For a very long time I have struggled to understand this passage. Especially the bit about cutting your hand off of gouging your eye out. But today it occurs to me to be much clearer. If your hand, foot or eye cause you to sin, cut them off and throw them away. In other words – nobody is perfect. However, if you repent of your sins and turn from them, then you can have a chance of finding the kingdom of heaven. Or put another way: if you regret your sins and cut them out and throw them away, although you will still have been a sinner, your past sins will not be carried forward with you because you cut them off and threw them away. You may still bear the scars of sin but you won’t still carry the sins themselves.
As for the children being the greatest in the kingdom, I have less trouble understanding this now I am a father myself.
My little daughter is so full of trust. She is so clearly utterly dependant on my wife and I for everything.
Matthew 18:1-10 NLT
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
This world of sin and temptation has robbed me of all of my innocence and most of my trust. My goal today would be to cut out my lost innocence and look to my own daughter’s example as one of the greatest in God’s kingdom. I would like to learn to trust in God in the same way she effortlessly and completely trusts us to provide for her needs and to love her always.
Exodus 4:1-5:21, Matthew 18:1-20, Psalms 22:19-31, Proverbs 5:15-21