No. 03. "How Do You Re-Salt the Salt?"

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Bothwell & Clachan

October 1, 2006

Mark 9:38-50

Message Series (A) - JESUS' CURIOUS QUESTIONS FOR CONFUSED FOLLOWERS: Message No. 3. - "How Do You Re-Salt the Salt?" Mark 9:50


Results Get Rewarded

A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates.

Ahead of him is a guy dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans.

Saint Peter says to this guy, "Who are you, so that I may know whether to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"

The guy replies, "I'm Joe Cohen, taxi driver, of Noo Yawk City."

Saint Peter consults his list. He smiles and says to the taxi driver, "Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

The taxi driver goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it's the minister's turn.

He stands erect and booms out, "I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Saint Mary's for the last 43 years."

Saint Peter consults his list. He says to the minister, "Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

"Just a minute!" says the minister. "That man was a taxi driver, and he gets a silken robe and golden staff. How can this be?"

"Up here, we work by results," says Saint Peter. "While you preached, people slept. While he drove, people prayed."

-- Ed Rowell, Franklin, Tennessee; heard from a friend

Consider some paradoxes of the Christian life we have seen over the last couple of weeks in Mark 9.

  • Glory out of suffering (Mk 9:1-13). Mount of Transfiguration
  • Victory out of defeat FAITH LEADS TO POWER(Mk 9:14-29).
  • LAST WEEK WE SAW THAT Greatness out of service SERVICE LEADS TO HONOUR(Mk 9:30-41).

(Wiersbe) The three lessons Jesus taught in this section are still basic to Christian living today.

TODAY - Gain out of loss (Mk 9:42-50).

If you pamper sin in your life, you will lose your "salty" character and not be able to affect others for Christ. In a series of strong statements, Jesus emphasized how terrible sin is. Deal drastically with sin as a surgeon does with a cancerous tumor. The imagery of cutting off the hand that causes sin, etc., is not meant literally but instead emphasizes the necessity of a decisive rejection of sin. You gain by losing. - With the Word

Most of us would agree that these are These are strange statements.

BUT: (Andrew Greeley on Domesticating Jesus): If Jesus makes you feel comfortable with your agenda, then he's not Jesus.... Once you domesticate Jesus, he isn't there any more.

Andrew Greeley, "There's No Solving Mystery of Christ," Chicago Sun-Times (1-16-04)

So to break through to his disciples again, Jesus asks : "How Do You Re-Salt the Salt?"

ONE: Cultural Background "Salt is Good"

  • (Tyndale) Some background on "salt" (Mk 9:50) is helpful. Salt played an important role in the ancient world. It was necessary to life in Palestine, and had commercial value. Salt was used as a preservative for meats and as a means of payment. The soldier who was "not worth his salt" had not earned his "salary" (a word derived from the Latin word for "salt"). Its wholesome antiseptic properties are still universally recognized. The main source of salt in Palestine was from the area southwest of the Dead (Salt) Sea. Bible Knowledge.
  • Pulpit Comm. (Mk 9:50) Not surprising that Jesus says: Salt is good; that is, it is useful and beneficial. This is true of the literal salt.

But our Lord has before his mind in this whole passage the spiritual meaning. Zondervan

  • Believers. On another occassion Jesus said that Christians are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). God expects us to exert a healthful, purifying influence. As long as we fulfill their discipleship, we are to be a source of spiritual a blessing to.

Is Anyone Thirsty Yet?

At a meeting some young people were discussing the text, "Ye are the salt of the earth." One suggestion after another was made as to the meaning of "salt" in this verse.

"Salt imparts a desirable flavor," said one.

"Salt preserves from decay," another suggested.

Then a Chinese Christian girl spoke out of an experience none of the others had. "Salt creates thirst," she said, and there was a sudden hush in the room. Everyone was thinking: Have I ever made anyone thirsty for the Lord Jesus Christ?

TWO: "But if the salt loses its flavor, how can you make it salty again?"

Our salt today is purified and does not lose its taste; but the salt of that day contained impurities and could lose its flavor, could lose its saltiness. This coarse, impure salt from the inland sea deposits of this area was susceptible to deterioration, leaving savourless salt-like crystals as residue, and especially what was gathered from the Dead Sea in Palestine, contained many impurities. If (cf. v. 43) it loses its saltiness, its savory quality, it cannot be regained so such salt is worthless. ; What was used as salt in ancient times, however was sometimes diluted by the addition of white sand, which made it "unsalty." Such salt was cast on the roadbeds to inhibit the growth of weeds. it is a saltlessness nothing can season and it is of no use to season anything else. It is like an exploded shell, a burnt-out crater, a spent force. This is a warning for all Christians.

  • New American. Mk 9:50. Christians, can and sometimes do cease to function as the "salt" of the world, and it is against this that Jesus warned.
  • Robertson's Word Pictures: Mark 9:50. If the true salt were removed, what remained might still look like salt but could not perform the life-giving and life-saving function of salt. A person may have the external appearance of a disciple, but not the internal properties.

He cautioned them, against losing that which they had received from Him.

