Thursday 24 February 2011

Bible Book:

"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea." (v. 42)

Mark 9:41-49 Thursday 24 February 2011


There is a strong element of satirical exaggeration in theseverses about avoiding the temptations of sin. Maybe there is atwinkle in Jesus' eye as he deliberately exaggerates the lengths towhich one might go in order to demonstrate one's commitment to aGod-centred way of life. His words are aimed at his gathereddisciples, but can we also hear the giggling of a small child intheir midst, enjoying Jesus' over-the-top examples?

But it's not such a far-fetched idea. The Gospel writer haspreviously described a scene in which Jesus, surrounded by hisfollowers, placed a child centre-stage and used him to demonstratethe value that God places on the most vulnerable in society (Mark9:36-37).

Now, just a few verses later, we may suppose that the child isstill present and proving a continuing source of inspiration forJesus' teaching. Ask for a drink, for example, and a child maybring you a cup of water. It is the simplest, least sophisticatedof offerings, a child's gift, but a loyal Christian disciple shouldexpect no more. Being a disciple carries no status and no highexpectation.

In our mind's eye, Jesus also seems to connect the disciples to thechild when he then delivers a severe warning against hindering thegrowth of faith. Jesus is referring to his immediate audience - butperhaps the Gospel writer Mark also wishes us to recall those notin Jesus' inner circle of whom he has recently said: "Whoever isnot against us is for us" (Mark9:40).

The little ones "who believe in me" (verse 42) are disciples ofwhom much will be demanded. They are required to value and protecttheir faith come what may. Nevertheless they are still "littleones", with all the implications of that phrase: Christ-followerswho require guidance, explanations, necessary rebukes and love, andwho should never forget their child-like dependence on God.

To Ponder

Who, or what, has caused you to stumble in yourjourney of faith?

How can we support those who want to exploretheir faith further but don't find 'church' an easy place to dothat?

To what extent is it possible that churchcommunities do as much to obstruct the exploration of faith as theydo to encourage it?

Previous Page Wednesday 23 February 2011
Next Page Friday 25 February 2011