Mark 9:42-50 Reading the Bible Literally
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Many read this passage and concludes that the Bible doesn’t make any sense. The reason may come to that conclusion is because they thought that reading the Bible is descriptive all the time. It would be unwise for a reader to look at the Scripture and make his own interpretations about it without asking the original intent of an author.
As I was going through the book of Mark, I had to slowly read and research many verses that I have encountered along the way. There are generally two ways in reading the Bible –
DESCRIPTIVE AND PRESCRIPTIVE.
Descriptive is describing what happened in the passage. Many text in the Bible like this one is illustrating a point and not telling us literally that we should cut off our hands or gouge our eyes out. The author was establishing a point that we need to value kids and pass on the faith to the next generation. It should be read prescriptively. Get the heart of the text.
As I was going through verse 42, I saw the heart of God when it comes to reaching out to the next generation. Our role is to prepare the way for them and not become a stumbling block for future generations to follow Jesus.
Verse 43-48 describes the reality of hell and how God wants to spare us from eternal judgment. What is wonderful about the verses mentioned is that by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit, He has given us a way out of this. That is what is missing when we read a text on its own and not read the Scripture. We get a lot of things out of context.
For a more in-depth introductory study of how some people are trying to remove the literal hell that is mentioned in Scripture, I recommend you read Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell.
What I took from the reading today is that God sees our sin as a big deal to provoke Jesus to teach the verses mentioned above. Sin destroys us and eats us up. But ultimately, sin destroys our purpose as citizens of God’s kingdom to be the salt of the earth.
When we get entangled in the affairs of the world, we can not do the work that God requires of us. God’s work requires full attention and fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Lord, remove the sins and idols in my heart that might entangle me and defocus me from doing your work. I pray that sin won’t have its way. Lord have your way in me. In Jesus name.