The Gospel of Mark #24 - Hand, Foot, & Eye for the Kingdom
The Gospel of Mark #24:
Hand, Foot, and Eye for the Kingdom
Text: Mark 9:42-50
Thesis: To note that a Christian must be willing to do what it takes for the kingdom.
(1) Jesus has just stressed the necessity of being a servant and having tolerance in order to be great in the kingdom.
(2) He continues to define greatness by looking at what one should be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
I. The Story:
A. First, Jesus stresses the seriousness of one’s relationship with others.
1. “The ‘little ones’ of this verse represent the same persons as the ‘child’ in vv. 36-37: immature, weak, and perhaps new believers” (Brooks 152).
2. “In view of the context, the warning is specifically against causing them to sin because of [one’s] elitist, superior attitudes: the attitude which projects a kind of superior toleration for the bumbling enthusiasm of a new believer; that condemns his spiritual efforts with faint praise; that belittles his accomplishments and douses them with cold skepticism” (Hughes 2:38).
3. Jesus says that “it is better to drown in the sea with no chance of escape than to face the judgment that God will dish out to those who lead others to sin” (Garland 369).
B. Second, Jesus stresses the fact that some things are worth sacrificing for the greater good.
1. “The hand symbolizes what we do, the foot where we go, and the eye what we see” (Hughes 2:40).
2. These metaphors are used in Matthew 5:29-30, but in Mark, they are in the context of pride.
3. “Jesus used the most startling metaphors possible to show that the possession of spiritual life is worth the most costly sacrifice” (Brooks 153).
4. He says that “it is better now to take every precaution and to cut off everything in our lives that leads us to sin than to be punished later in fiery Gehenna” (Garland 370).
5. Verse 48 is a quotation of Isaiah 66:24 and portrays hell not only “as a place of eternal fire, but as a realm whose inhabitants are inhabited by maggots that are not killed by fire” (Black 174) [Note: Verses 44 and 46 are not in the oldest mss.].
C. Third, Jesus discusses the necessity of suffering and the importance of one’s influence.
1. Verse 49 is best understood with the background of Leviticus 2:13, where salt was added to Old Testament sacrifices.
a. One must be a willing sacrifice (cf. Rom. 12:1).
b. ‘Fire’ symbolized persecution. [Note: This ‘fire’ must be understood differently than the ‘fire’ in verse 48].
(1) Some persecution is the result of one’s being a Christian (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12).
(2) Sometimes, the fire may be the refiner’s fire (cf. Mal. 3:2).
c. Overall, this verse means “that the life which has undergone the trials and destructions and hardships and perils of persecution is the life which is acceptable to God” (Barclay 242).
2. In verse 50, Jesus stresses the importance of being the salt of the earth.
a. In foods, salt helps to bring out the taste and preserve.
b. Christians are to bring out the best in others.
c. Salt may lose its “saltiness.”
(1) Salt may lose its ability to be a “flavoring agent” when it is mixed with impurities.
(2) When it does, then it is no longer good for anything.
d. The last part of verse 50 probably carries the idea of “simply to give life and preservation to the world” (Brooks 154).
II. The Application:
A. Live a life in such a way that uplifts others and doesn’t cause them to stumble.
B. Be willing to sacrifice anything that would hinder you on your journey to heaven.
C. Be willing to endure sufferings in such a way that you come out a better person.
D. Give attention to your influence and make sure that it brings out the best in others.
(1) What is heaven worth to you?
(2) Will you leave behind the old life so that you may enjoy the better life?