In a letter to the editor, Richard Wall Jr. argues that Jesus Christ was all for the death penalty ("Jesus spoke in favor of death penalty," May 12).
I was troubled by the reading, and I worry that this is what our churches are teaching, this kind of confused, dark, and absurdly literal exegesis. The verse Mr. Wall cites is from a discourse on the church, specifically a dialog between Jesus and his disciples on who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
If you read the surrounding verses, it's clear that Jesus is speaking metaphorically, the children here representing the children of God or the church, and emphasizing how important it is that the church minister to the least among us.
What Mr. Wall construes as support for the death penalty is actually a poetic allusion to the spiritual consequences of mistreating the weak and vulnerable, those who need the church the most. As such, Mr. Wall's reading is as opposite the spirit of the passage as one could possibly come up with.
Were one to read on, they'd find that in verses just after this one Jesus exhorts his disciples that they should forgive trespassing brothers not just seven times but 70 times seven and that they should go to great lengths to help and support those who go astray. Again, the spirit of these verses couldn't be more opposite Mr. Wall's interpretation.
Jesus is very clearly not cheerleading for state-sanctioned murder. Best I can tell, Mr. Wall has confused Christ with Caesar.
Robert Underwood, Lincoln