Essential Discipleship Lessons, Part 3 | Mark 9:49–50
The disciples have been full of themselves, but Jesus provides the corrective. He tells them that they need to serve all and receive all (vv. 39–41). He also told them that they need to do everything they can to avoid being stumbling blocks to other believers and even themselves (vv. 41–48). Now, as He’s finishing His lessons on discipleship in this section, He’s going to admonish them to live sacrificially.
Disciples become living sacrifices (v. 49). Salt was required on all meat offerings (Lv 2:13), and both salt and fire appear together in the sacrifices (Ezr 6:9; Ez 43:23–24). God also scatters His fire like salt in judgment (cf. Job 18:15; Eze 10:2). In other words, God gives us an image of sacrifice in Scripture and one of judgment.
Jesus died once-for-all sacrifice for all believers (Hb 10:1–18). Disciples are called in Him to be living sacrifices, which can be painful at times (Rm 12:1). If one is a believer in Christ, though, he can still expect the pain of chastisement as the Father sanctifies us (Hb 12:4–11)—which may seem hard at the time, but “afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” However, those who refuse to submit to our Lord will experience the pain of the “unquenchable fire” that He spoke of back in v. 43.
Disciples become active stabilizers (v. 50). Salt can preserve meat, which is vital to people who lack modern refrigeration. So, it was a major commodity in the ancient world, and a skilled individual would be “worth his salt.” True salt lasts, but impurities like gypsum might make it lose its “saltiness” over time.
Christians must allow the Lord to remove their haughty attitude toward other Christians. The sin within them is an impurity which will cause their salt to lose its flavor and effectiveness. As a result, instead of being peacemakers, Christians become divisive. As the Lord works, though, He can remove the impurities and implant the true salt of the Spirit—making us a preserving ingredient in this world.