rebelling against low expectations

Medea: When A Greek Tragedy Brings Me Closer to God


Euripedes, a play-writer in ancient Greece, was no stranger to the human heart. He knew how it works, and he knew humanity well. And this shows in one of his most famous plays, Medea.

Medea killed her brother, left her home, and borne two sons in exile for the sake of her husband, Jason. But when he abandons his family for another wife, Medea is crushed with anger, jealousy, and grief. Cornered, she begs for one day’s grace.

But so much can happen in one day.

She takes away everything Jason holds dear, in order to inflict as much pain as he caused her. She is determined to ruin his happiness forever … even if it means killing their two sons, and destroying herself from the inside out.

I’ll share with you what my Economics teacher brilliantly presented to my class, after we watched the classic story via National Theatre Live. (As well as my own thoughts.)

Socrates once said that man is basically good — he just needs education. And how many people today think this? Even some Christians will nod their heads in agreement. It’s easy to believe. And not only that, it’s easy to want to believe.

Throughout the course of human history, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden, man has always wanted to raise himself up above God.

Medea had education. She was married to a king, who taught her, and changed her through education. From the original play, she says, “I know indeed what evil I intend to do, but stronger than all my afterthoughts is my fury — fury that brings upon mortals the greatest evil.”

She knew what she was doing was wrong, but she did it anyways. She wasn’t “mentally ill,” or just insane. She wept and told herself of how wrong it was to kill her own kids, but then she began justifying it, and rationalizing it.

People say there’s nothing that compares to a mother’s love — that it surpasses every other kind of love. It’s always steadfast. Never ceases. Never fades.

But Euripedes shows in this story the depth of mankind’s depravity, even a mother can have the ability to kill her own children. She became so wrapped up in extracting revenge, she lost the value of life, and the purpose of life.

God designed us to live in community, with family, and to give glory to God — and not live alone. When man is separated from his life’s purpose, then he will not only tend toward evil, but also begin to die.

Medea was in a strange place, and she was torn from her family and community, and lived by herself, then ultimately brought destruction upon herself.

And if a loving, nurturing mother can stoop to matricide, what does that mean for the rest of us?

We are all depraved by nature. None of us are good. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But, thank goodness, our story does not stop there.

We have God’s grace. We have justification and redemption through Jesus Christ. We are so sinful and so fallen, and yet God sent His Son to save us, because He loves us.

Doesn’t that just strike you as amazing? How a great, powerful God could love us the way He does? It does me.

We still don’t know what Euripedes’ intentions were with this play, considering the Greek audience wasn’t Christian and only males were allowed to go and watch plays. But — as my teacher pointed out — they knew that this kind of murder was wrong. Euripedes tried to show everyone what we shouldn’t do.

The Greeks understood this. They showed the depravity of man, but they just didn’t have a solution. They understood that man is purposed for good, but when divorced from their purpose they will inevitably tend towards evil.

So, whether they realized it or not, they were testifying to the truth of the scriptures and the Judeo/Christian worldview of humanity — that man is dead in trespasses and sins.

After watching Medea, I am reminded that I am a sinner desperately in need of a Savior, rescuing His children from their own destruction.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of Zenobia Frost and Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.


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About the author

Rachel Hatcher

is an ordinary 16-year-old with an extraordinary God, who aspires each day to pursue God and to glorify Him. She enjoys reading, hiking, and drinking coffee on rainy days. She strives to be an inspiration to those around her by sharing her love for Jesus and being an encouragement in times of need.


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  • “I know indeed what evil I intend to do, but stronger than all my afterthoughts is my fury- fury that brings upon mortals the greatest evil.” I don’t know if I have ever thought exactly this, but I have certainly thought something like it as I did something I knew was wrong. The sad part is that I too did it anyway. Our nature as humans is just awful and I read this thinking “Man, I would never, ever kill my own children! I can’t possibly be as bad as her.” But thinking on it, I see that, while the action seems extreme, I have felt the same fury and thought the same thoughts and acted on them just like she did! I’m a sinner, just like her. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!

  • This made me think of the first generation of Israelites that came out of Egypt – they disobeyed God so many times that you start to look down on them, then you see something in your own life and you’re like, “gee I’m JUST LIKE them.”

  • Rachel, I feel like you hacked into my brain, took the thoughts I couldn’t put well into words, and put them into words. Good job! 🙂

  • Wow. It really is incredible how God loved us enough to die after everything we’ve done to Him and each other. I am guilty of being rude and mean, even to my family and friends! I’m always and always will be humbled by God’s grace.

  • The wonderful truth of God’s love for broken sinners puts the AWE in awesome. Thanks for this great reminder, Rachel!

