Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“The Road to Greatness Is Covered With Salt”
If you google “how to be successful” you will get thousands of quotes form people telling you their way and idea of success. Here are a few quotes. Jesus tells us that if we want to be successful in this life, then we need to listen and follow Him. But his way to success and how he defines success if radically different than the world. This morning we will look at how to be successful according to Jesus.
The Arguing Evangelists (vv. 30-37)
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
“And he did not want anyone to know” – Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee is officially finished, and at this point he wants to focus on preparing and teaching the disciples. Jesus is preparing the disciples to carry on His mission of the way of salvation for humanity. Salvation of the world.
This is the second time Jesus introduces that He is going to die, and here when it says, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered” the idea of betrayal is added. The verb “is going to be betrayed,” is a betrayal that will happen in the future, but the verb usage also means it is happening right now. Jesus is telling them that right now, there is someone who is betraying Him, into the hands of men – which will lead to his death – but he will rise again in three days.
The last time they had discussed this topic, Jesus ended up calling Peter Satan, and telling him to get behind him (Mark 8:31,33).  So no one wants to be called Satan, and rebuked so no one asks Him anything.
33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
Jesus then asks them, what they were discussing along the way – it was not Jesus being delivered into the hands of men, who was betraying him, or His death, or even his eventual resurrection from the dead. Instead of discussing these things, “they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.” They had been disputing “the relative rank of each of them in the political kingdom which they were expecting him to establish.”
“The implication is that all of the twelve will be great, yet some will be “greater’ than others” and as the disciples conceived it as being filled with earthly glory and grandeur with Jesus as the earthly king.
“And he sat down and called the twelve.” – Jesus waits until he gets inside the house to deal with their issue of pride, envy, jealousy, and their unwillingness to expand the circle of the twelve – This is a formal way of sitting, where Jesus would have crossed his legs in front of him, and would have indicated that he was about to teach or pass on important instructions.
(v. 35) “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” This principle is so important that it is repeated again and again (Mark 10:31, 43-44, Matthew 23:8-11; Luke 22:24-27). There is a rule for greatness in the kingdom of God. There is an order, a ranking. Jesus does not even persuade people from seeking to be great in the kingdom.
Jesus has already defined service as Mark 8:34-35 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Therefore, to serve, or to be a servant is a denial of self, and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. The one who wishes to be the greatest, to lead the others, must be a servant of all and deny themselves.
(v. 36) “To illustrate the principle in v. 35, Jesus took a child, and stood him by his side, and as Jesus is talking hugs the child. “And he took a child and put him in the midst of them” “The child is set before the Twelve as an example of discipleship, . . .the disciples are to identify themselves with children and become “the little ones” who have no basis for pretension and greatness.” But also the child is an object of kind treatment, and when Jesus hugs the child, shows how all that the child represents should be treated.
“To welcome one of these little children means, in context, to treat honorably other disciples, taking the role of servant toward them. It’s all about how you treat the child.”
The Anonymous Exorcist (vv. 38-41)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
John changes the subject, (talking about service, let me tell you what we did) “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name” “So he told about a case of extra zeal on his part expecting praise from Jesus.”
“What irked the disciples was that, though he was not one of them, he was being successful at it!” While Mark is not given in a chronological order, this event does fall after Mark’s description of the disciples not being able to cast out a demon (Mark 9:18). They felt threatened as Jesus’ disciples (the inner 12), so they tried to shut down the other person’s work. They told him to stop and he didn’t.
A similar thing happened in Numbers 11:26-29 “Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.”
“The anonymous exorcist grasped that an essential dimension of Jesus’ ministry was the confrontation and defeat of Satan. The use of Jesus’ name (i.e. “I command you to come out in Jesus’ name!”) shows an awareness that it was Jesus who ordered the action, which is accomplished by his sovereign will. The fact that the demon left shows that the man was a believer.
(v. 38) Jesus’ response is to say, “Do not stop him” – Don’t slow him down, hinder him, etc. from serving in Jesus’ name. As the gospel begins to go forth, people begin to minister in Jesus’ name, and they may be better at it than you! God’s power was not limited just to the twelve. “For the one who is not against us is for us.”— This new believer is out there doing ministry in Jesus’ name.
The Examples of Atrocities (vv. 42-50)
Causing Others to Sin
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Whoever is a reference to a person causing another person to sin (by stopping them, or hindering them in their childlike faith of serving God). Skandalizo can mean to miss the mark, fall short, where we get the word sin from, but it can also mean to pull someone away from following another – which seems to be the context here. It means “causing someone to fall into unbelief, serious sin, or false teaching.”
