Daily Devotional for August 14
August 14 Mark 9:42-50
In this passage, Mark presents us with a collection of the sayings
of Jesus, beginning with a harsh challenge about sin and con-
cluding with three seemingly unrelated sayings about salt.
Taken together, however, this passage forms a natural parable
about two alternative life options for the believer.
While salt was used in ancient times as a seasoning much as
it is today, its primary use was as a preservative. Without salt,
meats and prepared foods spoiled within hours. By analogy,
Jesus calls his listeners to preserve their lives in a zesty, flavorful
way just as food is preserved by salt.
What is this salt of which Jesus speaks? It is described in these
sayings as possessing an inherent preserving quality which
purifies our lives and draws us closer to God and others.
Clearly, this is not merely an additive to our lives, but
something that should be inherent in our way of life. The salty,
zestful life is the life lived in the awareness of the Spirit of
God dwelling within and around us, an awareness built on our
personal relationship with God and nurtured through prayer
The alternative to this preserved life is likened to the
smoldering fire of Gehenna. While we often equate Gehenna
with Hell, Gehenna is actually another name for the Valley
of Hinnom, a smoldering garbage dump outside of Jerusalem
which had been the place of idolatry and infanticide during
prophetic times. The smoldering fire of Gehenna, with its
worms that never die, is clearly the epitome of decay.
The mandate of Jesus is therefore clear: do those things
necessary to preserve a zesty and godly life and remove from
your life those things that are the roots of dissipation and
decay. In sum, season your life with that which enables you
to live in communion with God and at peace with others.
From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle
Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.C.1989