Sunday, April 20, 2008

Does Jesus mean what He says?


A few days ago we were speaking with some friends about Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper some of the same old arguments against that doctrine arose. One of these arguments is to refer to the so called hyperbole Jesus used in other parts of scripture. Here is one example:

Matthew 18: 7 Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. ESV

Many will say Jesus is using exaggeration in this section. I believe that is a mistake. He is warning against the penalty of sin as the eternal separation from God. It is more desirable to mutilate oneself if that were to stop sin and be maimed in the relatively few years one will live on earth rather than to languish for all eternity in hell. Eternal damnation is that horrible that life without eye, hand or foot is less torture.

No to look at other sermons of Jesus we see that teaching is not an exaggeration at all. What is not possible is to stop sinning. If one were to have all hands, feet, eyes, tongue and hearing removed he or she would still fall short of the glory of God.

Matthew 15: 16 And he said, Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. ESV

So we see here one would have to tear out his or her fallen humanity to stop from sinning. Our flesh is always sinning even in the best of circumstances. This is why we need Jesus’ righteousness in which to be clothed rather than our own. It is completely impossible to control thoughts and feelings each and every moment of life. These violate the perfect commands of God just as much in His sight as acting on them in the sight of others. This further shows the folly of those who brag on self improvement rather than pointing to what Jesus has provided.

But the worse part of it is that sin is not what separates us from God. What separates us from God is the curse of the law. “In the day you eat thereof you will surely die.” This was spoken to our parents in the Garden of Eden about the forbidden tree. They kept on physical living after disobedience however; they were at that moment separated from God. This separation is passed onto each and every person born. To show the seriousness of this separation we need only consider the cross. God in the person of our Lord took the penalty upon Himself to therefore remove it from us. He suffered this so that we do not have to look for ways to stop sinning. We do as loving children wish to but cannot due to our old nature.

No, Jesus did not exaggerate when He taught us about the seriousness of sin and its penalty. He also did not exaggerate on what we receive in the Holy Supper. We receive, as He promised, His True Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sin and strength for faith and life.

In the Name of the Father, † the Son and the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

steve said...

David,

Great law/gospel sermon.

I'm telling you, I could listen(read) this stuff all day long. I need to be killed off all day long and raised thereafter accordingly.

Thanks for using the law to kill me and the gospel to raise me again.

- steve