This morning I was reading Mark 10:42 ff with the kids. Needless to say Jesus' words provoked some questions:
43 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. [...] 46
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,
One 'explanation' from Ben was that if you cut your hand off then all the sin would 'drop' out of you. Hmmm...Then I had to try and steer the conversation away from the technicalities of how you would actually gouge your eye out.
But, I learnt or was reminded of two lessons:
i. the absoulte horror of sin. While, no doubt, Jesus is speaking hyperbolically (although Origen for one took things more literally), his words graphically capture the seriousness of sin. This is something I think we - speaking as a modern Christian - have lost. Perhaps we gloss over the seriousness of sin, perhaps we cheapen grace...perhaps worst of all the enormity of the cross and just what Jesus had to go through to bear the punishment for our sin has faded form our view. Whatever, we would do well to let these verses remind us just what is at stake.
ii. it is good to read systemtaically through the Bible with our kids - difficult verses can throw up some good conversations. And even if they don't grasp exactly what is being taught - at the very least the impression they get is that the Bible is an interesting book. A book that talks about gouging your eyes out is not boring!