Summary: I do not write out complete manuscript. This is a sermon brief/outline that I hope will help in your study and preparation. The main point: Take radical action against sin.
We are in a series of messages that we are calling “Say What?!... Some Head-Scratching Statements of Jesus.” One reason Jesus’ teachings has caused people both then and now to scratch their heads in amazement, wonder, or bewilderment is because His teachings revealed KINGDOM TRUTHS. In Matthew 4:23, we read, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” The teachings and principles of God’s Kingdom are both counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
The Kingdom of God was so central to Jesus ministry, that in the model prayer he taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
LAST WEEK, we considered Jesus’ statement, “Love your enemies.” We saw how this teaching was totally opposite of the WORLD’S understanding. The world tells us to divide and conquer. It’s strategy is to pit people against each other. JESUS, however, calls his followers to do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you.
TODAY, we are going to take a look at one of the most outlandish statements Jesus made:
Mark 9:47, “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell”
I’m sure you realize Jesus did not mean this literally. If this were the case, every man I know would be blind… including me! Interestingly, there have been those who took these kinds of statements literally. One such person was a man named Origen, who was one of the Early Church Fathers. Having struggled to overcome lust, he took the drastic measure of castrating himself, only to find out that this literal approach to cutting off and tearing out body parts that caused problems didn’t really solved the root problem!
Jesus was using HYPERBOLE to get an important point across. Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement for the sake of emphasis. It is also a statement that is not intended to be taken literally. I’m sure you’ve heard examples of hyperbole: “He’s as old as dirt”… “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”… “This suitcase weighs a ton”… “He’s as dumb as a rock”…
In JESUS’ DAY: HYPERBOLE was a form of HUMOR. This means that Jesus was quite the comedian, and for good reason. He understood that laughter is a powerful tool for bringing down people’s defenses and opening up their emotions so they will receive truth. Hard truth is often more easily received if it is delivered with some humor. That’s why Mary Poppins sang, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!” Truth can be hard medicine and it does the hearer little good if they spit it right out.
We have two dogs, Duke and Belle. Every month I have to give them a Heartworm/Parasite/Flea preventative called Trifexis. It must taste awful, because they will not take it by itself. I’ve tried mixing it in their food, but they’ll eat around it. I’ve tried sandwiching it between two pieces of cheese, but they’ll eat the cheese and spit out the pill. One thing I’ve found that works is PEANUT BUTTER! If I make the pill into a peanut butter ball, they’ll wolf it right down… because a spoonful of sugar (or peanut butter) helps the medicine go down!
In order to get the full impact of Jesus statement, “if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out,” let’s look at it in the teaching context where Jesus used it: MARK 9:42-50. As we work our way through this passage, I want to ask TWO QUESTIONS:
What was Jesus’ point?
Why is this so important?
The first few verses help us answer the first question:
Mark 9:42-48, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Jesus’ POINT: Take RADICAL ACTION to AVOID SIN.