A Spade is a Spade

 spade

 1. Introduction
So what’s this?
A manually operated soil excavation implement?
It’s a spade!
In our wonderful journey through Mark’s Gospel we have come to the point where Jesus’ revelation of who He is no longer in any doubt.
Some of the disciples have seen Him transfigured without any doubt He is the Christ the son of the Living God.

So let’s call Him who He is He is Let’s call a spade a spade He is the son of God.

 

And it is in this passage that Jesus chooses not to mince His words too, lets turn to Mark 9:33.

 
Mark 9 38-48
Mk 9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Mk 9:39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,
Mk 9:40 for whoever is not against us is for us.
Mk 9:41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Mk 9:42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
Mk 9:45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
Mk 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
Mk 9:48 where “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
 
 2. A biblical safety net
The passage we are looking at today is not comfortable stuff. In fact prepare to be offended. Jesus calls a spade a spade.  To help us, to bring some foundation to this let’s turn back for a minute to the earlier teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew Ch 6
 
Mt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Mt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Mt 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
Mt 6:28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Mt 6:29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Mt 6:30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Mt 6:31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
Mt 6:32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Mt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Mt 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
 
Jesus is saying here that our direction our focus our attention in life should be the growth of the kingdom of God within each one of us. That if that is the case then the rest will fall into place.
 
3. He’s not one of us!
Now let’s return to Mark’s Gospel and pick up the story at 9:38-
 
Mk 9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
 
Teacher said John- said who –John Is this the John the disciple Jesus loved the disciple who had witnessed just the day before perhaps - the transfiguration. Yep that’s the one
 
John was concerned –because he was not one of us.

 

The facts were these

  1. He was healing people- successfully healing people
  2. He was using the name of Jesus to do it.
 Now we have to guess the rest
  1. He must have heard Jesus as part of the crowd- perhaps that early teaching around the lake the sermon on the kingdom of God- and it seems that unlike the disciples had completely grasped the principles that Jesus had taught.
  2. Even more to his credit he had then just got on with his life and responded to the promptings of the Holy spirit – As Jesus put it he would have been as happy to give someone a cup of water in Jesus’ name, or washed their car or fixed their washing machine or listened to them- all in Jesus’ name. knowing this wonderful truth.
 down to him
 
 The name of Jesus is not a magic word for our prayers but a statement of identification in our lives. We live and move on behalf of the King- to extend the boundaries of the kingdom – within us
 
4. The response of Jesus
The obsession with putting boundaries around us- They are not like us - is a human weakness that Jesus responds to pretty darn strongly. Personally I am astonished at his patience. A point I may return to if I have time.
 
But just remember that Jesus had been preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom now for over two years to these guys and here they are completely missing the obvious issues.- Not that we ever miss it of course!
 
So how does Jesus respond.
He calls a spade a spade.
 
:39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,
Mk 9:40 for whoever is not against us is for us.
Mk 9:41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
Mk 9:42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
 
I’d like to return to the millstones in a minute, but I want to point out that it would be easy for us to connect ‘one of these little ones’ to the child in v. 36. I do not believe Jesus was intending to- He was concerned to ensure that not ONE of us ever squashed the faith of those weaker or less educated or with learning difficulties or younger or newly converted. He was saying
 
Don’t you DARE Don’t you DARE assume that you have the full revelation of God. Jesus never afraid to call it like it is said
it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck.
 
 
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If he had said millstone everyone would have thought of this No He didn’t He said Large Millstone.
A distinction that is lost on us because of our culture but the this is the difference
But no He said large millstone which is this!
 
Jesus wanted to make a point.
 
This was now turning into a challenging day for Jesus’ friends and that now includes us so be challenged.
 
5. Sin is Sin
Jesus continues verse 43
Mk 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
Mk 9:45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
Mk 9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
Mk 9:48 where “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
 
Jesus chooses three parts of the body which broadly describe our whole behaviour and attitude.
 
The hand- The Actions we take-our deeds
The foot- The paths we take – our direction
The eye- The attention we give – our focus.
 
Jesus is saying If the path we are taking will lead us to sin – we will die
 
This is a no brainer- Which is preferable a short life of worldly motivated ambition and glory or an eternity without legs you won’t need anyway!
 
If our hands accomplish deeds that the world considers amazing – a great pianist or scientist but empty of any love for God or our fellow man then we would have been better off without those abilities if we then had served God  
 
If our focus our vision is on following after pleasure or prosperity, if our eyes are on the next big break, instead of on Jesus, we would be better off without being able to see those distractions at all.
 
The truth of course is that Jesus does not intend for us to cut off parts of our body but he wants us to realize the seriousness of sin.
 
6. The tins of Sin
Here we are some tins of sin
Comes in all sizes of course
 
Small one for you
Large one for you
 
Now can you read out what it says on your tin.
 

This tin comes with a Royal warning

The smallest amount leads to certain death

 
 
Now you can have your tinned sin
 
  • sugar coated with good intentions
  • Raw and deliberate
  • Roasted with passion
  • Ice cold with cruelty
 
However you serve it I guarantee the same result
 
Death
 
It does what it says on the tin.
 
In the scales of God’s righteous judgment all sin weighs the same
 
And wonderfully ALL can be forgiven.
 
Ro 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Ro 3:24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
 
Jesus offers love and forgiveness to all who come to Him.
 
Having turned from our sin Jesus calls us to change
The direction of our life- where our feet take us- to follow Him
The actions of our life – where our hands take us- to serve Him
The focus of our lives- where our eyes take us- to gaze on Him
 
All under the Kingdom rule of God
 
Jesus helps us so much with this verse in Mark 9:50
 
 
Mk 9:50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
 
In Matthew 5:13 Jesus describes us as the salt of the earth.
 
To bring purity and flavour to our dead world- Our internal Quality.
To be at Peace with each other- Our external relationships.
 


7. If there’s time!
 
A final observation regarding what I have seen as I have followed the account in Mark. Particularly this one week in the life of the disciples that Mark records from the Confession of Peter in Chapter 8 to the end of Chapter 9
 
Ch8:33 The get behind me Satan moment
Ch9:5 The lets build shelters for the prophets moment
Ch9:14 The What are you arguing about-They couldn’t heal the man moment
Ch 9:33 The who is the greatest moment
Ch 9:38 The last straw moment when John blows it with the guy who wasn’t one of us.
 
I make that 5 pretty significant muck ups by guys following Jesus Christ for two years.
 
And yet these were the men that Jesus Chose
That he breathed the Holy Spirit upon
That went on to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom
That moved in the power of the Holy spirit.
 
And so are we chosen, spirit breathed, commissioned and empowered.
 

 

Tim Blake, 09/09/2007