Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mark 9:41 comment: a simple act, a simple message

41 ¶ For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

While this is quite applicable to us spiritually, in this age, there is no man who can give a Christian a cup of water in Christ’s name who will be saved because of that work if he rejects Christ. But, here, a man is going to get a reward and not lose it for giving a cup of water to one of these Jewish apostles in Christ’s name.

It is interesting to note here the mention of not losing a reward. Think about this. In the verses before Christ has said not to stop a man who was not one of their company from doing miracles in Christ’s name. Here He talks about giving an Apostle a drink in Christ’s name. What reward is He talking about?

Much of the time in the Bible a reward is spoken of as a gift in exchange for something like loyalty or faithfulness. Take for instance, in this verse in 2 Samuel you recompense somebody with a reward.

2Samuel 19:36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?

Jeremiah is given a reward along with food (victuals).

Jeremiah 40:5 Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.

So, in these two instances, a reward is gift. In its first mention in the Bible God is Abraham’s reward.

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

In the New Testament as well it appears to be a gift in return for faithfulness.

Matthew 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

Several times in the Gospels a reward is mentioned. It would seem odd that mention is made of not losing one’s reward as if that was a danger. This is before the resurrection. He’s talking to Jews. The Jews were expecting physical blessings, a powerful kingdom, success and prosperity for belonging to God, for being His chosen people. They had heard the promises and they all knew from history how far Israel had fallen.

But, Christ introduces something new to their ears, to their understanding. Even a simple act of seemingly meaningless kindness to one of the Apostles doing Christ’s work would keep a Jew in God’s good graces. Even something as small as a cup of water in Christ’s name to one of Christ’s was enough for them to be in good standing with God. There is no demand for a great work, an expensive offering, an amazing feat of self sacrifice. There is only the promise that even a small act of kindness is good enough.

Think of the simplicity of Christ’s message. Remember, how He tells the Jews, how He defines what it means to work the works of God and how simple that is.

John 6;28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

You say, that doesn’t seem right. It’s too simple. It’s not complicated enough. Where is the spirituality garnered by spiritual exercises of the Medieval monk? What of the great soulwinners who labored for years to bring in thousands of converts? What about the great pulpiteers who could, like a Sophist of Greek times, make you cry or laugh with a word and drive men and women to their knees with a turn of a phrase?

And I say what about the common man or woman or child who doesn’t have the gift of making bright speeches and turning clever phrases, who works and lives and has no great vision of a ministry that encompasses the world?

Paul uses the term “good works” here in reference to an act of kindness. See how he refers to treating widows.

1 Timothy 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

And charity, which here is defined as that step just above brotherly kindness which is brotherly love or the active love of compassion a Christian is supposed to have for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

2 Peter 1:5 ¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a whole chapter on this in 1 Corinthians 13 that could not be about charity as in just dropping a coin in the Salvation Army bucket as per verse 3 of that chapter, and keep in mind Christ’s command in John 13:34, 35.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And so now I would say to you angry modern, and often paranoid and fearful Christians what Paul said;

2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

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