Many Bible readers will be familiar with Jesus’ shocking words about cutting off body parts and plucking out one’s own eye to ensure they remain faithful to God, but many might not realize the words refer primarily to the drastic measures people should take to ensure the welfare of children. The words are obvious hyperbole, not to be taken literally, in the same way that someone might say, “I would give my right arm…” for something. Accordingly, Jesus suggests you might give your right arm to make sure no stumbling block is placed in the path of a child.
What does this mean? I would suggest that placing stumbling blocks in the path of children means to traumatize them, exploit them, or simply affect them in ways that blunt their trust, dull their curiosity, quench their enthusiasm, stifle their laughter, or diminish their hope. Placing stumbling blocks means pushing them out of the path of being who they are meant to be. Jesus says it is worth giving your right arm (hand, foot, eye) to keep that from happening.
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “The kingdom of God: Mysteries of the kingdom” by Mark Allan Powell in the January/February 2022 Gather magazine.
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