Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mark 9:43-49

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. 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. 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, 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' For everyone will be salted with fire.

Some famous words from Jesus, from the sermon on the mount, where He expanded upon and explained the Law. These are harsh words as Jesus explains that it's not the outside that matters most. Jesus is not primarily concerned with what people looked like on the outside. If He was, then the pharisees would have been His best friends. Instead, they killed Him. So it's pretty clear that Jesus is interested in something other than the outward appearnaces.

And i guess at first from this passage it's easy to see what He's concerned with. He wants us to cut ourselves up to stop us sinning right? He's concerned with our hands and our eyes and our feet, not anything else. But does Jesus literally want us to cut bits of ourselves off? Well no, i don't think so. I think we need to look at where sin comes from, what the the actual cause of it is, the start of the problem rather than the agent of it. If we cut our eyes out, we'd still lust, we'd still want to steal things if our hands were cut off. So that can't be what Jesus is getting at. He can't just be telling us to cut bits of ourselves off. Because it's not the parts of our body that are the problem.

It's our hearts.

Our hearts are idol factories. Our minds are dark and futile and we need to stop listening to them, and to turn our hearts away from our minds. I think that what Jesus is getting at here. We need a new heart and that will mean that our hands, our feet and our eyes will stop causing us problems.

But how do we get new hearts? How can we cut out our hearts? We come to Jesus. Come to Jesus and get a new heart. Come to Jesus and start again. Thats what He's calling us to here. This is a harsh message, but it's one full of grace, it's one that says 'ed, you can't do this, so come to me, and i will'. We can not sort ourselves out. I think Jesus is using these words to get us to admit to the real problem that we have. And i don't know about you, but the problem with me, is my heart. Not my hands or my feet, but my heart. And what grace there is that Jesus knows this, and watns to deal with this problem and can deal with this problem and will deal with this problem.

The great exchange that took place on the cross gave me a new heart. He got all my sin, all the things that i do that means my hands need cutting off and casting away, and i got His perfect heart. Which is not to say that i now have that heart, but that it is counted to me. I still do things that would need to the cutting off of my hand because they would condenm me to hell. But Jesus has paid the price for them. My sin was counted, imputed to Him, and His righteousness was counted and imputed to me. And now thats what the Father sees.

So these are harsh words from Jesus, because He is holy and sin is serious. But they are graceful words. He pulls our attention to the problem, the problem that will be solved for those that believe on the cross.

Look away from yourself. Seek God and what He alone can do for you. Moral improvement of the old you is not whats needed. New life is what the whole world needs. It is outside of our control. The dead new not give themselves new life. We must be born again, 'not of the will of the man, nor of the flesh, but of God.' (John 1:13)
'What Jesus demands from the world', John Piper, P39

No comments: