Mark 9:50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
What an odd passage! If you find it a bit of a challenge to understand — you are not alone. There are a couple dozen different scholarly interpretations. Nevertheless, Jesus said we are to “have peace with one another” — of that we are sure. Let’s see if we can figure out what He meant…
The day had been long and difficult as Jesus entered a house in Capernaum to rest. Being aware of intense conversation among His followers on the way in, he asks: “What were you arguing about on the road?”
The disciples had been arguing over who was greatest among the followers of Jesus… but they said nothing. So, sitting down, Jesus placed a small child among them and began to teach them that greatness lies in quiet service of others. We are to welcome and encourage the “little ones” who believe — even more than the highly gifted and popular ones who believe. Jesus issued a warning against offending and wounding such valued members of His family — the ones who were the true “greats”.
Then he talks about salt! Salt in the Old Testament was used to flavor food, season sacrifices and seal covenants. In Leviticus 2:13 salt is offered with a grain offering as a symbol of the promised, unbreakable relationship between God and His people. It was customary to exchange a measure of salt when making a legal agreement as a symbol of the incorruptibility of the deal. Salt was a preservative.
Disciples fighting over “greatness” are driven by a selfishness that works against the care and honor of the “little ones” in the family of God. We possess a oneness in Christ that he wants us to maintain and preserve — in much the way that salt preserves food and is a symbol of a binding agreement.
Selfish ambition renders us unfit as a living sacrifice for God’s use, so Jesus says “get salty”! Be at peace with your brothers and sisters — especially the “little ones” who seem less important and worthy. Recognize the family relationship and act like family.
Do we argue today about greatness among the brothers? Well, let’s see…
- Have you ever thought you were closer to God than another brother or sister?
- Have you ever rejected a brother or sister because they held an “inferior” understanding of the Bible? (e.g., Baptist, charismatic etc.)
- Have you ever felt your position in the church elevated you to a place of greater honor?
- Have you ever put down the ministry of another church that was being blessed by God? You know — a little bit of jealousy? (“There has to be something wrong with what they’re doing over there!”)
- When you took a class, read a book, or obtained a level of education/training that others did not have — did you feel a “bit ahead” of other believers?
- Did you ever feel like you didn’t need to listen to another believer because they were young or inexperienced?