Hell & Pride

Mark 9:31-32  …He said to them,“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

Why were the disciples afraid to ask Jesus about it? Were they concerned that they would ‘lose face’ if they revealed themselves as not being able to understand what Jesus said?

 

9:33-34 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Again, the disciples do not appear to be humble. Instead, they cared about who is the most outstanding disciple of Jesus and worthy of His favour. However, does it really matter who is the most outstanding? Jesus loves us all equally, no matter how ‘useful’ or ‘useless’ we think of ourselves or by others.

 

Jesus tells the disciples in 9:50 “…be at peace with each other”

9:2-4 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

For Peter, James and John, it must have been a great privilege to be one of the chosen ones to witness such an indescribable scene unfolding before their eyes. While they had a greater spiritual experience than the other Nine, they were also at risk of greater spiritual pride. What about the other Nine? They could also develop jealousy for the three disciples and also feelings of injustice of not being chosen.

 

9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

This can be a sign of superiority – the disciples see themselves as ‘worthy’ of performing miracles in the name of Jesus while non-disciples are ‘not worthy’. But the next verse tells us this is certainly not true –

9:39-41 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

 

9:35 [Jesus said] “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Jesus did not just preach it, he also practices what he preaches. He washed his disciples’ feet – a practice a servant would perform, even though he is the Son of Man and the King of the Jews. (In the time Jesus was on earth, the roads are very dirty while people travel without any footwear). On the other hand, people who aim to be the best may end up resorting to unscrupulous means, trampling over others, ironically resulting in being the last/worst.

 

9:36-37 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,“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.”

Why a little child? They represent humility (for they intrinsically do not want to be the first/best); they are obedient to their parents; they represent the weakest/most vulnerable group of people. So people who ‘welcome the little children’ are those who welcome people who have the aforementioned traits, they value the traits these people have and they do not take advantage of these groups of people.

 

9:42 “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.

This shows how seriously God views people who cause the weak/new in the faith to misunderstand the Word of God or do things against God’s will. Even for non-Christians who think our beliefs are outdated (e.g. stand against homosexuality) and we may twist the Word for it to be more palatable to them. Yet, we may cause them to stumble instead.

 

9:43-47 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.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.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…

This is the extent of God’s zero tolerance for sin – for they are absolutely cannot co-existent. God wants us to rid our lives of sin, through His grace and mercy.

 

9: 48where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
    and the fire is not quenched.’

(Reference to Isaiah 66:24)

Biblical scholars have discussed what the ‘worm’ refers to. Many believe that it refers to the conscience in each and every one of us.

Judas Iscariot had killed himself because he could not handle the guilt of betraying Jesus.

 

Notice that Jesus mentions hell more than anyone else in the Bible! But Jesus’ preaching of hell is not intended to instill fear, but to spread the message of love:

 

No single human being has been, or is able to go to heaven of his or her own merit – due to the generation curse brought down from Adam and Eve, it is every human being’s intrinsic trait to sin.

Because God is so holy, no uncleanness can go near God.

Even the most ‘perfect’ of non-Christians cannot go to heaven because they are not salted by the salt of covenant of God.

However, God has already stressed the importance of salt to be presented as offerings to Him and hence, as our spirits are presented to God in heaven, it must be salted. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that we may enter heaven by leaving our sins at the cross at which Jesus died as a lamb of offering for us.

 

 

Our lives are salted by maintaining the purity of our lives.

Hence, even though God’s grace is unlimited, we as Christians do not take advantage of God’s grace and engage in ungodly ways.

 

 

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