Success and Salt {Mark 9}

9:50 AM

Salt of the World

By Lisa Thayer

Isn’t it great to succeed? Getting on top of it all is such a wonderful accomplishment. Natural giftedness is a fantastic achievement. In Mark 9, we will see a stark contrast between how society views greatness and how Jesus views greatness. I bet we’ve all had those moments of seeing things from God’s standpoint – up high. He has led us to that great achievement and we just want to stay up there. High and lifted up.

Peter, James and John actually get this glimpse of God’s glory – all His glory. But what happens… they descend that mountain and walk smack dab into the reality of our sin filled world and our lack of faith. Jesus tells Peter, James and John not to tell anyone what they witnessed until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (v. 9)

Again, with all the disciples present, Jesus tells them a 2nd time about His death and resurrection (vs. 30-31). The first was in 8:31. It’s so difficult to understand why something we don’t like is happening. As we read this gospel story again, we struggle with understanding the disciple’s lack of faith. We don’t seem to understand why they have to hear and see things several times to understand. But isn’t that us? We go to church and participate in bible studies, I mean after all, we do have the complete bible right in front of us, and yet we don’t understand the first time around. Our eyes are opened in God’s timing.

The next encounter we read is this argument the disciples are having among themselves about who is the greatest. We don’t read it here in Mark, but in Luke 9 it says, “Jesus knew the reasoning of their hearts.” He knew, but wanted them to admit what it was they were arguing about.

“Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” Proverbs 22:2
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 3:14-16; 4:1-2
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples it was wrong to want to be great. The problem was they had a distorted concept of what made somebody great. And so Jesus answers their question.
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in sprit gain honor.” Proverbs 29:23

“The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns of aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must be aware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.

After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are where it is neither beautiful nor poetic nor thrilling. The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mount, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him. Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the mount, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mount into the valley, the place where the meaning of the vision is explained.” Oswald Chambers.

The last line of this chapter is “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, be at peace with each other.” v. 50

I just love this line because salt is a preservative. When salt is rubbed into meat, its purpose is to slow down the decay. As a disciple we are to act as a preservative to this world, especially to those entrusted to our care, such as our loved ones. We keep things fresh and alive. We help to defeat corruption and decay. We add purity where behavior is questionable. As Christians we can retain Kingdom virtues, hold onto what we know is true according to Scripture, and cling to what is right.
As Christians, we offer encouragement, hope, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and love. And just like salt adds flavor, it enhances whatever it touches, we as believers bring flavor to life. We sprinkle life with the seasoning of Christ’s presence radiating in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus warns us to not lose those characteristic and qualities within us that bring life to this world, that prevents decay. When we lose our Christian values, our teaching, or morals, our ethics, our character, our integrity, and so on – we are worthless to the world. It is then that we do not serve God’s purpose for us, we become tasteless and unsalty and cannot perform our intended function. Christ challenges us to be the salt of the earth. Don’t think that your life doesn’t count. Through the Holy Spirit living in us, we are the preservers, the ones used to make others thirst after righteousness. And sometimes there isn’t enough salty flavor, so we add more. It may take more than one shake to season those around us.

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