“Here the designation “the little ones” is extended to other followers whose allegiance to Jesus is no less exemplified in their own spheres of labor (exorcism, hospitality) than is true of the Twelve.” The little ones were people who had just begin to put their faith in Jesus, “babes in the faith.”
(v. 42) “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin” The little ones is not a reference to the child Jesus has brought into the circle earlier. He is directly referencing the followers of Jesus who begin to try and minister in Jesus’ name. So, Jesus brings the discussion back to service – The apostles are called to serve, to continue the mission of Jesus when He is gone, but they must do it in humility, and holiness, and they should not hinder anyone else from serving as well.
And if you do stand in the way, and cause someone to stop serving, thereby sin, “it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”  This is very serious because by doing that, you have stopped their spiritual growth, and you have stopped any work they may have accomplished moving forward.
Things Causing You to Sin (Parts of Yourself)
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Then Jesus transitions into a teaching on things that would cause this sin (hand, foot, eye) – “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.” Both heaven and hell are described as actual places. Gehenna is regarded as a place “where” the damned are; and their torment goes on and on in a fire that is never quenched.
There is a link between the body part and the resulting sin done by that body part – and how that one body part effects the entire body. “The parts of the body mentioned here are really symbols for various types of activity, for example, the hand that grasps for things it should not, the foot that goes where it ought not, or the eye that desires what it ought not.” It is better to get rid of the foot, than for the entire body to be destroyed.
Both pulling a “little one” away from faithful service, and you allowing on part of sin to pull you away from God – Jesus is saying drastic action is requi Radical obedience is demanded. Whatever part of you that is not sold out to following Jesus needs to be done away with.
“The Valley of Hinnom had been desecrated by the sacrifice of children to Moloch so that as an accursed place it was used for the city garbage where worms gnawed and fires burned. It is thus a vivid picture of eternal punishment.”
(v. 48) Jesus quotes directly from Isaiah 66:24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” “The worm is internal, “the fire” is external, thus the entire suffering of the person.
(v. 49) “For everyone will be salted with fire” – “everyone must be salted somehow, either with the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, or with the fire of severe self-discipline.” Fire is painful, self-discipline is painful, you have to deny what your flesh desires.
Our entry into “the kingdom of God” or to Gehenna Hell – is a choice. We choose what we take off and put on. We choose what our priorities will be, we choose what we allow to control us. We choose who our God will be.
(v. 50) “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again?” – “Jesus is warning the disciples not to lose that characteristic in them that brings life to the world and prevents decay.” As a believer, we should stand out (like salt gives food a better taste). But, salt can lose its’ flavor. So too, a follower of Jesus can become so like the world, that there is no discernable difference, and thereby a worthless witness.
This is why our regular study and obedience to God’s Word is so important. If we are to be freed from the world’s corruption and influence, we must be preserved (like salt) by the Word, and refined (as by fire) by the Word of God.
“Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” – Instead of arguing with one another about how they are serving (casting out demons without your permission), focus on you adding flavor to the world (self-discipline and self-denial), and be at peace with other believers. Jesus also wants believers to “take extremely seriously their responsibility to avoid acts that would drive away other disciples from the circle of discipleship.”
 Mark 8:31 “Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1932) 345.
 “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” George Orwell, Animal Farm.
 R. C. H. Lenski, The interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, Minnesota; Augsburg Publishing, 1964) 390.
 Lenski, 391.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974) 341.
 Alexander Balmain Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM B Eerdsman Co., 1967) 405.
 Bruce, 153.
 “It is striking, however, that after each of the three major prophecies of the passion the evangelist inserts the response of one of the three disciples who were closest to Jesus; Peter (Mk. 8:32f.), John (Mk. 9:38), and James, with John (Mk. 10:35-37). Mark shows in this way that even the most privileged of the disciples failed to understand what the passion signified for their life and mission.” Lane, 342.
 This is the only time Mark mentions John alone.
 Robertson, 346.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 707.
 Lane, 343. See Also, Acts 19:13-16.
 Bruce, 156.
 Lane, 345.
 Click the link for further discussion on the Didache and the apostles desire to control “authenticity of faith and consistency in practice” https://drewboswell.com/determining-curriculum-part-one/
 Acts 5:37 speaks of a rebellion against the Romans in Galilee under the leadership of a Zealot named Judas the Galilean. A punishment for some of the rebellion’s leadership was a millstone tied around their neck and being cast into the sea. Lane 346. Jesus’ disciples would have been familiar with this historical event.
 vv. 44 and 46 are not included – The oldest and best manuscripts do not give these two verses.
 Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
 Larry W. Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers, 2001) 156.
 Jer. 2:23; 7:31, 32; II Chron. 28:3; 33:6, II Kings 23:10
 Bruce, 407.
 Gaebelein, 709.
 Hurtado, 156.