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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 9:49-50 bible study (May 14, 2024)

May 14, 2024:  Tuesday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark 9:49-50

Blessings and Peace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

At church we are entering into the season of Pentecost and the Sundays after Pentecost. Its name comes from the fact that it is always 70 days after Easter. The Sunday after Pentecost will be celebrated as Holy Trinity Sunday. And we will celebrate our high school graduates on this Sunday the 19 with a lunch and cake reception for Josiah, Jesse, and Armando.  Please plan to stay for lunch with us after church. (11:15AM).

Today we are going to deal with one of the most difficult passages in Mark 9. It is only two verses long, but its word usage, and the fact that according to Mark this is the direct word of Christ to His disciples, make comprehending this even more difficult. So, let's begin.  This word salt. What does it mean in the context of what we have heard before it? Commentators have worked to come up with something that will stick in our mind. just like the phrases from Christ about Salt, Saltiness, loss of Saltiness. This word has a variety of meanings in the setting in which it is shared.

What we have in these two verses in Mark 9 are three different sayings. The first is that everyone must be salted by fire. According to Jewish law for sacrifices offered at the temple, the law says that they must be salted if they are going to be found OK by God. The salt used for this process of getting a sacrifice ready was called the salt of the covenant. This saying then means that every Christian must be treated with fire if they are to be acceptable to God. In other words, every Christian must be purified to be acceptable to God. This kind of sounds like there is a way to earn one's salvation, doesn't it? Remember that our purification comes through our Baptisms and our participation in Holy Communion. It is only in Jesus Christ, His life, His sacrifice, and His death and Resurrection that we can be purified and acceptable to God. That happens through the Spirit's yes which we experience as faith in God's only begotten son. And maintaining that faith in the face of all of life's "fires" makes us acceptable too. It is all possible because of the Spirit's guiding presence. In Christ's time, that fire would probably have been during times of deep persecution of believers.  These difficult times of our faith being challenged, when we keep our faith in place through the Spirit's presence, are treasures to God.

This next piece, Salt is good, but if it loses it saltiness with what will you season it? is an even more difficult saying to understand. Thinking of salt, we see that it has two primary virtues.  First, salt lends flavor to things, and second, salt is a preservative. In Christ's time the world of "men" was bored with the world, looking for some thrill in the world of their lives. Second, the world was a place of corruption. In the face of all of this Jesus was telling His disciples that indeed they had what exactly the world needed. The same is still true for us today, we are called to bear this very same news into a weary world, where going to war, or bigotry and hatred become the only thing that give us opportunity for living with excitement. But the Great Good News that Christ brings to us all, is that the new life in Christ is filled with those exciting healing and life changing feelings. No wonder Easter Sunday is so filled with joy and happiness as we say to each other “Christ is Risen" and others respond, "He is risen indeed!"

Have Salt in yourselves and live in peace with one another. Be pure through Christ's love for your life. Journey away from bitterness, anger, selfishness, self-centeredness, then, and only then, will you be able to live in harmony with all people. Always fill your life with Christ!

Next Monday we go on into chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark.

With love in Christ, Pastor Kim

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