“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.
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.’” Mark 9:42-43, 45, 47-48** If you look at your Bible, you will likely see that verses 44 and 46 are not there. Today, most scholars point out that these verses are not present in the earliest manuscripts we possess. If you want to know what they said, look at verse 48: ‘where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
Jesus teaches the disciples using hyperbolic allegory. He is not advocating for suicide by drowning or self-mutilation. The focus is on your unrepentant sin that leads others to sin will drag you down.
As a pastor and fellow sinner, I feel the ever-present reminder of this weight. People look to pastors to teach them that which pleases God and live in a manner worthy of the call. That is why it is so egregious when a member of the clergy gets caught in a scandal. But remember, we are human too, and in need of the cross just like you.
Indeed, Christian, you should feel this weight too. Whether you like it or not, others are watching if you are a professed follower of Jesus Christ! It might be your children, coworkers, friends, or casual acquaintances. So pay attention!
Now back to the scripture for today. Jesus doubles down with three similar sayings on entering the place of true life (The Kingdom of God). It is better to enter maimed and mutilated than remain whole in your sin because holding on to your transgression against God will cause you to be cast into the unquenchable fire and the place where worms don’t die. (see Isaiah 66:24 for this is a description of a place you do not want to be!) We have a word for it…
“H” “E” Double toothpicks!
So it is better to cut off or gouge out that which “scandalizes” you out and place it at the feet of Jesus. For being with “42” is a better place to be!
Oh Precious Savior,
Help us be painfully aware of how we lose focus on you and deviate from the path. Help us recognize and throw away these wrong directions that lead us to bad places every day, for you’re our HOME!
I pray in the Name that is above all names. Amen!