Lecture 12: Exaggeration
Course: New Testament Survey - Gospels
In your syllabus, you will notice that we are dealing now with the method of Jesus' teaching, and then we will deal with the message shortly after that. Notice the title of one of your books, "The Method and Message of Jesus' Teaching."
What impressed me was not only that Jesus taught great things, but He taught them in a way that made people excited. It was not only that Jesus made some pronouncement, and lightning would strike from heaven or something like that, and people would say, "Oh, I had better pay attention," or the like. He presented his teaching in ways, first of all, that was memorable.
I. Recognizing Exaggeration
Now, one of the literary forms Jesus used in His teaching was the use of exaggeration. Now, I have divided that up into two parts. Hyperbole, which is an exaggeration so great that it is impossible to think of it literally, and the other, overstatement, where you could think of this taking place, but you would be wrong in doing so. They are both forms of exaggeration.
Throughout the history of the Church, many Christians have intuitively been guided by the use of common sense and other things to interpret which words were exaggerated in form. However, that is not always so. There have been some tragic instances in history where people have mutilated themselves, cut off an arm, plucked out an eye, or so forth because they took the words of Jesus literally rather than the meaning of those words.
Rather than just depending on intuition, I want to list here some rules and guides that help us to understand if Jesus is using a saying in the sense of exaggerated form. Now, exaggeration is legitimate if both parties understand it to be exaggerated. If only one is using this literary form, then it can be rather dishonest. Both speaker and hearer must understand this genre to make it legitimate. For instance, Mary, who is a bank teller at Fifth Third here in Louisville, when the examiners come and examine the books, they cannot say, "Ah, I guess Mary's using hyperbole again here." Dr. Robert Stein: "That is dishonest, and it is criminal." However, when two people in love speak, it is almost impossible to express yourself without using exaggeration. Because this is a form of commissive language that conveys, not just specific meaning, but also emotions and feelings. Moreover, thus, it is a very powerful form of the genre. Now, sometimes Jesus uses a form of this, which is hyperbolic, and everyone immediately knows that it cannot be taken literally.
A. Statement is literally impossible
Turn with me to Page 60 in your synopsis, at some sayings here. Matthew 7:3-5, line 27 on Page 60 in your synopsis, Jesus says, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but does not notice the log that is in your eye?"
"Or how can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye when there is the log in your eye? You hypocrite. First, take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Now, when Jesus said that, no one in His audience said, "Well, that is dumb. You cannot get a log in a person's eye. It does not make any sense."
The fact is I remember an—a—Christian artist trying to portray this visually, and it was a disaster. I mean, there are some things you can do with art, you cannot do with other forms. However, there are some things you can do in prose that you cannot do with art. Here is something that you just cannot picture.
When people heard this, they did not say, "Well, that is dumb." They said, "No, is not that true? It is so easy to see the speck, the little things in one's own lives—in other people's lives—excuse me—and then, lose sight of the big flaws in your own life."
I remember teaching his one night and driving home, and there happened to be a woman in the—in the—car ahead of me. Came to a corner— —a crossroad, and at the last minute, she hit the brake and turned right. Moreover, I was mad. We got signal lights.
Well, she happened to use the signal lights, but it was after the brake, and as she was turning. (At that point, it is too late to use the signal light; then, it makes no sense. You use the signal light first, then you hit your brake, then turn.
I was really mad. , not noticing that I had—had—happened to go through the red light that was at that street corner. However, that is understandable. You see, going through red lights is one thing, but not using signal lights, that is next to kind of the unpardonable sin, I think in the Bible. Isn't there something like that? It is so easy to see the flaws in your own—in other people's lives and not notice the big ones on your own. So it is a powerful way of saying this.
Moreover, that, you cannot visualize it. It is not meant to be visualized. It is meant to be understood as a hyp—hyperbolic form, which conveys the meaning very, very powerfully. Now, if you go to Page 56, Matthew 6:2-4, you notice there, Jesus says, "When you give alms, sound no trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets that you may be praised by men. Truly I say to you; they have received their reward."
"But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that your alms may be in secret and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Well, this Sunday, when you give your offering, say, "Do not look, left hand." Does not make any sense.
I mean, how can your left hand not know what your right hand is doing? When you think of it, how can your left hand know n—anything? Hands do not know anything. What you are kind of saying is, do not pay attention to what you are about to do.
Which, of course, means you—you are going to know—even more clearly what you are about to do. However, the meaning is clear. You are to do your alms giving in secret. It is not to be known to others. What you are giving is.
