If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck 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 “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
It’s one thing to see and talk about problems in the lives of people on the other side of the planet. It’s another thing to discover and discuss the problems in someone else’s life. But it’s an entirely different thing altogether to openly talk about and share your own problems, faults, failures, sins.
While there are forms of talk therapy, Jesus is talking about something very radical. Very revealing. There’s no hiding when you cut off your hand, cut off your foot, or pull out your eye.
Let’s move past the immediate pain and suffering that would be caused by doing any one of these acts against your body. But there would be a lifetime of loss.
Losing a hand – even if it wasn’t your dominant hand, would still impact the rest of your life. How would you open a jar? A bottle? A can? You’d be condemned to a life of needing help with the most basic of things.
Losing a foot – this would cripple you for the rest of your life. You’d become totally dependent on crutches to move around. You’d be condemned to a life of mostly sitting around, dependent on others.
Losing an eye – in one sense might have the least impact. With one good eye you could still live a somewhat normal life. But people would be reminded of your loss every time they looked into your face. People would turn away from you. You’d be condemned to a life of facial and relational isolation.
When you confess your sins to God, it’s mostly a private thing. You pray silently in secret. God hears and forgives silently in secret. You are forgiven and restored silently and in secret.
But when you cut off a hand, cut off a foot, pull out an eye, your sin has become a public affair. It’s blasted everywhere you go. It’s on the front of your social media page. It makes the front cover of your personal newspaper’s special edition.
Everyone would know what you did. And it’s only a matter of time till everyone knows why you did it. It would be a public announcement that you were so evil and far from God on the inside that you had to take this drastic and radical step to stop.
There was no easier, less invasive way to change your life. You would have tried anything and everything to change. And by taking this kind of radical defacing of your body, you were publicly admitting total and complete failure. Not only would your disfigurement be complete, but so would your admission of guilt and weakness.
Once removed, there is no going back. No putting it back. No replacement or prosthetic that will put you back 100% to “normal” or what used to be.
This is a small glimpse of how serious sin is to God. We tend to brush it away quickly, with the wave of a hand. But it’s deadly serious to God. Why?
Because God is our maker and the lover of our souls. Our original and ultimate soulmate. He’s provided life and everything else. And what has been our response to his loving provision and reaching out to us?
We have turned our backs on him. We’ve purposefully rebelled and run away from him, doing what we knew would hurt him the most. And in response to this, he didn’t turn his back on us. No, he provided the sacrifice, paid the price to restore us to himself.
And how have we responded to all this? More turning away from him. More disobedience. More rebellion. More ignoring him.
We all know, some more closely, a family where a child rebelled against their loving parents. Ignoring their affection and provision, turning in revolt against the ones who gave them life and everything else. We see the pain in the parents faces and hearts as they suffer great grief
This is only a shadow of the kind of pain, sorrow, and heartache that God experiences at our sin. Our rebellion. He can’t just overlook it or ignore it. Talk therapy won’t touch it. It must be delt with, taken care of.
That’s why Jesus came. He left his throne in heaven, where he enjoyed an eternal, intimate relationship within the Godhead. He came to offer himself for us, to pay our price.
All other religions are about us trying to reach for God, paying God to respond to us. Christianity is all about God coming down, reaching out and paying for us.
For me, Jesus certainly is so much more attractive.