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The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series B

Option #1: "The Little Things are the Big Things"
Mark 9:41-48
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.D., M.Div.

 I. "Little" acts of kindness are given as to Christ himself--v41, Matt 25:40

II. Some sins look "little" but they are dangerous--v42ff, Gal 5:24-25, Rom 14:13ff, 1 Cor 8:10-13

    A. Causing someone to sin--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: for skandalizo˘, skandalon, translated in the King James Version, "offend," "offence," the Revised Version (British and American) gives "cause to stumble," "stumbling-block," etc.; thus, Mt 5:29, "if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble," i.e., "is an occasion for thy falling into sin"; Mt 16:23, "Thou art a stumbling-block unto me," an occasion of turning aside from the right path; in Mt 26:31, 33 twice, "offended" is retained, margin, 26:33 twice, "caused to stumble" (same word in 26:31); Mk 9:42, "whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble," to fall away from the faith, or fall into sin; Lk 17:1

    B. Your hand, your foot, your eyes can cause the loss of your immortal soul

        Definitions are from Thayer's Greek Definitions unless otherwise indicated:

            Pote˘rion: 1) a cup, a drinking vessel; 2) metaphorically, one’s lot or experience, whether joyous or adverse; divine appointments, whether favourable or unfavourable, are likened to a cup which God presents one to drink: so of prosperity and adversity

            Potizo˘: 1) to give to drink, to furnish drink; 2) to water, irrigate (plants, fields etc.); 3) metaphorically, to imbue, saturate one’s mind

            Geenna: 1) Hell is the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire." This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.

            Monophthalmos: 1) deprived of one eye, having one eye;

            Skandalizo˘: 1) to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall; metaphorically, to offend; 1a) to entice to sin; 1b) to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey

Richard Lenski writes about this "hard saying" of Jesus: skandalizoo always denotes spiritual destruction, as an animal is caught by touching the bait affixed to the crooked stick in a trap. The sense is "Whoever destroys a child or a child-like believer spiritually incurs the greatest wrath of Jesus."

Let no one deceive himself by thinking that only one of the "little ones" is destroyed or hurt, only a child or a humble believer. Jesus has indicated how precious they are in his sight, for what is done for them is as if it were done to himself (v37). This is a word that should awaken all of us, parents, pastors, teachers, and all who hold positions of influence. (Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel, p400)

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Children's Message on Mark 9:42

Visual aids: one or two pictures of a mouse; a mousetrap, preferably a larger one, so that the children can see the "skandalon," the trigger of the trap.

"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."

This is one of Jesus’ "hard sayings." He says many things that comfort us, but this one frightens us. It’s for the big people in your life--your parents, your teachers, your pastor--anyone who could set an example for you to follow.

He says that if we say or do something to cause you to sin, it would be better if we thrown into the sea with a big rock around our neck, rather than be able to do that over and over again. Jesus says these things because sin can get us in a lot of trouble--not just in this life, but forever, if it leads us away from Him as our Savior. Sin can get me in a lot of trouble all by itself, but if I cause you to sin it’s a whole lot worse.

(Show picture) Whose pictures do we see here? These mice look a little different than the mice in your house, but you get the idea. (Show trap) What is this? Do you know how it works? You put a piece of cheese or peanut butter on the bait place here, then you fold this back and set the trap. When the mouse takes the bait, he gets a bad pain in the neck when the trap comes down on him.

Sin is like the bait on the trap. It looks good, it smells good, it tastes good, but you risk everything to get it. When one of the older people in your life sin, they don’t know it, but they are setting a trap for you. If they swear around you, it makes God’s name cheap. If they lie, you might think it’s alright to lie. If they think other things are more important than hearing God’s Word, you are tempted to believe that you can get along without it.

Here’s what I want you to remember about this: 1) The big people in your life are sinful and they will sin where you can see or hear them. 2) While you maybe can’t avoid seeing or hearing their sin, you don’t have to take the bait off of the trap and get yourself in trouble.

Jesus died for us not only so that we could be forgiven of our sins but also so that sin would no longer have power over us. So you don’t have to sin because you see someone else sin. Jesus gave us His Holy Spirit to help us avoid sin. You wouldn’t want to be a mouse caught in the trap. You don’t want to get caught in sin’s trap either.

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"Dying Devotion"
Mark 9:38-50
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Goal: in thankfulness for God's devotion to us, unwavering devotion to Him
Malady: holding on to, following, having an eye out for worldly kingdom things
Means: God the Father's devotion to us by sending His Son and giving His Spirit
1. hals {halce}, v49: salt with which food is seasoned and sacrifices are sprinkled; those kinds of saline matter used to fertilize arable land. Salt is a symbol of lasting concord because it protects food from putrefaction and preserves it unchanged. Accordingly, in the solemn ratification of compacts, the orientals were, and are to this day, accustomed to partake of salt together; wisdom and grace exhibited in speech. (Strong's)
2. The story goes that a Montana sheepherder got sick and was taken to the hospital in Fort Benton. His sheep dog followed his master to the city and kept watch outside the hospital door. When the sheepherder died, his body was taken to the train to be shipped back to his family in the East. The dog, Shep by name, appeared at the train station, cried for his master, and vainly chased the train down the tracks. For the next five-and-a-half years, Shep met every train that came into Fort Benton, hoping that one of the passengers getting off would be his master. Shep became well known, and kindly people took care of him; but he refused to be taken to anyone's home. He had but one devotion: waiting for his master to return. Shep's devotion did not waver until the cold winter day in 1941 when he died.
3. Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your money and so much of your work--I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there; I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self... I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself; my own will shall become yours. (C.S. Lewis)
4. There are small human-powered millstones and larger donkey-powered millstones. Jesus specifies the larger mulos onikos--a donkey-powered millstone. Jesus is using hyperbole--exaggerated language--to dramatize the danger of causing injury to "little ones." (Richard Donovan)
5. The word translated hell is the Greek geennan or Gehenna. The name is derived from the valley of Hinnom, a ravine outside Jerusalem where Ahaz practiced human sacrifice (2 Chron 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 32:35). King Josiah brought such practices to a halt by declaring the valley unclean and using it as a garbage dump (2 Kings 23:10). (Richard Donovan)
6. "For everyone will be salted with fire" (v49): temple sacrifices require both salt and fire (Lev 2:13). Jesus seems to suggest here that the disciples will experience persecution--a present reality at the time that Mark wrote this Gospel. (Richard Donovan)
7. "Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?" (v50a): salt found on the shores of the Dead Sea is often intermixed with impurities so that it is no longer good for seasoning. (Richard Donovan)
8. There are no hints in the context of verse 42 that "the little ones" Mark speaks of are children. The few other times Mark uses the term "mikroi" it is never with reference to children either. So these little ones are more likely the "little people," the ones who are considered to have little value, in short, the ochlos-outsiders. It was the ochlos-outsiders who on other occasions in Mark did "believe" in Jesus, did "hear him gladly," "ran ahead" to where they thought he was going. (Ed Schroeder)

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