Bible Reading Blog
“Taking It To The Extreme”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Mark 9
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off (Mark 9.43-47) – Yikes! Jesus seems to be taking things to the extreme. He was notorious for making bold statements that were confusing or made people uncomfortable (Mark 9.32) … but this just seems to take it too far.
Jesus concludes this section by saying “…everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9.49). Throughout his ministry, Jesus used these two figures to represent preservation (salt) and purification (fire). And so, Jesus is saying that his followers will be preserved by the removal of things that are sinful.
Everyone who tries to follow Jesus will encounter this process as they become more like him. It is the process of discipline and it hurts (Hebrews 12.4-11). We will struggle against sinful desires and come to the realization that if we will overcome them, something has to go. We often glaze over this teaching or attempt to put it into our social context to make sense of them… but what if Jesus was serious? What if he is actually calling you to cut off part of your body if it kept you from sinning?
I'm not saying he is, but we must recognize that this is once again a statement of priority from Jesus. Maybe you don’t need to cut off your hand, but we all have things that hinder our total devotion to God. And so, we must ask ourselves: Are there are things in my life that I need to cut out? Sometimes we think sin only manifests in overtly bad thing... but Satan often uses every day things to separate us from God.
Would you be willing to cut off your cable or your cell phone to preserve your purity? Would you be willing to cut off a relationship that demands too much of your time?
Is there anything you wouldn’t be willing to give up in your life? More importantly, is there anything in this life worth the distraction or the time investment if it keeps us from knowing God and growing closer to him?
The things we value most in this life are the things that have the most potential to keep us separated from God. Jesus plainly exposes the consequences of divided devotion to provoke us to action (Mark 9.43, 47-48). If we excuse or allow things in our life that make holy living more difficult, we are willingly leaving the door open for temptation.
Jesus' point is that there is no action too extreme when it comes to sin. We must identify and remove the things that hinder us from total devotion to God. It is a purifying process that is necessary to preserve and protect our soul (1 Peter 1.6-7, 22). If we would follow Jesus, we must be people motivated by conviction to protect our relationship with God at all costs.
“…It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” (Mark 9.44b)