Last Sunday during worship here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we were thinking about the question “Who's the Greatest?” Our sermon can be found here. This week we are asking “Who's in Charge?”
In Mark 9:38-50 the disciple John comes upon a group of religious people doing the work of God. He has never come across them or heard of them before. He overhears them praying, and they are using the words; “In Jesus name.” This makes him mad.
Who did they think they were? He was the disciple! What right did they have to be doing disciple stuff? How dare they use the name of Jesus to work miracles, when they hadn't been through the kind of training he had been through! Preposterous!
1. Today we’d probably call John’s problem a control issue. Somebody was in his space, operating in his personal domain and he did not like it. Maybe we can identify areas or issues in our own experience where we feel threatened because we feel that the particular area is all about us. Jesus suggests to John that it is never all about us. That it’s all about God and God’s purposes being done.
2. This passage also gives us what critics suggest, are some of the harshest words ever spoken by Jesus. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” Plainly this is not a passage to be interpreted literally! A less dramatic way of interpreting these verses, about cutting off hands and gouging out eyes, would be to say; “If something is damaging your life, cut it out!” As I will suggest in our sermon this coming Sunday, Jesus is here saying, ‘John, if you want to control something, then work on controlling your self!”
3. The passage closes with a call for Christians to ‘Have salt in themselves, and be at peace with one another.’ Salt back then was used for seasoning and preservation. When a person has a sense of their own worth before God and a desire to live in the will of God they exert a positive influence on those around them. They are not afraid to seek peace. They look for the image of God in others. That's how the Kingdom grows and changes the world. It's the little grains, the little things we do, that make a huge difference. Who's in charge? Sometimes we just have to let go and “Let God.”
Prayer: “Lord we all have control issues. Help us to realize that it’s not all about us and allow You greater room to move in and through our lives. Where we are involved in practices that may be damaging to ourselves or others, help us to take Your advice and ‘cut it out. Teach us what it means to be ‘salt’ in our world and live at peace with one another. Amen.”
For some music Stuart Townend and Keith Getty offer a song called “Jesus is Lord.” (Which includes some tasty lead guitar... never a bad thing in my book!) This little blog will be taking a couple of weeks break as I'm taking some study time away from home. But I shall return! God Bless.
The Reverend Adrian J Pratt B.D.