Mark 9:38-50 - Learning not to persecute true Christians
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
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John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
This is the Gospel selection to be read aloud by a priest on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 21], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will follow one of two pairs of readings that present the Old Testament and Psalms. The Track 1 pair focuses on the story of Esther and her expressing the wish for King Ahasuerus to spare the lives of Mordechai and the Jews in Persia, who advisor Haman planned to execute. Psalm 124 sings, “If Yahweh had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us; Then would they have swallowed us up alive in their fierce anger toward us.” The Track 2 pair deals with a Numbers reading, when Yahweh addressed the complaints of the Israelites by filling their elders with His Spirit, causing them to prophesy. Psalm 19 then is shown to sing, “By them also is your servant enlightened, and in keeping them there is great reward.” One of those pairs will precede the Epistle reading from James, where the Apostle wrote, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.”
I wrote about this reading the last time it came up in the lectionary cycle, three years ago , and I posted my view on my website then. That commentary can be read by clicking on this link. In that article, I expressed sound views about this reading, examining the Greek text deeply. Therefore, those observations are still valid today and worthy of being read by discerning seekers of the truth. I welcome all to read those words and then compare them to what I will add today. As always, I welcome comments, questions, suggestions and corrections; but now I will take a different approach on these words of Mark, which I did not focus on before.
To begin with, I want to focus on the element of divine marriage that is stated in the Greek of these words. When John [of Zebedee] said “we saw someone casting out demons in your name,” the Greek words “en tō onomati sou” literally translate as “in this name of you.” There, the use of “onomati” must be read within the scope of meaning that is “name, authority, cause,” (Strong’s Definition) as well as “character, fame, and reputation.” (Strong’s Usage) The genitive case of “sou,” which is the possessive form of “su,” as “yours” [from “you”] is stating the marriage of Jesus’ soul to the soul of the stranger, said to be using Jesus’ “name.”
A statement “in the name of” says one of two things. First, it is a statement of one’s father, where his children share his name. John of Zebedee is a name that says John is the son of his father named Zebedee. Second, it is a statement of relationship to a brother of the same father. Jesus is the Son of man, meaning the Son of Yahweh in the flesh; so, the stranger was stating he had the same name as a brother of Jesus, because they shared the same Father. In this way, James [of Zebedee] the brother of John, could say “In the name of John,” because both brothers shared the same name. Still, John was not a female, but a wife was identified by the husband who possessed her, such as Mary of Clopas. That name is identifying a woman as being in the name of her husband. Therefore, “in the name of you” states familial relationship, which says a stranger was seen saying his relationship with Jesus gave him the ability to cast out demon spirits.
When Jesus was heard to say, “Whoever is not against us is for us,” the Greek written says this: “hos gar ouk estin kath’ hēmōn , hyper hēmōn estin .” This literally translates to say, “who indeed not is against us , on behalf of us is .” In Mathew 12:30a is a similar quote, where Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” In that, the Greek word of focus is “emou,” rather than “hēmōn.” In “emou” the genitive case [possessive form], in the singular number, which is stated for “egṓ,” or “I.” The word “hēmōn” is the genitive case [possessive form], in the plural number, which is stated for “egṓ,” or “I.” As such, the same thing is said in both places, where the stranger casting out demons in the name of Jesus was “us” as the plural of Jesus, through divine possession. Jesus was the singular soul possessed by the Father, when he used the singular “emou.”
Now, I understand that the way I am explaining this text seems to be against all standard translations of Greek to English, as nobody would ever use the plural possessive of “us” and mean dual souls inhabiting one body of flesh. This is just one of the many examples of how the depth of true meaning is written in plain view, but carefully hidden from the wise and intelligent. There is certainly a case to be made for Jesus speaking normal talk and Mark writing normal talk down. However, faith says one recognizes Yahweh’s divine hand was in play in everything said and written; so, there is a normal way to read the words and then there is a Spiritual way to read the same words.
This reading from Mark, as read on this Sunday, appears in a vacuum, as if nothing prior had happened, before John went up to Jesus and began this line of conversation. In reality, the broad view or whole scope connects this to last Sunday’s reading, when Jesus called his twelve disciples close to him, when he told them: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” In that, Jesus said (in Greek), “dexētai epi tō onomati mou , eme dechetai ; kai hos an eme dechētai , ouk eme dechetai , alla ton aposteilanta me .” This is five segments of words that must be read literally in English as such:
“shall receive in the name of me ,
me receives ;
kai who might me shall receive ,
not me receives ,
but him having sent me .”
