What’s Up With That?

Have you had a “what’s up with that” moment in your reading lately? If so, this is your place to share it. Type in the Bible reference and verse in the “Post a Question” tab above, and we’ll do our best to answer what might be up with that. Due to the number of questions submitted, we may not get to every question, but we’ll l try to get to ones that are most common.

The Latest Question …

    In Mark 9:49, Jesus says that "everyone will be salted with fire", after describing the judgment, but then says that salt is good, and we are to have salt among ourselves. What is going on in these verses?

    Great question! I have pondered these verses as well, because they are difficult to understand. Is the salt in 49 connected to the salt in 50? Or is Jesus mixing metaphors, as he sometimes does elsewhere (John 10 for example)? And what does salt have to do with fire?

    Here’s what we can say. Verses 43-48 outline the extreme seriousness of the demands of discipleship. These verses prepare a person to consider the cost of discipleship, and the renunciation that is involved in following Jesus. This is a matter of great sacrifice.

    One interesting parallel passage is in Leviticus 2:13—“With all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Burnt grain offerings were to be accompanied by salt. This is one of the few places other than Mark that combines the idea of salt and fire. Here R.T. France is helpful: “To be ‘salted with fire’ seems then to evoke the imagery of temple sacrifice, but the victims who are ‘salted’ are now the worshipers themselves. Their dedication to the service of their suffering Messiah is like that of a burnt offering, total and irrevocable…The inclusion of the imagery of salt surprises the modern reader, since fire alone would have made this point. But anyone familiar with sacrificial ritual would not find it out of place…In this context it speaks of one who follows Jesus as totally dedicated to God’s service, and warns that such dedication will inevitably be costly in terms of personal suffering.”

    Matt Rusten, Pastor of Spiritual Formation