Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Difficult Passage Mark 9:42-49

 I am continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom, taking a look today at Mark 9:42-50 (NIV). If you haven't been following this series, I'd suggest following this link for some of the better posts of the series.

42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 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 into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, 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 sin, 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
“‘their worm does not die,
    and the fire is not quenched.’
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.


This is a difficult passage. It raises more questions than answers for me.
  • Verse 43 - 47. Has my hand, foot, or eyes ever been involved in sin?  Wouldn't everybody be guilty of these? I hope Jesus is not really encouraging us to do physical harm to ourselves.  I sort of get the point. Let's be serious about sin. But really? I find it difficult to understanding a teaching that sounds like self mutilation or self-harm.  I wonder if I am missing something.
  • Verses 43 - 47. The term behind 'hell' in these verses is Gehenna, which was a valley outside the walls of Jerusalem that was a burning garbage dump and was a place where some children were sacrificed to other gods by fire.  Was Jesus talking about the Gehenna that they knew, or was he also talking about another type of Gehenna?  There had also been other views on Gehenna related to the underworld, Jesus doesn't really work at defining what he is referring to here.
  • Verse 48 is a reference to Isaiah 66:24. Note that the dead bodies do not fit well with the traditional view of hell. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
  • Verse 49. Is this a reference to something like purgatory?  Everyone? I thought only the wicked had to worry about some fire in the afterlife.
So I apologize. As I work through a secrets of the kingdom series, I think I have gained some valuable insights related to the kingdom of God.  But this passage joins with some others that are still a mystery to me.

Feel free to share some light on the matter.

4 comments:

Frank Prescott said...

In the book, The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, p67, he addresses this. I just happen to be re-reading the book at this time. The essence of what he says is that mutilating yourself to prevent the doing does not change the heart. It is not an external thing but internal.

Just a quick thought on this.

Steve Martin said...

Jesus spoke of hell, many times. I do believe it is real.

We ought not ignore the reality of which the Bible speaks, but our message is one of love and forgiveness, and healing and wholeness.

This gospel Word creates faith in people. I believe that should be our focus.

Thanks, Jon.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Frank. I appreciate some feedback. I'm not sure if that is what Jesus was saying here. But sounds good to me. Thanks. :)

Jonathan said...

Steve Martin,
Jesus spoke of Gehenna many times. There was a physical location nearby with this name. There were also different beliefs surrounding Gehenna. It is difficult to understand what Jesus was really talking about. Was Jesus talking about the Gehenna that they knew, or was he also talking about another type of Gehenna?

It can make for an interesting study. But I agree our message should be about love, hope, healing and forgiveness. The good news of Jesus as Lord.