A threat to the egos of the disciples - Mark 9:38

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 9:38-10:31

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A threat to the egos of the disciples - Mark 9:38

The disciples had stopped an unnamed exorcist from casting out demons because he was not one of their small group following Jesus. Probably this man's success in conquering evil spirits in Jesus' name was a threat to the egos of the disciples who had recently failed in their efforts to do the same (9:17, 18).

Proud sense of importance - Mark 9:39-40

Jesus condemned them for denying that God could work through others. The disciples' narrowness and proud sense of importance were the opposite of the humility that is a part of true greatness.

Humility and godly intentions - Mark 9:41

Jesus added that his true followers were not measured by how amazing their works were. Even the giving of a cup of water contributed to the work of the kingdom. Again, humility and godly intentions were the measure of greatness.

Millstone - Mark 9:42

When Jesus spoke of these little ones he was referring to both the little child of verse 36 and the unnamed exorcist of verse 38. The disciples must not cause either one of them to stumble. To cause someone to stumble is to cause them spiritual harm. The phrase translated millstone could also be literally translated millstone of an ass, since it was typically worked by donkey-power. This was a large millstone (maybe as large as 4-5 feet in diameter) rather than a smaller (12-15 inch) hand-held stone.

Strong warnings - Mark 9:43-48

Jesus continued his strong warnings as he made clear to his followers that the demands of discipleship were great. Jesus told them to cut off an arm or a leg or tear out an eye if it was a cause of sin. These were all exaggerations Jesus made to communicate how serious dealing with sin had to be. The literal cutting off of a hand could never save from the danger of hell because sin comes from the heart not from the hand (7:20-23). See WLC 29, 83.

Fiery torment - Mark 9:47-48

Jesus quoted Isa. 66:24 to stress the eternal fiery torment of hell. The description was derived from the Valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem where the city's trash was burned.

Salted with fire - Mark 9:49

Jesus continued to refer to fire, but he began to talk about not only those condemned to hell, but also his own people. He said, everyone will be salted with fire. Old Testament sacrifices were salted (Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24). Jesus warned them that his sacrificing disciples would be tried with fire. This was not a surprise to Christians in Rome for whom this Gospel was written.

Being salt with each other - Mark 9:50

Jesus continued to use the image of salt, but shifted his focus. He urged his disciples to maintain saltiness. It is the same kind of character Jesus praised in Matt. 5: 13, You are the salt of the earth. Followers of the Messiah make a difference in the lives of everyone around them. Jesus' emphasis here was not on being salt in the world. He urged them to have salt among yourselves. His concern was being salt with each other. This section of the gospel had been about the demands of discipleship. Jesus called them to humble service of each other and the little ones of God's kingdom. Greatness is the kind of service that grows peace among the followers of the Messiah. Peace is not just the absence of warfare. It is the whole soul prosperity of the Hebrew word shalom.

Continuing Struggle and Blessing - Mark 10:1-31

In this section of the Gospel Jesus displayed the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom while continuing to deal with opposition and misunderstanding.

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