It is between you and God. And the IRS, the Internal Revenue Service. Okay, but it is something between you and God that should be done in private. On-Page 252, you have this pun that Jesus uses.
It is very, very powerful. See lines 67 and the following—66. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, and faith, and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guide, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel." Well, have you looked at a camel recently?
Really. A little too big to swallow. However, the point is well made, and we have pointed out this is also a pun because the camel is 'Gamla' and gnat is 'Gamla.' So, here you have this idea that you can become so piquing with your religious duties, that you do these little things like tithing the mint and dill in your garden, but you do not practice love, and justice, and mercy, which is more important.
B. Statement conflicts with what Jesus says elsewhere
So, you have this use of hyperbole in all these instances that are impossible, and you know right away that it has to be an exaggerated form. Now, there are other kinds like overstatement where you could take something literally, but in so doing, you would make a mistake. One of the clues, I think, that is available for us, is that if Jesus makes a saying that conflicts with what he says elsewhere, then you should have to see this as a red flag waving. Say, "Wait, are we using hyperbole in—in this particular instance?"
Turn with me to Page 193. Here you have Jesus' saying about what it means to be a disciple. And, and Luke fourteen, twenty-five, "Now great multitudes accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.'"
Now in the '70s, when there was a—a—large Jesus movement in the country, there were a lot of these groups that—the—this is almost like their theme verse. Moreover, families have just torn apart, and parents were deeply hurt by these young sons and daughters who had now decided to follow Jesus and were going to hate them. Well, it is clear that if you look at this and compare it to what Jesus says elsewhere, you cannot take this literally.
Jesus says, "Love your enemies." However, now, if you hate your parents, then they at least qualify for—for—being enemies, and then you have to love them anyhow. So it—something here has to give, and what it is, is its exaggeration. There is a sense in which, when you choose one person over another, it means you love one and hate the other just as Jacob loved Rachel more than he loves Leah.
Moreover, the next verse says, "When the Lord saw that Leah was hated." He did not hate Leah. They had five children. Something is going on here other than hatred for one another, I would think. However, he loved Rachel more.
Moreover, when you love one more than the other, you love one, and you hate the other. It is kind of an idiomatic expression. Moreover, there is a sense in which our love for Jesus Christ must be so much greater than any other love that even the noblest form of human love must pale in comparison.
In our last home, we had white walls, but if you put a sheet of white typing paper next to it, you would say, "The walls are not white. They are gray." Moreover, there is a sense in which your love and my love for Jesus Christ must be such that all human love, as great as it is, has a grayish tinge in comparison to it. You must love one more than the other.
However, you use this form of an overstatement to get the point across there as well. , Page 56, here you have in Matthew 6:6, Jesus teaching about prayer. "And when you pray, you must be—not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and the corners of the street that they may be seen."
"Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward. However, when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father, who is in secret. Moreover, your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you."
All right, when you pray. However, there are times when you pray outside of that situation. Look right across the—the page. Here, Jesus teaches His disciples the prayer. "Pray, then, like this: Our Father who art in heaven." How do you pray "our" if you are alone? Right? This is a corporate prayer. What Jesus knows is there is time for corporate prayer.
However, prayer is not to be made an item of the show to indicate your pride. It is between you and God. However, not everybody has a closet they can bring along with them. They—jump into it to pray whenever they need to.
When my wife and I go out to eat, we always pray before the meal. Now, I do not stand on top of the table, waving my arms, and say, "Listen, you pagans out there. My wife and I are going to pray before we eat." No, we just quietly and unobtrusively as we can, thank God for the food.
Because we are not hungry. God has been good to us. I have never seen my children hungry and never had a situation where I did not have something to give them to eat. Thus, I take food, not for granted, but I thank God for it. However, it is not to be done as a show.
It is to be done privately between you and God. Then you have another statement in Matthew 23, 22, two, and three, Page 250.
This has to be understood as somewhat of an overstatement. When you do not qualify something that has exceptions, that is an overstatement. Here he says on page 250, line five, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat to practice and observe what—and so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do."
"For they preach, but do not practice." In general, you can pay attention to what the Pharisees and scribes teach. They—Their teaching is all right. Do what they say.
There are exceptions to that. However, Jesus is not interested in listing exceptions. He gives the general rule. Here are the teachers. You can listen to what they say but do not do what they do because they are hypocrites.
Now, if a statement conflicts with what Jesus says elsewhere and Jesus criticizes the Pharisees time and time again, in that very same chapter, "You brood of vipers," and so forth He gives to them. However, in light of what He says elsewhere about the Pharisees, this should warn you that this is an overstatement.
