MARK 9:30-50 (NIV – UK)
Jesus predicts his death a second time
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’
36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.’
Whoever is not against us is for us
38 ‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’
39 ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Causing to stumble
42 ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung round their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where
‘“the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” [Isaiah 66:24]
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.’
THE NEED FOR SACRIFICE
Jesus’ teaching here can be summed up like this: It is better for us to sacrifice parts of ourselves and join Jesus in his Kingdom, than to hold on to those parts and and go to hell. But what does he mean? Are we to really chop a hand off or pluck out an eye? Hopefully not!
What Jesus is really driving at is those things in our lives that keep us from him – those things that we call ‘sin’ – those things that keep us from giving ourselves to him – following our own way rather than his. When we choose to follow Jesus, when we give our lives to him, we are making the choice to sacrifice those parts of our lives that are not of him – we are choosing to turn away from sin. But if we say we are giving our lives to Jesus, but then just persist in our old life, in our old ways – enjoying those things that keep us from him – we must ask the question of ourselves – ‘have I really given my life to Jesus?’
Jesus shows us what a life of sacrifice looks like. To follow Jesus is to live a life of sacrifice – and here Jesus commands us to give up those things in our lives that we know shouldn’t be there – to sacrifice those things that keep us from him – no matter what the consequences may be – whether we lose a hand, a foot, or an eye, or anything else as a result – it’s worth it!
Question: Is there anything in your life that you know shouldn’t be there? How can you sacrifice it?