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Disciples and Hell

DISCIPLES AND HELL                      

 Mark 9: 42-50

In these verses Jesus, once again, teaches us some essential lessons concerning our striving to be the kind of disciples that He wants us to be.

If you remember back up in verse 34 the disciples were busy exalting themselves and claiming to be the greatest.

And then in verse 38, one of the disciples of Christ, John, either by way of confession, or question, or out of arrogance, tells Jesus that “they saw a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and they tried to stop him because He was not following them…or he was not one of the 12.”  

Now out of all this, comes Jesus’ teachings found in verses 42-50.

And the first thing that Jesus tells them is, they need to think about what kind of influence they are on others. Look at verse 42:

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into  the sea.”

 Now keep in mind here that when Jesus says this, he is still holding the little child that he took in his arms back in vs. 36.

 Did you know there are two ways for your influence to cause someone to stumble?

But on the other hand someone may see your “wrong attitude and conduct” and get the impression that it is “ok” to be that way…and thus they become like you.

What ever way you influence them…whether you drive them away…or if they become a snare like you…Jesus says here that if you cause them to stumble…you deserve the most gruesome of deaths.

Brethren, Jesus is saying here, “Look at yourself. Look at your own conduct and influence…and make sure that your influence is such that it strengthens and lifts others up, instead of it causing them to stumble.

Again, Jesus is teaching His disciples and He mentions something here in these verses that we don’t like to hear about and that is HELL.

If there is no hell, my question is, “Why do we need a Savior?”

And let me tell you another thing that we do with the concept of Hell…we joke about it.

Look at what Jesus says about it. Look at verse 45: Notice the word that Jesus uses for “Hell.”

Now, the Jews understood the significance of  the “Valley of Hinnom.”

But the Valley of Hinnom was a little different than the Gehenna that Jesus speaks of here.

You see, when Jesus quotes from Isaiah 66 and verse 24 here, He is making Gehenna more than just a trash heap outside of Jerusalem.

And what Jesus is saying is, in spite of the fact that so many want to dismiss Hell and say it does not exist…it is real.

In fact, He says, whatever it takes…even if it takes radical action…do all you can to stay out of that place. Let’s read it. Vs. 43.

 “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, “And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell, “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

 Hell is not worth it.

In fact, hell is so bad that Jesus doesn’t advise the 5 year plan to get rid of whatever it is that is condemning you to hell.

He says, “cut it off…cast it out!”

And brethren, this isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to cut off your hand or you foot or cast out your eye.

And that is the way it is with some of the things we do…and see…and places we go.

But brethren, Jesus is saying, “There is something much worse than giving those things up, and that is going to hell.”

Jesus says that Hell is real.

But now look at verses 49-50. These two verses are two of the most difficult in scripture…especially vs. 49.

There are a number of ways in which this verse can be taken…it is hard to know.

And when he speaks of salt here…salt was used by these people as a preservative…or to seal a covenant.

It may be that when Jesus speaks of “fire” in verse 49 he is speaking of “trials…tests…hard choices.”

And vs. 50 is not that easy either. But there are some things we do know in verse 50. Look at what Jesus says. He says:

“Salt is good.”

But it could also become worthless. Jesus says, “But if salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again?

Then Jesus says: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Now, why does Jesus say this? Why does He tell His disciple to have “goodness in themselves and to be at peace with one another?”

“Goodness” is not what these disciples had within themselves.

And Jesus seems to be saying here, “Just as salt is good…you be good.”

And don’t lose that goodness.

And instead of conflict and strife…be at peace with one another.

These disciples tried so hard to stop a man from doing good.

Do some of us need to do the same thing?

Are we sometimes critical of others…do we sometimes try to stop others…all the while failing to look at ourselves?

But are we to do those things and ignore our own lives…lives that may be worse than those we are critical of?

Look at your life as a disciple of Christ…look at your influence…look at your actions…

Because failure to do so could make the difference between heaven and hell.