C. Statement conflicts with behavior and actions of Jesus elsewhere
Sometimes, an action of Jesus conflicts with His behavior. For instance, Luke 14:26, about hating father and mother. Well, when He is on the cross, he does not seem to manifest that in His behavior. "Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother."
He is concerned about his mother, so it is evident that there is something in Jesus' behavior that does not fit. He respects—loves His father and mother.
Later on in His ministry, when His father has died, He honors His mother in this way as well. All right, Page 95, you have another example of that. In Matthew 10:34, another example of exaggerated terminology. Bottom of the page. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have come not to bring peace, but the sword."
However, many times, we have sayings of Jesus, the behavior of Jesus, that conflicts with that.
"Blessed are the peacemakers." Shouldn't that somehow warn you that a Beatitude towards those who make peace, and a saying that He does not come to bring peace, but a sword, do not really go together if you take them both literally? Moreover, this must be figurative in many ways.
We had His behavior about prayer. There are many times Jesus prayed out in the mountain by Himself. He prayed at Gethsemane. How do we know what Jesus prayed at Gethsemane?
His prayer was overheard. They heard him pray. It was not as private as the teaching about praying in private if you take that literally as such.
D. Statement conflicts with teachings of the Old Testament
Matthew 5:33 and 37, Page 54, "Again, you have heard that it was said of men of old, you shall not swear falsely but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn. However, I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the City of the Great King. "And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply yes or no. Anything more than that comes from evil." It is interesting to note that Jesus, at His trial, was silent up to one point.
At the very bottom of Page 303, the high priest says to Jesus, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that you testify about those who testify against you."
But Jesus was silent, and the high priest said to Him—Now, Jesus is silent up to this point—"'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of the gos—the Son of God.' And Jesus said, 'You have said so.'" At this point, Jesus no longer is silent.
Now, why? Well, He has been placed under oath. An oath found in the Old Testament. It says that if you are placed under oath by the priest, you must answer. If you are silent, this assumed your guilt.
You say, "Well, why doesn't he plead the Fifth Amendment?" There is no Fifth Amendment in the Old Testament, right? If you do not answer, it says you are guilty. At this point now, Jesus accepts the legitimacy of that oath to be placed under, and he now responds. Only Matthew, by the way, tells us about His responding at this point because of the oath. So Jesus accepts, at this point, the legitimacy of an oath.
However, what He is saying is, "Hey, look, when you are placed under oath, don't—you are going to accept that. However, when you say an oath voluntarily, be careful." In other words, the rabbis discussed among themselves, "When must you keep an oath?"
Moreover, this is in the Talmudic literature. Moreover, one said, "Well, if you were to make an oath to a Gentile, you would not have to keep it."
Moreover, they said, "Well, yeah, but what would happen if you made an oath to a Gentile in God's name? In the name of YHWH, our God?" And then, one rabbi said, "Well then, you would have to keep it." Furthermore, another rabbi said, "If it is to a Gentile, even then, you do not have to keep it."
When do you have to keep your word? In light of this, Jesus says, "Do not swear at all. Let your yes be yes, and your no, no."
Now, there are people who do not believe in swearing at all. Mennonites many times come from a background that they do not take oaths of any sort. Moreover, an interesting incident came up when Jim Chancellor and his wife had married, and they were coming from Canada to the United States. , they were planning to live in the United States, and, as they came, his wife was not a citizen.
So the person at the Customs said, "Well, Mrs. Chancellor, do you swear that you will not take up armed resistance to the government?" Moreover, she said, "No." Well, that kind of shook them up. Furthermore, he said, "Well, what do you mean?" She says, "Well, I said no."
Furthermore, this person's someone new—he went to the head of the Customs and said, "We got someone who will not swear—that—promise not to—to take up armed resistance against the government."
He came out, and he looked at her, and he says, "You are a Mennonite, aren't you?" She says, "Yes, I am." And he said, "Would you give us your word that you will not try to overthrow the government by force?" She said, "Yes." "Well, that is good enough for us. Fine."
He recognized, because of her Mennonite background, she took this literally. She could not take an oath. Now, I do not think that is exactly what is meant here. I think, for instance, if I were called in a court of law, "Bob Stein, you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?"
I would have no problem saying, "Yes, I do." I might like to say something like, "Well, your honor, I am a Christian, and God has told me that I should not lie, so I do not have to, but if it will make you feel good, sure, why not?"
