Mark 9:38–41, Yeshua forbids sectarianism. Though someone may not be in our spiritual camp, if they are doing good and are not against us, we’re to give them credit of the good they are doing. This is the high road of love, mercy and grace that Yeshua expects his disciples to follow in regards to those of other congregations, denominations or ministries.
Mark 9:38–50, Avoid strife and contention. This is a very enigmatic passage that commentators struggle with trying to explain, since Yeshua links together so many seemingly disparate concepts. I say “seemingly,” since there is nothing average about the Master’s intellect, or his knowledge of spiritual truth. Our inability to comprehend his sayings should only spur us onward to dig all the more into their heights and depths of meaning, thus uncovering the nuggets of truth from within the transcendent intellect of our Master and Creator!
Yeshua the Master begins his discourse by discouraging sectarianism. “Those who aren’t against us are for us.” He then promises rewards to those who are kind to his disciples, implying that his disciples should in turn be kind to others who, though they may not be a part of your particular group, they may not necessarily be working against you, for they may also be kingdom workers but with a different assignment than yours (vv. 38–41).
Next, our Master warns against offense—especially those who offend (or cause to stumble) the little ones who are still young and tender in their faith. Linked with the preceding thought, the implication may be that Yeshua’s servants need to beware of not offending any of his kingdom workers whether they are part of “our group” or not. Only the Almighty sees the larger picture much as a general oversees his troops. The individual soldier knows his own marching orders, and may be oblivious to the orders of other soldier’s elsewhere, and is thus in no position to judge another soldier who has other marching orders.
Yeshua then issues a strong warning against any actions (the hand), or any directions of our lives (the foot), or any perspective (the eye) that may lead us to sin in causing one of YHVH’s kingdom workers elsewhere to stumble spiritually. Such an offense may bring us under the severe and unquenchable fires of YHVH’s eternal judgment. In other words, when we, through offensive actions and perspectives, cause one of YHVH’s kingdom workers who is operating outside of our limited view of things to stumble, we may be doing irreparable damage to the advancement of the kingdom, thus risk bringing the wrath of Elohim squarely down upon us (vv. 42–48).
Yeshua concludes his discourse with an even more mysterious statement that commingles a variety of biblical concepts. Many biblical commentators admit the difficulty of understanding this passage (e.g. Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Beale and Carson). He indicates that his disciples, as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), must allow themselves to be laid on the altar of YHVH’s service like the animal sacrifices of old. As these sacrifices went through the sprinkling of salt (Lev 2:13; Ezek 43:24) and the burning of fire on the altar of sacrifice, even so, as living sacrifices doing YHVH’s kingdom work, Yeshua’s disciples must be willing to endure the fires of trials and adversity. Fire both consumes and purifies, while salt both preserves and seasons—two activities that are continually needed in the disciple’s life as part of their spiritual refinement in order for them to become perfect and sin-free like their Master.
Yeshua ends with the admonition to be salty or spicy (in our words and actions) as we advance his kingdom. But we mustn’t be offensive in our demeanor such that it causes others to stumble, thus breaking the peace between our fellow coworkers, since we are all working together for the same Master. No matter what, maintain peace one with another (vv. 49–50)!
This final admonition brings us full circle back to Yeshua’s initial point in his instructions to his disciple to avoid sectarianism and to be a peacemaker among spiritual brethren. YHVH hates division and strife within the congregation of the righteous and calls it an abomination (Prov 6:16–19). Those who cause it are to be avoided (Rom 16:17; 2 Thess 3:6) if not excommunicated (Tit 3:10)!
Does the HOLY CREATOR really “hate” or is that just a scriptural ‘figure of speech’ to drive the point home that ‘it breaks his heart’ when we sin?
Yes, he hates. This is not a figure of speech. This is what the Hebrew clearly infers. Check out my earlier posts on this subject at http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=6532&action=edit and http://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=500&action=edit.
Here is another clear and simple admonition to add to the other good references you have provided:
“PURSUE SHALOM WITH EVERYONE, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” [Heb 12:14]
Many lack a LOVE OF THE TRUTH, while many others lack THE TRUTH OF LOVE. It used to be my nature, and is still the nature of many, to presume I was pursuing a love of the truth, while I was yet falling far short of the truth of love.
True love pursues shalom with everyone, even as it pursues and defends a love of the truth.
