John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.]  If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:38-50

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The kingdom of God has a final outcome and the stark reality is that ultimately each of us either perishes or enters into eternal life. The kingdom of God is talked about in this same ultimate sense in today’s passage. Ultimately, one either enters life/the kingdom of God or is cast into hell. 

In a parable in the Gospel of Matthew we are told God’s kingdom is “like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” We value our hands, feet, and eyes very much and can’t imagine doing without them. Today’s passage gauges the value of the kingdom of God by saying it would be even worth giving up these body parts to gain it. Giving up all that we have for the surpassing value of the kingdom of God is what it is all about. 

This group of disciples following Jesus with their fledgling faith are being drawn and compelled by Jesus to a much deeper faith. They will come to the child-like faith of the children gathered around Jesus. They will fully embrace the true kingdom and leave behind the religious system with its leaders who caused so many to stumble and were worthy of being cast into the sea, millstones and all. The day will come soon when their following Christ will cost them dearly, many even to the point of martyrdom. They will readily recognize those who are for Jesus and those who are against him and go forward in the advancement of the kingdom of God in powerful and amazing ways. They will be at peace with one another and remain savory as the salt of the earth. 

Earlier in the week we said we would explore something further on Friday. It had to do with when Jesus, Peter, James and John were coming down from the mountain and Jesus gave them orders not to talk about what they saw on the mountain until he is risen from the dead. We have a great example of Peter talking about this mountain top experience in 2 Peter 1:16-19 where he says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” This mountain top experience did serve Peter and the others well as they went on to serve God’s kingdom faithfully as people of great devotion and sacrifice.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, keep me from becoming unsalty and help me to go deeper in my faith. I want to value your kingdom more than anything else and I know you will help it to be so. I choose to be a person who faithfully serves you and your kingdom. Grant that I do so with great devotion and sacrifice. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!