this place is eternal. It’s not a temporary phase or the end of our existence. The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever in the presence of the Lamb.
  • v31-32 – 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.
    • So, they begged him. What else could these creatures do? Their best chance at roaming this world, wasting away in fear of the time to come than facing Jesus’ wrath today was to beg His mercy.
    • He said Go, and they rushed into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.
      I used to think that the demons were stupid to have to end up in the ocean. But the point here beloved is that the demons were able to satisfy their lust for destruction. They were in the man in order to destroy him, and when they couldn’t, they’d rather destroy whatever else they could find. Mark tells us that there were about 2000 pigs.
  • v33-34 – 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
    • Watch here, what happens when the people in this pagan region witness what has occurred.
      All the city came out to meet Jesus. In the first instance, the demons came out to meet Jesus, and now the whole city came out. And when they saw him, they too begged him as ‘legion’ did – that is the name of the demons according to Mark and Luke, that Christ would leave their region.
    • They would rather keep an entire area quarantined off and suffer the fierceness of two demoniacs than have to deal with Jesus. This, my friends, is a vivid picture of the flesh. We live in a world that is in love with sin. Everything about the natural man is hostile toward God, as we read in Romans 8:7, The nature of sin, like these demonic servants of sin, is to resist the holiness of God and to destroy and devour our lives. And therefore the natural man who is ravished by sin, becomes slaves to unrighteousness themselves and hates the God of truth.



  • The doctrine of hell & the wrath of God is clear biblical teaching. And Jesus uses it in His Gospel message to warn people from hell.
    John 3:16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
”But when many came to John the Baptist as a cheap means to escape hell, he called them out in Luke 3:7-8, He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
  • Romans 9:21-24“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump done vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
    • Even in this world, we do not punish the law-breaker by handing them over to a city ruled by law-breakers. We don’t deposit murderers and rapists to an island ruled by murderers and rapists. The order of justice has in its outworking the need for the righteous to carry out that judgment. Justice is not a sword that can be wielded by the hands of the unrighteous. Therefore, we put such criminals in prison and have law-keepers guard and watch them. The idea being to punish and also to restore.
    • Therefore, when we hear of the wrath of God, this is not a strange phenomenon. It is the very necessary character of a Holy God, to come out against criminal forces. Evil trembles at the sight of this King. Every alteration of the doctrine of hell that men are prone to do, is because they do not want to have to deal with the wrath of God. Nations will call out to the mountains, according to Revelation 6:16“Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 

      A God who is only loving is not God for He can never avenge the afflicted. A God who is only wrathful is not God for God is love.”
  • Beloved, the immeasurable love of God that we proclaim is a fountain that springs forth from a cross. Meditating on the doctrine of hell & the wrath of God does not reduce the love of God, it increases it infinitely more. For on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
    Isaiah 53:10“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief”
  • What we need to see here is that Jesus did not accidentally stumble upon the country of the Gadarenes. He went there intentionally. The demons weren’t surprising Jesus by leaping upon His path, it was Jesus who surprised the demons when He came at them directly. So much so, that they feared He was coming to cast them into hell before the appointed time. What we’re seeing here, what Jesus is showing His apostles here, is the justice and wrath of God coming out against the forces of evil, and this isn’t an even fight. And when Jesus comes with that power to cast out and rescue, the world recoils in fear and begs Him to depart.
  • And yet in leaving the region, Christ was not retreating.
    Mark 5:18-20 – “18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.”

    • Jesus permitted the demons to flee to the pigs but does not permit this man to follow Him. He had other plans for him, and this once demon-possessed man became a mouthpiece of God’s glory to a people that rejected God.
      Do you see, the love and mercy of Christ piercing the rejecting and hostility of a sinful people?
    • Do you see the wrath of God co-exist with His lovingkindness!