We must not compromise His truth OR His love. We must grow up and be mature in the likeness the character of His love – humility, meekness, patience, and kindness – even as we are to grow up and be mature in the knowledge of and obedience to His truth. This is true strength! It is not strength being an arrogant “big mouth”! It is weakness! Being free from the fear of man does not mean being free from the fear of Adonai.
I think the following admonitions of Messiah are quite applicable:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evildoer. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…Therefore be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” [Mat 5:38-39a, 43-44, 48]
If we are commanded by Messiah to even love our enemies who persecute us, how much more are we to love those who are our “neighbors ” who only disagree with us?
It is a shame and a misrepresentation of His name that many who seem to so highly esteem themselves in their knowledge of “the truth”, so lowly esteem Him in their knowledge of His character. Maybe this is some of what the commandment means, “You shall not take the Name of Adonai your Elohim in vain” – supposing one is defending His truth while not displaying His character.
After all, being that He is “the TRUTH” while also being the “Prince of SHALOM”, should we not also be ambassadors of not only “the Truth”, but SHALOM to all, as well?
However, having said this, it must also be qualified that we are not to pursue “shalom” at all costs, for that would ultimately mean to compromise the truth and, in fact, that would not be true shalom at all. That would be the shalom as the world gives it and not truly His shalom [Joh 14:27]. In this sense, we must also remember that Messiah said, “Do not think that I came to bring shalom on the earth; I did not come to bring shalom, but a sword (truth that divides and separates).” [Mat 10:34]
Wow! What simple, yet profound truths!! We need to hear more things like this. This is the mixture of spirit and truth Yeshua was referring to in his conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.
I am elevating this post and placing it on the marquee of this blog.
Thank you, Natan. May His favor be upon you and your family always and forever.
I really enjoyed re reading this one on Contention & Strife. ..I think every believer has suffered the consequences of CONTENTION & STRIFE IN ALL OF OUR LIVES, WHETHER IT BE IN THE CHURCH OR OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH. (congregation)
IM SURE WE HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED IT FROM THE TIME WE WERE CHILDREN …WITNESSING IT IN OUR FAMILIES ..( as we were growing up ..arguments, disagreements, in our families from parents, siblings extended family, friends or so called friends.workmates etc….as children witnessing contention & strife ; it can take on many forms & also cause great pain & division..etc..dysfunction to varying degrees ..eg..an alcoholic, angry ,quarrelsome person…..& many other instances too numerous to mention..Dysfunction in families can cause many problems for future generations..THE SINS OF THE FATHERS…( & mothers also I guess. )
Family iniquities ,not all of us have come from Godly Torah observant homes or families etc..or have had the privilege of being born into a picture perfect family…BUT THRU YAHS “GRACE & MERCY ” …HE HAS REACHED DOWN FROM THE SHAYAMIN & TOUCHED EVERY BELIEVER WHO HAS FAITH & TRUST IN HIM : TO OFFER US HIS ” UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & ACCEPTANCE IN A SIN RIDDEN WORLD …OH WHAT MERCY & LOVE HE HAS SHOWN & BESTOWED ON US…THRU HIS PRECIOUS SON YESHUA HA MASHIACH..TO GOD ( YAH / ABBA FATHER BE THE GLORY.)
THANK YOU TO NATAN & JERRY FOR SUCH INSIGHT INTO THIS SUBJECT…& BRINGING TO THE “LIGHT”.. YAHS TRUTH ON THE SUBJECT..!! YES WE HAVE TO HAVE & DISPLAY YESHUAS CHARACTER & FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT ( As Jerry said maturity ) TO OVERCOME THE EVIL. ONE & HIS DEVICES IN THIS MATTER RE CONTENTION & STRIFE.or another word is ; PROUD DEBATING & QUARELLING….WHEN IN EFFECT BELIEVERS CAN BE IMATURE IN FAITH, IGNORANT IN THE WORD & ARROGANT IN PRIDE..IM SURE THOSE TRAITS LEAD TO CONTENTION & STRIFE IN THE BODY…
LETS ALL BE SPURNED ON TO A HIGHER CALLING , LEVEL OF MATURITY AS WE FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS IN THE BODY OF YESHUA.
AS PAUL SAID WITHOUT LOVE WE ARE JUST A CLANGING SYMBOL…