Mark: Beware of Causing People to Stumble; Be Salty

Read: Mark 9:42-50

Jesus is pretty clear in teaching here:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. Mark 9:42

Not just any millstone, but a large millstone to ensure you’re not escaping death. To be sure we get the point, Jesus includes hand, foot and eye to demonstrate that it’s better to live physically crippled on earth than miss out on heaven.

I imagine this was a portion of Jesus’s sermons that people heard often, and I suspect this is where those who were following as mere fans in the crowd excused themselves.

The teaching is rough and raw, real and strong. You will die a death beyond comprehension for tripping someone who is on their way to salvation. Beware.

We prepared and serve 120 meals at The LOT Project last night, those who live below the margin in our society. David told me he was doing great because this week they got the water turned on in the house he shares with four other guys. He was excited to think they might even get electricity in a few weeks. Matthew enjoyed his Biltmore inspired turkey dinner, savoring each bite. When I asked him if he wanted seconds, he smiled and said, “no way, I’m stuffed!”

I don’t know where they are on their spiritual journey, but Jesus is clear, we are to love on these people and invite them wholeheartedly into the presence of God. More than a meal or short conversation, but that’s a start. I’m so grateful for the large contingent of volunteers that showed up last night and pray their hearts were moved.

The Least of These (LOT) are easy to identify from the social status society imposes on them. Actually, they are some of the most humble people you’ll ever meet. All pretense and pride long gone, they line up for a meal and a few hours to get out of the elements. Some have done well, most just come and go. It is a privilege to serve in a small way.

The challenge is finding the Least of These spiritually, the “little ones” who are doing well financially, the ones who quickly offer their posh business card with titles and distinctive accomplishments meant to impress. Inviting them to the table is more complicated, but required just the same. Causing them to stumble may not seem so easy, but if we choose to disengage, it is likely they will never hear the gospel.

They physical examples Jesus uses here reminds us that hands, feet and eyes are temporary. Matters of eternity are at stake. No pressure, right?


I don’t think much about salt these days, in fact, I limit salt in my diet for concerns about health. Salt in the days of Jesus’s time on earth was much more important than our modern desire for enhancing taste buds, it was used for purification, for eliminating harmful germs and purifying meat and making vegetables more distinctive.

Everyone will be salted with fire. Mark 9:49

Those who heard this message first were surely aware of the Levitical requirement to salt everything offered as a sacrifice (Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24), but what does this mean? Did Jesus pause here and let this phrase sink in? We quickly read verse 49 and move to 50, but I like to think this stands on its own, tucked in neatly between two thoughts: tripping unbelievers and the demand to stay salty.

Work with me here. We will be tested and these tests will be the difference between bland, checklist checking Christians and salty seasoned leaders that endure difficulties and are better for passing the tests and trials.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50

Salt is unique. Distinctive. So we should be also. Go and be salty.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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