Millstone - Mark 9:42

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 9:42-10:31

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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.

Region of Judea - Mark 10:1

Jesus moved on from Galilee to Judea, closer to his Messianic destiny in Jerusalem. The phrase beyond the Jordan indicated the portion of Judea that was on the opposite side of the river from Jerusalem. That area on the western bank was ruled by Herod Antipas.

They were trying to trap Jesus. - Mark 10:2

In 9:14-29 Jesus was forced to turn from training his disciples to face the opposition of Satan. Here the same thing happens again. This time the satanic opposition came from the Pharisees. They intended to test him. (See note on 8:11.) They were not seeking to learn anything. They were trying to trap Jesus. Their question is surprising because almost all Jews agreed that under certain circumstances divorce was permissible. (The debates were only about what those circumstances might be.) Most likely, since they were in the territory of Herod Antipas, their question on divorce was intended to lead Jesus into the same kind of answer that led to the death of John the Baptist (6:14-28).

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