Praise God from whom all blessings flow! In my recent prayer, our gracious Lord and Saviour gave me a revelation in Mark 9:49-50, as a “reminder” of His expectation of us His Church, the children of our Heavenly Father.
With thanksgiving, I know truly in my heart that our glorious Lord, by the power of His Holy Spirit, is continually preparing His people; building us up as a people of God and of His kingdom. This is especially important for us, as we need to be prepared, equipped and strengthened, to welcome the glorious return of our Lord.
Malachi 3:1-2 warned in his time also: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming, and who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” Here, John the Baptist is the messenger, preparing the way for Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Yet again in Mark 8:34-35, the warnings and promises to the followers of Jesus throughout all the ages are confirmed and made certain as the Lord says: “Whoever who desires to come after Me, let him deny himself , and take up his cross; and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
May I now share with you.
Jesus said to John in Mark 9:49-50: “For everyone will be salted with fire. 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.”
The reference Jesus is making here is salting the sacrifice under the Levitical law of the Old Testament. The importance of salt is enshrined in Leviticus 2:13 which says: “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” This law requires that every acceptable sacrifice must be sprinkled with salt, to symbolise its soundness, its sweetness, its wholesomeness and its acceptability as a sacrifice. It is generally understood that salt is also emblematic of “purity,” while at the same time, acting as a preservation of flesh; both are therefore very fitting, for and as, sacrifices to God. Purity of individuals is foundation toward the holiness of the entire covenant community. As we devote ourselves to the Lord, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, we are actually pledging ourselves as “acceptable offerings” in the eyes of God, to serve Him wholeheartedly, remembering that we are all called by the Lord to be the “Salt of the earth and light of the world” (Matthew 5:13).
John the Baptist, said to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 3:11: “I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” “Fire” denotes law and keeping ourselves from the gratifications of the flesh. Everyone should be salted with this everlasting and inconsumable fire — both the good and the bad. In life, this fire alone consumes, or purifies our flesh. When we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, such that we should not be condemned with the world, for our flesh is subject to the corruption of sin. God’s judgement upon the wicked is “condemnation”, a fire which cannot be quenched. It is better to experience the present and immediate pain of self denial, than to face a future of eternal torment.
In order for us to be acceptable offerings to God and fit for eternal service in the Kingdom of God, all must be done to “purify” and “preserve” ourselves from sin. Self-denial, turning away from lusts, enduring trials, removing ourselves from all offences, can be seen as appropriate “preservatives” for the service of God. Those who are consecrated unto God, those whose lives are lived as offerings to Him, will not lack the power of His holy grace; a power which binds our soul to Him, and inwardly preserves our soul from evil.
When disciples of the Lord lose the essence of true discipleship and strive after vain self ambition, they immediately become useless. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus told His disciples precisely this as He questioned them: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Bearing in mind that the streets of these times were open sewers and strewn with animal droppings, such that only slaves stooped to wash the feet of guests, this analogy would have struck the listeners strongly and not have been easily forgotten.
Instead of bickering for positions of preference for ourselves, we need to allow the salt of the gospel to preserve us from our selfish ambitions, so that we will be at peace with one another. We also need to recognise that our lives have either a positive or negative effect on other people, especially those who are witnessing our walk with God and the fruit which we are, or are not, bearing. In Colossians 4:6, Paul teaches us to: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Some people will remain adamantly opposed to us, no matter what we do. There will be times when all our best efforts towards peace prove to be in vain and peace fails. However, as Christians, we are to ensure that we are not at fault when peace breaks down. As Romans 12:18 directs us: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
As true Christians, we are asked to live responsibly, such that we bring glory to God by the testimony of our lives and our conduct, as viewed by others. Let us endeavour, within our power, to promote peace, harmony and unity, that we may be instrumental in edifying each other and in promoting faith, knowledge, and piety. Let us not become stumbling-blocks for others. Romans 14:19 encourages us in this exhorting: “let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
The Gospels show us clearly the humble and devoted service of Christ in His proclaiming of the Kingdom of God. In His devoted service to His Father, His divine glory shines through His humility and obedience to His Father under all circumstances. Psalm 103:19 says: “The Lord has established his throne in heaven and His kingdom rules over all.” May we encourage one another as Matthew 18:4 says, “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Let us continue to persevere and to stand by the promises of God. For as James 1:25 says: “whoever looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it, he is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This one shall be blessed in his doing.”
Amen and Amen!