Chapter 32

Important teaching on important subjects
Mark 9:30-50 (ESV)


30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”  


Mark 9:30-32
Another reminder

Jesus again reminds His disciples of His forthcoming rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. He wants no one to know He is in Galilee. Still it is not time to ‘go public’, outside His disciples, about His death.

Mark 9:33-37
Who is the greatest?

Amazingly, while Jesus predicts His rejection and death, His disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus says that the greatest person humbly serves everyone else and illustrates this from a child’s humility. Christian humility is childlike.

Mark 9:38-41
Appreciate the work of others

John says that the disciples tried to stop a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name, because he was not following us. Jesus states they are wrong. He wants people to do mighty works for Him. Anyone doing this cannot speak evil of Him afterwards. Jesus even will reward anyone giving His followers a cup of water to drink. We also must prize and esteem other Christians’ work as they trust His word, preach His gospel, and support His followers. If Jesus values them, so should we.

Mark 9:42-50[1]

Perhaps Christ’s next words result from His recent reference to a child. Jesus warns of grave consequences of causing little ones believing in Him to sin. This has dual application. Beware of damaging a young child in any way. God will avenge that, unless genuine repentance produces forgiveness through trusting Christ. Beware also of causing a newly born again Christian to stumble. However old that person is a ‘born again’ child of God through personal faith in Jesus.[2]. Anyone causing such a person to stumble must answer to God one day.

Jesus, expanding the thought of judgement, teaches it is better to lose your hand, foot or eye, if they make you sin, than to suffer Hell’s eternal judgement in continuous fire. Jesus speaks figuratively. He never intends self-harming. Rather, he recommends drastic action to cut out our sins in repentance and to trust Him. There is no other way to know His forgiveness and escape Hell. Like salt, which preserved meat from going bad, repentance and faith in Christ will purify us and guard from sin’s spreading corruption.



[1]   .  Unlike NKJV (which follows AV and the ‘Received Text’), ESV and NASB leave out verses 44 and 46. NIV includes them with a footnote. No truths here are changed by their omission, although they do emphasise the truths taught in the passage.

[2]   .  John 3:16-18, John 3:36.


Questions on Chapter 32
Mark 9:30-50 Important teaching on important subjects.

A. Why does Jesus often remind the disciples that He must suffer, die and rise again? Why are His death and resurrection so very important?   Mark 9:30-32   Acts 26:22-23   Luke 24:45-47   John 11:49-53   Acts 4:12

B. Why are the disciples shamed into silence at Jesus’ question? What personal ambition should a Christian have?   Mark 9:33-34    Philippians 3:7-10   Matthew 6:33          Matthew 16:24   Philippians 2:3

C. Consider God’s hatred for sin. How will he judge those who sinfully cause His children to suffer? What do the severe illustrations of avoiding sinning teach about how to follow Christ?   Mark 9:42   Mark 9:43-47   Romans 1:18   Romans 12:1-2   Luke 9:23

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