This says anyone who welcomes the birth of a boy in the name of Jesus then Spiritually receives the soul of Jesus [“me”] AND IMPORTANTLY (from the use of “kai”) if one does receive Jesus ["me"] that is not all ["not only me"], as he or she will receive the Father who sent Jesus into them ["the one who sent me"]. So, after Jesus said that to the twelve, that receipt of Jesus into others brought back to John’s memory how they had tried to stop a stranger from casting out demons in the name of Jesus. It dawned on John of Zebedee that what Jesus had just said could explain what he and the others tried to stop.
This brings up their actions against strangers being Jesus reborn as being selfishly misguided. When Jesus said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me,” the “little ones who believe in me” are the example of John the Beloved, who Jesus brought into the middle of the twelve, beginning his teachings of acceptance. It is “little ones who believe” that connects this Sunday’s reading to last Sunday’s reading. Jesus then commenced to tell the disciples what stopping the advent of true Christianity would mean.
He first said, “it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.” That would be an act of self-inflicted death. Death means the soul has no time left to repent and make the necessary arrangements to marry Yahweh [according to His schedule]. To act out selfishly against a soul one does not recognize as Jesus reborn is then spiritual suicide.
Jesus then said, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” Here, the blame is not on causing another to “stumble” [“skandalizó”], but the acts against another in the name of Christ that cause oneself to “stumble” [“skandalizē”]. By placing focus on one’s “hand” [“cheir”], this says if one refuses to offer a helping “hand” to one in the name of Jesus,” then that refusal will condemn your actions. Thus, one should immediately do everything possible to help those in that name spiritually. To let petty jealousies condemn one’s soul to hell is faithless.
Then the focus was on feet, when Jesus said, “if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell.” Here, rather than offering a hand to those in the name of Jesus Christ, the state of being that is not in that holy name is failing to reach out and be touched by Yahweh, so one is not walking the path of righteousness that one in that name does. Staying away from a commitment to Yahweh is then another form of self-condemnation, where one’s soul will never reach eternal life in heaven.
Jesus then added how one's failure to see to this list of self-punishing acts that need to be avoided. He said, “And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.” This is stating denial that souls can marry Yahweh. It is denying that Jesus can be reborn in other bodies of flesh, at the Will of the Father. If one refuses to see the dual meaning in the words written in sacred texts, only seeing them as having one possible meaning – YOUR SELFISH WAY OF UNDERSTANDING – then one is refusing to see the truth that is right before your eyes.
Seeing with two eyes is called “binocular vision,” which allows for depth of field. This is seeing two ways merged as one, so this is the way humans have been taught to see. That dual vision Has one place primary focus on the material, and physical, refusing to accept that there is a soul that is invisible. The soul and the spiritual exist in divine Scripture AT THE SAME TIME standard language rules forbid seeing beyond the normal. Binocular vision means the normal leads one to look deeper; but one needs to see the truth for oneself [which I am trying to teach how to see it for yourself], taking the time to see two separate fields of vision. That demands personal work that (with practice) becomes the ONLY WAY to see Scripture [once you learn how to see with “one eye”].
This past January , I wrote about Matthew quoting Jesus about the salt of the earth. I refer you to read that short commentary that explains salt cannot lose its saltiness. That can be read by clicking on this link. When you understand that, to read how Jesus said [Mark 9, NRSV]: “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” That means have life in your body of flesh. Life comes from a soul being married to Yahweh. Without the “salt of life” one is a dead man [or woman] walking. To lose your saltiness is to die and go to hell. Therefore, the lesson here is “Have life in your souls, and be at peace with one another.” One another means your submissive soul and the resurrected soul of Jesus that enters your body of flesh, giving it eternal life.
As a reading to ponder on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson is to stop trying to make Scripture meet your selfish needs and sinful failures and accept that there are strangers that have already been truly touched by Yahweh, reborn as His Son, and it is not your role to get in the way. So many men and women ‘of the cloth’ are nothing but selfish followers of Jesus, who want to rid the world of anyone who does not march to the beat of their drum. They need to understand this message is sent by Yahweh to slap them across the face with their failures: to lend a helping hand to true Saints that do not dress up like fancy Dans and prima Donnas, to pretend to be pious. Sainthood means walking a path of true righteousness, by submitting one’s soul to Yahweh and becoming His Son reborn. To see the truth of Scripture, which no seminary on earth can teach, demands one’s soul be committed to Yahweh and be led to see the truth of His Word [not some best selling religious author’s moneymaking ideas].