We should counteract the moral decay in society, just as salt preserves food from decay. When we lose this desire to "salt" the earth with the love and message of God, we become useless to him. If the disciple does not live in harmony with Jesus and with others, but sins or causes others to sin, the disciple will be worthless as salt, and unable to fulfill his or her function. A Christian who is not carrying out his duties as a true disciple is barren and ineffective. It is not enough to make a good start in the Christian life. Unless there is constant and radical self-judgment, the child of God is failing to achieve the purpose for which God saved him.

The Purpose of Salt

In The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Timothy Keller makes the following observation about salt:

The job of salt was to make something taste good. I don't know about you, but I can't stand corn on the cob without salt on it. When I have eaten a piece of corn on the cob that I really like, I put it down, and what do I say? "That was great salt." No, I say, "That was great corn on the cob." Why? Because the job of the salt is not to make you think how great the salt is, but how great the thing is with which it's involved.

Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky; source: Timothy Keller, The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Volume 19, Winter 2001)

THREE: "Have salt in yourselves"

points to the disciples' need to "have salt" which is good (not worthless) within themselves continually. IVP background. Once you have lost that precious Christian character, how will you restore it?

Mk 9:50. That real salt by definition does not lose its saltiness only reinforces the strength of the image (cf. comment on Mt 5:13).

Here "salt" depicts what distinguishes a disciple from a non-disciple (cf. Matt. 5:13; Luke 14:34). A disciple is to maintain his allegiance to Jesus at all costs and to purge out destructive influences (cf. Mark (9:43-48).

  • (Zondervan) (vs. 50). Jesus was warning his disciples not to lose that characteristic in them that brought life to the world and prevented its decay, that is, not to lose their spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice (cf. v.49) to Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
  • (New American) Mk 9:50, "Have salt in yourselves" has been variously interpreted to refer to being willing to be sacrificed, common sense (cf. Col 4:6), loving neighbors, wisdom, fellowship and friendship, and being at peace. Probably the idea is simply to give life and preservation to the world.

This miscellaneous collection of the sayings of Jesus on discipleship began with a dispute (Mk 9:33-34)

  • (Believers) Be a power for God in the world. Exert a beneficial influence for the glory of Christ. Be intolerant of anything in your life that might lessen your effectiveness for Him.
  • (New Inter Bible Comm) what they would need for this purpose would be to have in themselves 'salt', i.e. love for their neighbours, and a readiness to serve them, and make sacrifices for their sakes.

Random Acts of Kindness

Re'na Garcia is a 24-year-old wife and mother of two preschoolers and a full-time nanny for two other children. She leads a busy life, but her favorite part of the day is when she goes out to RAOK somebody's world-as in performing "Random Acts of Kindness."

She and her husband, Aaron, are part of a growing network of Christians who seek to anonymously bless other people in the name of Jesus. They have even started a website to help share ideas, Some of those ideas include:

• Leaving a roll of quarters at the laundromat

• Paying for the person behind you at a drive-thru

• Leaving grocery gift cards in mailboxes

• Paying rent for a family in need

• Handing out water or sports drinks on a biking trail.

Garcia also hands out a RAOK business card that explains her motivation, information about her church, and that there are no strings attached. "People were drawn to Christ not because he stood on a mountain and preached," she says, "but because he filled their needs."

John W. Kennedy, "Winning Them with Kindness," Today's Christian (Nov/Dec 2005), p. 10–11

FOUR: "Be at Peace With Each Other"

  • (New American) 9:50 This miscellaneous collection of the sayings of Jesus' explanation of servanthood or discipleship began with a dispute provoked by the disciples' strife where they had argued over which of them was the greatest. (vv. 33-34) and it concludes with an admonition to be at peace with one another.
  • (Zondervan) 50 Jesus' disciples could only be at peace with one another where that kind of devotion instead of self-interest prevailed (cf. v.34)

In essence Jesus said, "Be loyal to Me and then you will be able to maintain peace with one another instead of arguing about status" (cf. Rom. 12:16a; 14:19).

  • (Pradis). Strife is resolved and peace restored when we recognize in one another a common commitment to Jesus and the gospel.
  • (Believers) "And have peace with one another." This apparently refers back to verses 33 and 34, Pride must be put away and replaced by humble service for all.

Mark 9:50 We should make a difference in the "flavor" of the world we live in, just as salt changes meat's flavor (see Matthew 5:13).

  • (Bible Exposition) Commitment and character are the essentials, if we are to glorify Him and have peace with each other.
  • (Harpers) ... Disciples who bicker about power, rather than lead sacrificial lives, will lose their effectiveness (they will be like salt losing its saltiness). Rather they are to live in peace. (and in outreach to others).
  • Teachers: Harmony (Mark 9:42-50). How, then, does Jesus instruct His followers to live as disciples? They, and we, are to live a life of prayer and of servanthood in a way that promotes harmony by personally rejecting temptations to sin, and being careful not to cause brothers and sisters to sin either.


What can you do this week to make your witness for Christ clearer to the unbelievers around you?

Quote: Francis of Assisi wrote:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace,

Where there is hatred, may I bring love,

Where there is malice, pardon

Where there is discord, harmony

Where there is error, truth

Where three is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, Your light

Where there is sadness may I bring joy.

Oh, Master, may I seek not so much

To be comforted as to comfort

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving our lives that we shall find them,

It is in forgiving that we shall be forgiven

It is in dying that we shall rise up to eternal life

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