There is no give in the face of Jesus. His eyes are set like stone. Those gathered around Him hear the statements of finality regarding sin:
“If your eye causes you to sin, then pluck it out.”
“If your hand causes you to sin, then cut it off. For it’s better to go to heaven with one eye, or one hand, than it is to be in hell with both.”
Can’t argue with the logic, but those commands are harsh. It calls for an absolute seriousness of mind. Of total commitment of the will. It will be difficult, sure – but this we can do. It is possible for us to do this – to muster up the sheer will and determination to treat these areas of moral purity as seriously as Jesus.
But just when we are taking a deep breath, about to pledge our commitment, Jesus comes with one more command. Just one more, and yet the sheer weight of this – the command of all commands – is finally enough to crush our spirit to dust.
“This is the greatest command: Love the Lord your God.”
At this, our hearts fail. Our eyes drop. All our hope is dashed, for we know that this, more than any other, is a command that cannot be obeyed. It could never be obeyed. Our deep breath of commitment turns into a gasp of despair and we begin to turn. As we do, in a moment of sheer honesty, we acknowledge the truth now so weighing our hearts:
“I can’t do it.”
To this, Jesus smiles. And He says, in the way that only He can, “I know.”
For remarkably, the words of Jesus have the ability to crush and uplift. To destroy and build up.
We come to this command – the summation of all the other commands – and here we find ourselves at the end of rope. We have no will power left – not for this command. There is no eye to pluck; there is no hand to cut off. There is only us, left facing ourselves in the mirror of the words of Christ.
And we are crushed under the weight of Jesus’ words, for they have exposed at our deepest level. We do not love God. And we never will. We might obey Him for a time, but we will do so grudgingly at best. But love? Real love? Genuine love? Spontaneous love? This is completely beyond us.
What we need in that moment is what only Jesus can provide. We need not a reformation of our hearts, but an entirely new one. One that beats with a new rhythm. One that flutters at new thoughts.
Crushed under the weight of the commands of Jesus the only thing left is for us to be born again.