The Apologist’s look at Mark 38-50

APOLOGETIC LOOK AT MARK 9:38-50

Mar 9:38  John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
Mar 9:39  But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.
Mar 9:40  For the one who is not against us is for us.
Mar 9:41  For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
Mar 9:42  “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Mar 9:43  And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
Mar 9:45  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
Mar 9:47  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
Mar 9:48  ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Mar 9:49  For everyone will be salted with fire.
Mar 9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

I take the context of Jesus teachings to start at vs 38 seeing John asked Jesus about the man casting out demons in Jesus name who “was not following us”. Jesus quickly answered that his works displayed a right attitude and as a miracle worker he would not be quick to speak evil of Jesus. Though Jesus didn’t avow him to the disciples as a selected disciple as he did the others, yet God has his servants in many places and empowers them to fulfill their callings with the same Spirit they receive. Jesus says “do not stop him” which the disciple John was quick to confess they attempted to do.

Jesus expresses a very deep concern here; discouraging God’s children from doing their work, or as Jesus calls it “causes them to sin” so that they hold unbelief toward God or put off the work God has given them to do has tremendous consequences. A millstone, a large round stone that is pulled by a donkey used for grinding grain or olives weighing hundreds of pounds is said to be a a better judgment than what will occur if you do not repent for offending one of God’s little ones. To tie one of these stones around the neck of a man and to hurl him into the sea with that stone will plunge him down to the dark depths so fast its horrifying.
The weight of the stone dragging that man down until it rests on the bottom of the sea drowns and crushes the man at the same time. This picture of judgment from men that is lesser than what God will do to offenders of his children should create horror in the minds of anyone attempting to hinder the faith and works of God’s children. Yet how carelessly and ignorantly the cultists and unbelievers attempt to persuade Christians to forsake their bibles, to call prayer empty powerless words and to denounce their Christ as an impostor or worse.

Jesus continues to explain to his disciples about a corollary of hindering others. The correlation is between hindering others and hindering oneself. Notice the cause-effect-judgment in three examples.
If your hand sins….cut it off….its better to be crippled….to enter life
If your foot sins…..cut it off…its better to be lame…to enter life
If your eyes sins…. throw it away…its better to be blinded….to enter the kingdom of God
Rather than the whole body be thrown into hell; this is the kind of judgment Jesus wants us to make on ourselves first. To consider the kingdom of God worth the sacrifice; the alternative is so terrible Jesus reiterates it three times; “thrown into hell”.
Notice how Jesus is turning the disciples to recognize that the mind of God is set upon this truth. Do not let yourself be hindered from entering the kingdom of God.

Jesus reversed the thought; the disciple John was warned about hindering others, but Jesus is teaching them not to succumb to hindrances even those very dear to them, even as dear as a hand, foot or eye. Here I believe is the importance of Jesus teaching.

1. We should not be a hindrance to others; we should take care not to stop the work or ministry of others who demonstrate a power that aligns with God’s word and ministry. Personal criterion often become a litmus test used against other Christians who are seeking to bring in the kingdom of God as you are.

2. We should not allow ourselves to be sidetracked from our ministries; we should not allow personal sins or outside influences to cause sin in our own hearts and make it hardened with unbelief.

Notice the judgment of God upon those who cause their brothers and sisters to sin by opposing them; terrible judgment awaits them. God will not have his people opposing his own people.
Secondly notice the same kind of judgment falls upon those who allow themselves to be turned away, those who have dear sins or something dear to them that causes them to sin places them in danger of hell fire.

God considers his kingdom so important and so precious that he warns both the offended and the offenders that forsaking love toward God or forsaking love toward the brothers has disastrous consequences.

As I understand this next verse “Everyone will be salted with fire”, which I take to mean that each man will be tempted to offend or be offended, but instead carry the same judgment as God does, consider the kingdom of God worth the sacrifice, the avoidance of hell worth the trouble in this life. Love one another, have peace toward one another; have salt in yourselves, which means the same judgment that God has toward this matter, have it in yourself. If the commands and judgments of God (the salt) will not preserve you and keep you, just what will improve God’s commands and judgments so that you will have the same mind as Christ? Jesus implies that there is nothing that will work to improve upon God’s judgments.

As Apologists we should be careful to encourage others in the faith, to be-careful not to discourage those who are not ‘following us’.
As Apologists let us hold fast the truth we have received  let us keep the gospel pure and ourselves un-spotted from the world. Gal 6:9  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Gal 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

By Marvin Torgeson

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