Summary: Jesus speaks some strange words about cutting off a hand, a foot and rmeoving an eye just to follow Him. Did He really maen it or was He telling us about how best to serve Him? The latter is the true answer.
EXCISING ERRONEOUS ENTANGLEMENTS
I. EXTERNALS: *
II. EXPECTATIONS: **
III. EFFECTS: ***
Jesus gives some strong words and lessons in the latter part of Mark 9. Mark compiles this chapter by including four different happenings in the life of Christ. The chapter opens with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then, upon decent from the Mount, Jesus heals a boy who was possessed by a devil. Next, Mark relates how that Jesus left and crossed over into Capernaum where He reminded the disciples that to be first in His kingdom, one had to become like a child. The chapter closes with John telling Jesus that he saw one doing things in the name of Jesus and wondered if that was proper. From this introduction, Jesus then gives what is necessary to be a true follower of Him and then concludes by reminding His listeners, and we readers, just what He wants from us if we desire to follow Him. The message was not lost on John: if the one he saw was as Jesus required, then all was okay. However, it was more important that John and the rest of His disciples-including us-measure our lives by His standard and do as He wants us to do. And, if we do as He stated there will be a great Excising of Erroneous Entanglements by all of us.
As I study the last part of this chapter, there are three things which dominate my attention regarding what it takes to follow the Master. The first thing I note is that there are some External things that must be taken care of if I want to follow Him. These things have a direct bearing upon the environment in which I now live. The next thing I note in this passage regarding what it takes to follow Jesus has to do with His EXPECTATIONS of me, should I decide to be a Christian. The last part of this chapter deals with the EFFECTS that will flow from my decision whether to follow Him or not.
*EXTERNALS: Jesus was adamant in His reply to John about some things which must be avoided if one were to follow Him. The decision on whether or not to follow Him rests in certain areas of life and Jesus was telling John that he was to take care of these things himself and let Him, Christ, decide about the other person with whom John had been comparing himself.
These things are EXTERNALS and the words of Jesus, in referring to them, seem so out of context to the gentle Jesus. He was saying strange things like cutting off the hand, the foot and plucking out the eye. Taken at face value these things do not make sense with the rest of the Master’s words about yielding the whole body to Him so He can use it for His glory. Also, if taken at face value then every person who comes to believe in Him should begin the mutilation process of one’s body in order to be a better follower of Him. I do not know about you, but I would not want to begin to remove one of my hands or one of my feet nor remove an eye just so I can claim to be a Christian. Furthermore, I do not think that this would appeal to the masses of the world if they hear that they have to dismember themselves in order to follow Jesus.
Yet, these are the strange words spoken by Jesus to John. The question then arises, did the Master really mean the EXCISING of parts of our bodies in order to be His child or did He have some other meaning involved here for all who are following Him? Remember, that Jesus was an Oriental, who spoke in terms which are sometimes strange to we Occidentals. He also lived in a different time and expressions valid then need to be interpreted in the light of the time given. If we take these verses under study with these thoughts in mind, we are able to gain a better picture of what He was tying to tell John and us, in today’s world.
The first thing I note is that Jesus told John if his hand offended him, he was to cut it off. If we take some liberty with the word, “hand” we can begin to move closer to what Jesus was trying to say. And if I am correct, the meaning of the verse makes a great deal of sense.
The hand represents, Energy. With our hands we, for the most part, gain our livelihood by hard work. The hand also represents friendship as we extend our hand for a handshake, or a pat on the back of a dear one. We use the hand to sooth the troubled child, to wipe away all tears, to applaud something great, to gesture, to signal hello and good-by. The hand does represent the inner Energy of the body. We do so much communicating with our hands, even if we are blessed with the ability of talking and listening.