Gospel of Mark | Stumbling | Mark 9.42-50 | movementministriesblog.com

by | Apr 3, 2024

““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. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [b] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[46] [c] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’[d] 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “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 9.42-50

What does it mean to stumble? When I hear the word stumble I think of those videos of people in a race who are about to cross the finish line and win the race but at the very last step they stumble and lose. All that work and effort to train is lost with only feet, or inches to go. And they fall unceremoniously on their faces!

Jesus is speaking here not only about causing “little ones” (children or those young in the faith) to stumble, or fall away from the faith, but also about becoming a detriment to ourselves. We know Jesus is speaking about children because only a few verses prior we read this — “36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Jesus physically had a child or children in his arms when he offered this teaching. Jesus was the master of using object lessons to communicate spiritual truths.

But he’s talking about protecting and caring for the innocent. It is our responsibility to care for those who are vulnerable and at risk both physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is not a surprise that it’s Christians who opened the first schools, hospitals and clinics to care for the needs of people. Christ is telling us, at the risk of us losing our own souls to hell — to not cause the innocent to stumble and to be salt among the whole of humanity.

The benefits of salt are many – it adds flavor, it preserves and has its own health benefits. Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth. By not causing the innocent to stumble, we are being salt and light. We have been given the ability by the power of the Holy Spirit to be a witness to the world for the glory of God. Christ’s light shines in us and our striving for obedience must not end.

Each day can be a battle. We are in a spiritual race to remain faithful and to give God glory through our lives. May the light of Christ fill us that we would not cause others to stumble but help them grow into the likeness of our Lord.

“O Lord God, you are good. Easter has formally passed but the signs of the resurrection abound. You have brought us out of darkness and into your wonderful light. Come now, Holy Spirit, fall on us. Help us be your hands and feet in this world in need of love. Use us as your instruments so we might bring you glory. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen