Woahs and woes. How about a Wahoo?

The weight of the woes worries the despondent who have lost perspective amid their own wailing. We have all been there. Not much good the woes do if we read them on their own. The call of these seven woes may well send the worn out into a sadness so deep that ropes cannot reach them. 

We need respite, relief from this war of woes and the warnings from woahs. 

“OK,” says Jesus. (a glib paraphrase)

Woes, Woahs, and Wahoos

I Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:27-32

Matthew cites Jesus’ seven “Woes” to those who live the warped life of a scribe or Pharisee. They read like a litany of death, because that’s what they portend. Dear God, offer us more than these vile portrayals and consequences!

The weight of the woes worries the despondent who have lost perspective amid their own wailing. We have all been there. Not much good the woes do if we read them on their own. The call of these seven woes may well send the worn out into a sadness so deep that ropes cannot reach them. 

Too blunt, the woes cry out to our hardened hearts the severity of what will happen by challenging Jesus. We wrestle with him. We do. We don’t see the path.

We need respite, relief from this war of woes. 

“OK,” says Jesus. (paraphrasing)

Step into the “Woahs.” Jesus gives us reins, a mobility in the face of what may be decrepit in us. “Pull up,” he urges us in a corporate report on the progress of seven churches, just a handful of decades away from his ascension. He hands over a light for us to see.

The seven woahs come direct from Jesus’ seven letters to the seven churches in the second and third chapters of Revelation. These woah statements, or hold-on-there-horsey calls, line up a much needed juxtaposition to the woes. They provide urges and promptings of endurance and patience and sacrifice and love. These urgings and prompts come with graces and rewards.

The woahs proclaim the ministry desires that Jesus appeals to in our yearning hearts. He wants us gathered together. We bow to him, because he knows us. We ask him to show us the path, and he points it out.

And then there is more that Jesus offers us in the face of woes with the reins of woahs in our grip. Jesus does not just stop with a gracious nod to our hoped for faithfulness in the woahs. "Watch out over there." That's not his style. He offers us brotherhood, kingdom life, and even royalty. These are the wonders of the “Wahoos.” 

We should add to our reading the eight Beatitudes. These beautiful wahoos rally us, join us together, saddle us up, feed us, and slough off the burdens of our journey in this world.

The wahoos call to lifted hearts, suddenly and surely aware of Jesus’ love, repentant of our abandoned walk without him. The wahoos lack glamour during the journey we take in our mission work. It is the destination, though, the race and struggle that wins us to him. Nonetheless, such expectancy in the destination, draws the kingdom life to us. It is not unavailable, and untouchable. We run to him, ride fast as we can, and holler to each other, “Wahoo!” We can see and even touch the prize.

Judgment awaits in the woes. Exhortation moves in the woahs. Promises given in gifts of love and wonder live in the Wahoos. Rather than allow us to duck in fear due to our likely woeful life, cringing at God’s assured rage, Jesus offers us his hand and his blessings. We get forgiveness beyond what we expect by our “Woah there fella,” and, “Hang on there now gal.” We get everything we have yet to imagine in the many wahoo reflections of heaven right here. Right now.

Woe one (Mt 23:13) condemns those of us who plow through others to claim a throne with God. “You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.” 

But take heart. Repent. Woah one (Rev 2:1) honors those who toil and do not abandon God. These will eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. And, Wahoo one (Mt 5:3) blesses the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Woe two (Mt 23:15) condemns those of us who lead our children, our friends, and our charges into hell. We train them in the ways of God, but lead them elsewhere.

But take heart. Repent. Woah two (Rev 2:8) honors those who suffer tribulation, poverty and slander but remain faithful to God. These will wear the crown of life. And, Wahoo two (Mt 5:4) blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Woe three (Mt 23:16) condemns those who swear by gold, and measure faithful folks only by their tithes and gifts. “You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?”

But take heart. Repent. Woah three (Rev 2:12) honors those who hold fast to Jesus, especially the martyrs. Jesus will attend to their persecutors, and give the martyrs great gifts. And, Wahoo three (Mt 5:5) blesses those who are meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Woe four (Mt 23:23) condemns those who offer only tithes and have ignored mercy and fidelity. “You have neglected the weightier things of the law.”

But take heart. Repent. Woah four (Rev 2:18) honors those who work for the Church with love and service. Jesus will not allow them to be burdened due to their submission, and will give them authority over the nations. And, Wahoo four (Mt 5:6) blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Woe five (Mt 23:25) condemns those who appear pure outwardly, but harbor hypocrisy of every kind. “You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.”

But take heart. Repent. Woah five (Rev 3:1) honors those who walk with the Holy Spirit. Jesus will not forget their faithfulness, and will confess their names before the Father. And, Wahoo five (Mt 5:7) blesses those who are merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

Woe six (Mt 23:27) condemns those who appear righteous, but are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. 

But take heart. Repent. Woah six (Rev 3:7) honors those who kept the scriptures close to their heart, proclaiming Jesus’ power. Jesus will make them pillars in the temple of the Father. And, Wahoo six (Mt 5:8) blesses those who are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Woe seven (Mt 23:29) condemns those who claim they would never have abused God’s prophets as their ancestors have, yet they attack every prophet sent in their day. 

But take heart. Repent. Woah seven (Rev 3:7) honors those who are zealous and repent, who refuse to be lukewarm. Jesus will bring them to sit with him on his throne. And, Wahoo seven (Mt 5:9) blesses those who are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.

The woes and woahs end there, but Jesus offers one more austere yet deliberate Wahoo in Matthew 5:10.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Thank you for the warnings and consequences in the woahs, dear Jesus. We acknowledge the woeful paths that we have taken, and are awakened. We cry out for your mercy and grace.

These are foreign urgings. We will fall, fail, and forget. But we endeavor to be with God. It is a yearned, unearned, pleasing idea that blossoms out of the poop that we leave in our wake. Jesus will not forsake us. He will send us fellow travelers who know him. Grab onto them, and holler.

Ours is the kingdom of heaven.
We will be comforted.
We will inherit the earth.
We will be filled.
We shall be shown mercy.
We will be called sons and daughters of God.
We will see God.

“Wahoo!” we shout to the Lord. 

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