That—That would be a little showboating unnecessarily. , but I think the point of it here is, if you have to swear so that people will believe you, then your character is such that no swearing in the world would cause a person to believe you.
I have a friend, and if I asked Mack to do something for me, and if he said, "I will do it, Bob," I know he would do it. If he died, maybe, he would not be able to do it, but he will do it. I have others that, if they swore by their mother's grave, they would do it, I would leave and say, "I do not think he is going to do it. I better make sure some other way."
Your yes should be yes. Your no, no. If you are a people of character like Jesus says you are, you ought to be, a "yes" is all that's needed.
Yes and no. My dad—that was not a religious person in a normal sense that we judge this, but I remember his saying something to me. He said to me, "Bob, I gave him my word." There were years in the past when people would give their word, and they would shake hands.
Now, you can have legal contracts that you sign, and you look for loopholes. You should have the character that yes means yes and no means no. That is all you need. When you have that, you do not even have to swear. All right, sometimes—the kind—something—, that Jesus says conflicts with the Old Testament.
For instance, the saying about hating father or mother. And that, don't you realize that one of the Ten Commandments is, "Honor your father and mother"? There is something radically wrong here.
E. Statement conflicts with teachings of the New Testament
And that should immediately make you say, "Wait a minute. Is he ignorant of this? Is he going against the Old Testament? Alternatively, is he using a literary form to get the point across, such as overstatement." And, of course, it is that way. Sometimes something we find here conflicts with the New Testament teaching. For instance, this—this statement about not giving oaths. Well, if you looked at Hebrew 6:16 and following.
We read, "Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their dispute an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the character of His promise, He interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled to Him for refuge might be fine strong in character." In other words, God gave an oath in the Old Testament. Did Jesus know that?
Of course, He did. He knew the Old Testament well. What God did, was to give an oath, and of course, when we give oaths, we swear by something bigger than we are, greater than us. So we swear by God or by the Bible or something like that.
However, how does God swear an oath? Well, He swears on His name, His honor, of which there is nothing greater. So, here you have another instance. You had, on Page 55, another saying of Jesus in verse 42, line 9, on the top of Page 55.
Jesus says, "Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you." Give to him who begs from you. Now, Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:10, says that you should not do that, at times. Now, there is a specific example of this, I will read it to you, but the instance is such that Paul says, in this instance, do not give to those who ask you.
2 Corinthians 3:10 says, at the beginning of verse 8, "We do not eat any of one's bread without paying. It was not because we have not the right, but to give you an example. Thus, we give the command. If anyone does not work, let him not eat."
Now, there were people in Thessalonica that were asking and were refusing to work. "The Lord is coming. Why should we work anymore? And besides, you have more than enough for both of us."
And Paul says, in that situation you do not feed them. If they have work to do, and they can work, then do not feed them. However, can't you think of instances when you would not take care of the person who is asking you simply for money?
You pastors are going to have real wisdom in this, because there will be many times people who are in need will come to you, and some of them will say, "could you give me some money. I have not eaten for a while."
And you are not sure as what is going on here. Will they use it for food, or will they use it for alcohol, or drugs, or something like that? And I remember several instances where a person would come up, and they would say, "I need money for, bus fare to get back home." They go, "I am broke." Then I say, "Well, why don't we go to the bus station. I will buy you a ticket."
Bought him a ticket, fed him, and then put him on the bus to go. However, I would not give him cash, because I am not sure how they would use it.
If you have children, what happens when Johnny comes home and says, "I finally figured out my verse for life. Give to whoever—give to everyone who asks you. And I want you to apply that verse and show how—I want a new bicycle."
If you love your children, many times, you will not give what they ask because it would not be good for them. So you have examples, and y—you—the question is, how will you word it without being exaggerated? Would you say, "Give to everyone who asks you, except in the following hypothetical situations."
And list 20, 30 situations like that. No, you cannot do that. You expect common sense and, in light of the other teachings of scripture, that this commissive form of language, which seeks to emphasize the importance of generosity, the willingness many times to have your generosity abused, but not be completely silly and foolish on those issues.
F. Statement is interpreted by another Evangelist in a non-literal way
Sometimes, another evangelist takes that same statement and interprets it in a way that indicates that it is not to be understood literally. Turn to Page 193 for this one on hating father and mother. What we have here in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to you and does not hate his father, mother, and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Probably that is a more authentic, more primitive, more like what Jesus said—saying.
