Hyperbollically Speaking…

If your right hand is the cause of your sinful action, hack it off:  and if your right eye is the cause of your sinful action, pop it out!  It’s far better for you to live your life in this world a bit mangled than it is to enter life in the world to come mangled forever in the torments of hell.  —  Jesus of Nazareth

What’s the point of Jesus’ exaggerated speech?  Does he really want Christians to hack off their bits and pieces in order to avoid sin, or does he know (and he does) that our bodies are merely instruments of the sin that resides within our hearts.  In face of radical sin, radical action is needed.  Radical sin is only overcome by radical righteousness.  And since we lack within ourselves the ability to be either righteous or radically so, Jesus’ words actually have the purpose of driving us to the point of despair.

Nonetheless, once we are radically in despair of our ability to avoid sin, we are forced to turn in trust to Him who is able to radically transform our radical sinfulness into radical righteousness.

Hence, utterly dependent on him, we pluck out our hearts, handing them over to Christ who repairs them and plants within us a new heart and a new spirit (as Jeremiah has it).

Jesus’ hyperbole, his exaggerated speech, his demand for radical trust, is at the end of the day intended to stir us from our spiritual slumber so that we cast ourselves fully and unconditionally on his grace.  When we have done that, we have, in fact, plucked out our eyes and chopped off our hands- and received new ones in their place.  We are born again.  And that’s no hyperbole at all.