Summary: Salty things are spoken by Christ, to remind us of who we are and what we need.
October 19, 2003 Mark 9:38-50
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.
I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
If your hand causes you to sin, 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. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, 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, where ”‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Several weeks ago Rush Limbaugh made a comment that stirred the pots of sports talk and the national media when he said that Donovan McNabb was over-rated because the media wanted black quarterbacks to succeed. After the statement was made, talk shows were lighting up with comments, and the national news media was having a feeding frenzy. ESPN was also criticized for even bringing Rush into the program. “They should have known what they were getting,” many said. They were looking for someone to stir the pot and add some controversy, and they got it - more than they wanted.
On the Washburn Campus a statue was put up called “Holier than Thou.” It’s the portrayal of a Catholic Priest who looks like he’s three sheets to the wind. If I remember correctly, the quote below it ridicules the priests who the artist had to confess to, who were also molesting children. This statue has also caused a wave of criticism and controversy on campus. According to the panel that accepted the statue, it was meant to “generate discussion.” If that was it’s goal, it definitely was met.
There are some people that love controversy - to stir the pot. Whereas most people don’t like to argue, you’ve always got some people who love to say things or do things just to get people worked up. You might say that they like to add some salt to a bland conversation. Sometimes it is obnoxious and out of line. But sometimes a seemingly radical statement can serve to open people’s minds to think outside the box - or at least get them to defend what they disagree with.
Wouldn’t you say that in a good sense - Jesus was one of the kind of people? When he spoke, people didn’t fall asleep. They would either end up steaming mad, warm and fuzzy, or at the very least perplexed. Scriptures never record anyone falling asleep during any of his sermons. He had an extreme way of saying things that caused divisions and making people angry or happy. Maybe that’s why they accused him of being an insurrectionist. He does the same thing in today’s text - by speaking in an extreme manner about several things. This was a good thing - and He recommends us to do the same thing. So the theme for today is -
Don’t Forget the Salt
I. The salt is needed
Just last week we learned about how the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They were all wrapped up in who could do the greatest things to get the greatest rewards on Judgment Day. It really came down to a competition for them - on who could do the most and the greatest things. You can tell how the disciples were letting their quest for greatness effect the way that they got along with one another and also how they treated other Christians in a bad way. “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Why did the disciples stop the man driving out demons? He wasn’t doing anything wrong, and he wasn’t misusing Jesus’ name. They told him to stop, simply because the man WASN’T ONE OF THEM. In light of their previous argument you can’t help but assume that they really stopped him because wanted the glory for themselves - and they didn’t like to see anyone else with the same powers they had been giving. So they found a reason to stop him. It’s much like the story of young Joshua. When he heard that other people prophesying besides Moses, he was panicked about it and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” (Numbers 11:26) Even though there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, he wanted them to stop - because he wanted Moses to have all of the prophesying power. These reactions revealed an ungodly and selfish jealousy - that wanted to have a monopoly on doing the recognizable things.