However, Matthew has given us a thought-for-thought translation, which gets the meaning across. And there he says, "He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." So you have an evangelist interpreting this saying in a way that indicates it is not to be understood literally but as an exaggerated form of terminology.
I am wondering too, if you have in Mark 10:11, 16:18 of Luke, and 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, where you have this saying on divorce.
Turn with me to page 216. Both Luke and 1 Corinthians, used that saying, and Mark, have no exception. However, if you look at Matthew, there is an exception. Page 216, line 27, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her."
"And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." Luke follows the same wording, but Matthew has the exception clause. "But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for unchastity and marries another commits adultery."
And many questions are raised in that passage. Much work has been done on it. My understanding is that what Jesus is saying is, is capable of having an exception.
Matthew interprets it that way, and Paul also does in 1 Corinthians when he raises a new situation that is not envisioned by any of the Gospel writers. And that is, if a believer is deserted by their unbelieving partner, then they are free, Paul says. And my understanding of being "free" means that free to remarry.
So that here, if Matthew's exception is—is an exception, we have an example of a hyperbolic form of that saying in Jesus' teaching.
And that Mark and Luke take Jesus' teaching in the word-for-word translation, but Matthew has an inspired advantage, which gives an interpretation of that. And Matthew 10:34, Page 95, we have another example where the evangelist himself, by providing a context for us, helps us to understand the saying which looks to all extents and purposes, being an exaggerated form.
Matthew 10:34, the bottom of the page, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have come not to bring peace but a sword." Well, we already looked at other sayings of Jesus about "Blessed are the peacemakers," and so forth. However, notice the next verses on the following page.
"For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes will be those of his household." Here we have an understanding of what kind of division he has come to bring.
There is nothing like here of revolution. Nothing political here, but talks about the divisions that Jesus sometimes brings within families themselves. Most times, families tend to be united in Christ, but there can be exceptions. And we have some Jewish Christians who are studying here, whose—have had real hard troubles in their families.
I remember one Jewish Christian telling me that his mother and father, after a while, said to him, "If you love us, you will give up this Jesus stuff." And he said, "Well, I cannot. I love Jesus, but I love you very much." And they said, "No, you hate us."
And sometimes, in a real orthodox Jewish background, you have a funeral for the child while they are still living. Because as far as they are concerned, you are dead. Sometimes that does happen, and yet, for most times, there is u—union.\
G. Statement is not always literally fulfilled in practice
However, here Jesus is saying the one point, emphasizing that sometimes that d—that does happen. Sometimes the statement is not fulfilled literally and in reality. 255, we have the saying about Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount. , excuse me, not a Sermon on the Mount, on The Mount of Olives. Top of Page 255, the disciples say, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings."
And Jesus said to them, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." Any of you been to Israel? Temple area, Wailing Wall, see the layers of stone that go back to Herod's day. Actually, below the surface, there is one place where you—they have cut out a couple of stones, and you can see 16 additional layers of stone that go back to Herod's time.
It is not true. There are still stones that still exist on top of each other. However, if you talk to anybody who is still alive in A.D. 70, after the fall of Jerusalem, everyone would say, this is fulfilled literally. There was a valley between the Temple and the Western hills. After A.D. 70, there was no valley.
It is all filled with the ruins of the Temple. However, if I were to say to you that you know, next Tuesday when I come back, I am sorry to say that there is not going to be one building standing here. Every one of the buildings here will be a ruin. There will not even be two bricks still cemented together. And if you came on Tuesday and saw this huge pile of destroyed buildings.
And somebody climbed up to the top and held up two bricks cemented together and said, "He was wrong. It is still here." Wouldn't you laugh at them? Sure. How would you want Jesus to say it? Would you want Him to say, "Do you see these great stones? Let me tell you that there will not be more than 1.69 percent of the stones that are still attached. Might be maybe more scientifically accurate. That is not the way you use commissive language.
H. Statement's literal fulfillment would not achieve the desired goal
Thus, it is exaggerated terminology. Another one is 61, one saying on prayer. "Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be open to you. To everyone who asks, receives. And he who seeks finds. And to him who knocks, it will be opened." I have never shared with you that I have always wanted to be a missionary. I felt a particular burden to be a—a—a missionary to the filthy rich of the world, however.
And I have sought to establish a mission foundation to get me working. I thought probably the best place to do this would be Monte Carlo, where there are a lot of very filthy rich people who need the healing of the Gospel. And I have been trying to equip myself for that ministry. , homes are fairly expensive, so we are talking probably about oh, $15-- $20 Million that needs to have one that you would be able to bring the rich in to witness to them, and so forth.
