26th April 2023
Read - Mark 9:42
Message Alan Burke
There was a time that a Miller would have played an important part in any community, you grew your wheat and you took it to the Miller to mill it into flower often in exchange for a portion of your four. The millstone that the grain is put between can be set to produce various degrees of flour, from fine to course. But the millstone itself until relatively recently was a beast of a thing. I’ve seen old ones in farm yard and I’ll tell you this, I have no hope of moving one of them. What we are told here is that if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around their neck. The Greek word trialled as little ones means not children but of importance Jesus is talking about the average believer.
The Alan Burke paraphrase would be; “Whoever causes the ordinary believer in the pew 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.”
The warning to the disciples if anyone causes the ordinary believers in the pew to sin is grim, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large milestone tied around his neck. Remember who is Jesus talking to, who are the audience, well it is the Twelve as v35 makes clear.
Now the imagery here firstly of sea. All of us like a wee trip to the north coast, get a ninety-nine which cost like £63 today and go for a wee paddle. The sea to us on a hot summers day in July is beautiful. For the Jews the sea was always a symbol of destruction, of tumult. It is a metaphor for wrath, of destruction, of chaos.
The millstone like the ones that I have seen in farmyards is a beast of a thing, so large that it couldn’t be pushed by a man, there is but one exception recorded in Scripture and that is of Samson who after his eyes were gouged out was set to grind grain in the prison (Jud 16:21). Normally this work was taken a pair or more of donkeys attached with a long leaver to turn the millstone. Jesus says it would be better for you to have a large milestone, so large you’re not going to be able to lift it or turn it, tied round your neck and for you to be thrown into the sea a place of wrath, of destruction, of chaos.
Remember the context Jesus was warning his disciples, he had just warned the disciples about stoping someone casting out demons in his name and then about the reward for those who do something as simple as give a drink in his name (v41). What we are being taught with the contrasting statements is that whatever is done to a follower of Jesus, whether that be for good with something that seems as insignificant as giving a drink or for bad causing the ordinary believer in the pew to sin may as well be done to Jesus himself.
The children of God are loved by him, and especially terrifying is the consequences for those who lead them astray, lead them into sin, because of just how precious believers are in the sight of God and it is reason enough for us all to be careful in our words as well as our conduct incase we cause or lead others to sin.
Q30 How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, (Eph. 1:13–14, John 6:37–39, Eph. 2:8) and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. (Eph. 3:17, 1 Cor. 1:9)