Lenten Reflection - Mark 9:42-50 by Eric Bumgardner
42 “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.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. 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.’ 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
Notorious libertine Oscar Wilde stated the only way to get rid of temptation was to yield to it. “I can resist everything but temptation.”
In my reading of this passage, Jesus (again?) reveals his “fully God, fully man” duality to me; seeming to understand temptation, and its consequent “stumbling,” as only one who is fully man can. His stern gaze is cast on we predators who search for others on which we can exert our control by catering to their insecurities with money, sex, prestige, etc. He gives fair warning to the Wilde in us to part ways with those things or people we most value, but in reality separate us from the reality of God.
Finally, I read (maybe) what I’m most looking for: clear direction; as He’s already demanded more than I can do alone. Jesus asks me to “have salt among us,” and surround myself with preserving individuals — friends — in whose shadow I can walk, in whose path I can follow.
If I’m honest, I don’t want to be led. Their path doesn’t look like it leads anywhere fun. Even the words of Jesus, through voices of people who care about me deeply, don’t have any sway. Only repeated stumbling can convince me of the depth and weight of the words.
Today I’ve been given the opportunity to live “out loud” among the salt, and share my temptations and fears instead of stepping into the ring alone. But alone — in silence — is where I have to meet them.
In a season set aside for self-examination, it doesn’t seem to get any more Lent than this.