And you might not need a Mercedes, but you could not go much less than a Lexus, or they would not respect your testimony. And then I thought the best place to witness would be a nice yacht about 70 feet long or so, out in the harbor where you relax, and sip ice tea, sweetened or unsweetened. And then share the Gospel with them. I know some of you will laugh, and then you would say, "You asked and received not because you asked to consume it on your lusts."
James, hey, you pick your favorite Bible and theme verse for life. I will pick mine. Mine is seven and eight here. Now, Jesus anticipated that God is not going to answer the silly requests that Bob Stein asks in this regard. God delights in answering our prayers.
However, how do you---again—do you want Him to ask? Do you say, "Ask, and it shall be given to you? Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. He who seeks finds. And to him who knocks, it will be opened, except in the following instances." And then you have a list of exceptions.
What would happen if He did it that way? Where would you focus your attention? On the exceptions. What does Jesus want you to focus your attention on?
Dr. Robert Stein: The promises, all right? So we use that all the time. I used that once, with—with my children. We were Julie, and Keith was helping me in the backyard of our house. We had two huge weeping willow trees.
Part of the—When God said there would—he would place a curse upon the earth, that involves weeping willow trees if you own them. They look real nice, but they are garbage trees. It is just terrible to clean up afterward.
Well, we were—we spent about three hours, my—my—my children, Julie was about 12, Keith about ten, and we worked, oh, to about four o'clock. And then Julie finally said, "Keith—Keith and I are tired, Dad. We wanna quit."
Thus, I said to her, "Well, Julie, we are just about done. If we work ten more minutes." And I said, "—i—in just ten more minutes, we will have it all done. And then afterward, we will go out to eat, and you can order anything you want."
Now, I did not qualify that. However, they knew that we were not going to go out to Ruth's Chris's Steakhouse.
Dr. Robert Stein: They knew they were going to go to McDonald's, and anything on the McDonald's menu, they could have. However, see, if I qualified it, the joy of the promise i—is hindered by that. So I say, "We will go out and have anything." And they understood it was a perfectly good way of communicating you accepted that there were unspoken conditions that were there.
So, here, Jesus does the same about prayer. He wants us to emphasize that God delights in our prayers. He does not want to emphasize the conditions that—do not take place. On 53, Page 53, we have a statement again, which is exaggerated terminology.
Dr. Robert Stein: "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body is thrown into hell."
"If your right-hand causes you to sin, cut it off, and throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body goes into hell." Well, that is using the context upon looking upon a woman to lust. Now, if you pluck out your right eye, you can lust well with your left. Right? And if you pluck out your left eye, you can still, in your mind, lust.
Now, if you pluck out the gray matter of your brain, you will solve things quickly, but the fact is, what we are talking about here is not self-mutilation.
Because it would not bring the desired result, what Jesus is in effect saying is something like, there is no sin worth going to hell for. Better to repent if it is as painful as plucking out an eye or cutting off an arm, and enter life, so made, than to perish never having experienced that repentance and pain of repentance. All right, sometimes a statement may use a literary form that's prone to exaggerations.
I. Statement uses a particular literary form prone to exaggeration
For instance, poetry. Proverbs. A proverb is a universal saying, but it is a general rule. There can be exceptions to it.
J. Statement uses idiomatic language that no longer bears its literal meaning
Poetry is also prone to exaggeration a lot. Idiomatic language Page 120 favorite term that is found in Matthew talked about in 41 and 42.
"Son of man will send his angels. They will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and the evildoing and throw them into the furnace of fire. There, men will weep and gnash their teeth." Now, that is an idiom.
Does it mean that people will have no teeth will be given teeth in the resurrection so they can gnash them? Or is an idiom that talks about the pain? When do you gnash your teeth? It is an expression of pain. That is what the hell is going to be like.
K. Statement uses all-inclusive and universal language
Thus, you do not push—the literalness of the language, but you push what the language is trying to teach. The literal meaning, in other words, about making sure that one does not perish and that kind of thing. Also, sometimes you have all-inclusive language. Let us look at Page 156 for just one quick example of that. You can use universal language without exception, but many times the way it is used allows for this.
On line 38, Mark 9:23, "And Jesus said to them, 'If you can, all things are possible to Him who believes.'" All things are not possible. You cannot become God. Despite the fact, many of us would like to. How would you want Jesus to say it? Would you like Him to say, "Many things are possible to one who believes."
That might be more technically and scientifically correct. However, that is not the way commissive language works. It is not the way exaggerated terminology works.