  • This is a great story to remember who we are and who God is! Being faced with your own helplessness and sinful spirit is not a fun place to be. You feel vulnerable and wounded to open yourself up. But Jesus showed us that he isn’t in it for the “right” things we do or to make us become anything other than what we are. Sinful humans. All he wants is to accept his sacrifice of grace and repent into his power filled life. HE makes us that “something more” because he is that “something more” that we all want so desperately! In Him is life!
    Great post Rachel! Thank you

  • Not all Christians would agree that human nature itself is innately evil. I don’t. I believe that we were given the capacity to go either way when we were created. The human spirit is no man’s land. Humans are weak and sinful–quite capable of becoming monsters if we let it happen, but we are also born with a very powerful will to do right.
    When God created Adam and Eve he created them in his own image, and it was very good. That image never really left us, even with the fall. Why else would so many people (everyone?) have a strong drive to seek God and his goodness and truth, even before they know him? I think this is human nature. We are not born hopelessly bent towards evil any more than we are born with a predisposition to be perfect. We have the choice, and God has given it to us so that he can have the joy of seeing free creatures choose him of their own accord. He didn’t create entirely depraved beings with no nobility of their own, completely blind and helpless. Yes, we are weak and desperately need God to help us. But I think the very fact that we recognize our need and have, perhaps, an inborn desire for God’s love tells something about the true essence of human nature.
    We are troubled spirits, lingering all our lives between good and evil. But God has given us a choice, and we can set our teeth and be faithful, yes, with the occasional failure, to goodness and truth. And I honestly believe a much more vast number of people really do, in the end. Many more than we realize.
    That was a long comment. Whoa.

  • When I was doing my first year of high school with My Father’s World, I studied Greek mythology through a Biblical lens. I always enjoy reading things like that, then mediating on parallels you can draw from life and the Bible.

    Whether it is The Hobbit, or Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology, or some of Charles Dicken’s works that made it on screen {Little Doritt, David Copperfield, Bleak House}–it is neat to compare and contrast. That is one of my favorite things to do!
    Thank you for this post. I loved reading your thoughts about it. 🙂

    • Yes! It adds so much more depth to what you study, and developing your worldview and seeing God’s hand through it all. And I love seeing faint echoes of the gospel (though very twisted) in these stories.

  • Hmm, I see your point (I think), but I have to disagree. I think we ARE born hopelessly bent towards evil, and mankind does not naturally have a strong desire to seek God and His goodness and Truth. Before we become Christians, I think deep inside we *do* know that there is a Creator, whether we realize it or not. But Romans 1:21 says,”The heart is deceitful above all things — who can know it?” and Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is no one who is righteous, no, not one.There is no one who understands, no one who seeks after God. All have turned aside … there is no one who does good, not even one.”

    • Well, here’s another way of looking at it. If you can’t see any good in human beings, we could look at God and ask just why a perfect being, who, by definition, hates evil, would love evil beings (human s) even before they loved him. What exactly does God love about human souls if they are essentially evil? That doesn’t make any sense.
      What would you say?

      • That’s one of the greatest mysteries of the Bible. Why God would Love us and show us mercy after us not loving Him I don’t know. I can only repeat Ephesians 2:8.

        “For it is through grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”

        • And not only does a perfectly good God love intrinsically evil beings, but we, as Christians, are also supposed to love evil beings–but we must hate evil. In which case, we’re not really loving the person’s essence, or actual self–just some phantom of a future when they might be redeemed. I know that Christianity is full of mystery, but it isn’t full of contradiction.
          I still would argue that humans have potential for both at their point of creation. God wouldn’t create evil beings and take delight in them.
          Is this sort of what they call a “free will” discussion? Would you say were sort of talking about predestination?

          • It’s as if God were an architect who designed a disastrously poorly-planned building, and built it. He finishes his work and says “I love that. It’s beautiful,” and then levels it and builds a totally different structure in it’s place. He didn’t like the first building at all!
            If people are essentially evil, like murder, what they are at the core is evil. You can’t even redeem them and have them be the same thing as the essentially evil being they were at first. Their essence has been removed.
            If you remove the evil essence of a human there would be nothing left. If there is nothing left, you have to entirely replace it. If you entirely replace it, it’s not the same creature–and therefore, no longer human. To no longer be evil, would be to no longer be human.
            And if all that is true–humans, if essentially evil, are not redeemable!

          • I think that Humanity cannot be good at the begining because of our sin nature. When Adam Sinned, He, as the head of the Human Race, Brought a sin nature that was inherited by all people. You can see this in Roman 3:23 and Jeremiah 17:9. And in God Loving Intristically Evil people, That is the message of the Gospel. The whole point of us being here is that God would be glorified. How would God’s Grave and Mercy be shown without this? Before We were here, There was no sin, except for Satan. And as He is Sentenced to eternal punishment, there was no other opportunity for God to show his Mercy and Grace.

            And for Us showing Love to others? God wants us to become more and more like Him. God Showed us mercy. He never said he loved the sin. But he did love the sinner. kind of like when Jesus would visit and have meals with Sinners. He Showed Love to them. And they were known as the worst sinners. God loved us. He wants us to love the sinner, not the sin. Hopefully that made sense!!

By Rachel Hatcher
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →