Welcome the child #2 (Mark 9:38-50)

This is #2 because it is a continuation from last week.  A couple curious notes regarding the text.  The division of the reading from last week and this week affects how we might look at what Jesus is teaching.  Reading this lesson alone our attention is easily drawn to the draconian approach of dealing with sin.  Namely, self-mutilation if the foot or eye causes us to sin.  However, what is the ‘sin’ that Jesus is referring to?  A second note is about translation.  The NIV has Jesus talking about sin.  The NRSV has Jesus talking about stumbling.

Jesus is teaching about community.  Especially how the church will function following his death, resurrection and ascension.  We need to listen.  Last week the disciples weren’t listening because their concern was over who was the greatest among them.  Jesus took a child and pointed out that not welcoming one like a child of lower political power and position is to not welcome him and the kingdom.  This week the disciples stopped a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus.  Why?  He wasn’t part of the group in which thy want to be most important.  Jesus then goes on to describe the serious nature of sin/stumbling.  I think the great sin is about stumbling.

Stumbling over the cross and resurrection…

Stumbling over having control about ministry…

Stumbling over power and who gets to have it…

Causing others to stumble and leave the church or to lose faith…

The different parts of life that cause us to stumble in our following of Christ and relationships in the church…

The consequences of sin and stumbling Jesus describes to be hellish.  He is so correct.

Sexual assault and abuse has hit the church hard recently.  The Roman Catholic and a couple prominent protestant churches are now dealing with the consequences which must feel hellish.  Think of the stumbling done to the faith of those injured.

A congregation goes through a fight over worship, music, the pastor, etc.  The situation would seem hellish to all.  Imagine the stumbling done to the faith of those caught in the middle.

We follow the One who took the cross and three days later arose from the grave.  Jesus’ life shows us a different path than the path of power leaving casualties in its wake.  Or as in this reading those of little faith stumbling over the church acting more like the world around it than a place where life is seen and lived.

No wonder Jesus concluded by saying, “…and be at peace with each other.”

Peace.

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