Jesus tells his disciples, “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8).
Jesus begins this sentence with the word Wherefore, meaning, “in the light of this.” He is tying his statement into the whole context of the lesson he’s been teaching about mixing works with the cross. So, when he says here, “If your hand or foot or eye offends you,” he’s talking about the offense that the cross brings to the flesh.
When Jesus says, “Pluck it out—cut it off,” he’s talking to Jewish listeners first about their confidence in their own good works. The hand, foot and eye all represent flesh—instruments of independence, by which man goes his own way, relying on self-will and human effort to rid himself of sinful bondages. Christ is saying to such a person, “Your eye is focused on the wrong thing. You’re looking at your own ability and power. Therefore, pluck out your eye. You have to rid your body, mind and heart of all such evil thinking. Renounce it, surgically remove it. Cut off all hope of offering to God anything of your own merit or goodness. Lust and offences must be cut off—but not by your hands. It is the work of the Spirit.
“Then simply run into my arms. Humble yourself like a child by embracing my victory on the cross. Commit to a life of total devotion and dependence on me. Because of my work at Calvary, you are no longer your own. I have bought you. My Spirit will fulfill my demand for holiness in you.”