How Extreme was Jesus?

So, there’s a verse that I’m quite certain no Christian in the world today follows. As far as I know, this commandment of Jesus’ wasn’t even followed in the early Church.

It goes something like this:

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30; also see Mark 9:43)

If you have followed this verse and done what it says when you have sinned and you used your right hand to do it, then raise your right hand.

Wait…I guess you can’t do that…sorry…

As far as I am aware, there has never been a single person in history, not even Jesus’ own apostles, who took this verse seriously. And why is that? It was commanded by Jesus, so why not follow it?

Because Jesus is using figurative language, using a horrendous scenario to make a point.

How do I know that? Well, I don’t, but do you see this command in any of Paul’s, Peter’s or John’s teachings? Because I don’t.

The reason? Jesus’ command wasn’t really a command at all. He’s making a point.

Note that Jesus says only regarding the right hand. Why? Odds are good, during that time, people in the culture (and even in our culture today) were predominately right handed.

Some translations, such as the New Living Translation, render the verse this way:

“And if your hand–even your stronger hand–causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

Let’s look at the context. Where does this fall into Jesus’ teachings? Under His teaching on adultery.

So, in context, it’s saying that if your right hand, or your stronger hand, as the NLT says, causes you commit adultery, then it should be cut-off.

But, again, Jesus is using figurative language here, making a point that our bodies are nothing compared to our souls. But why such a serious punishment?

Sin is a huge deal to God. Jesus said that it is so serious, that we should be willing to mutilate our own bodies as a result.

Barnes’

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