Thursday, December 5, 2013

Notes on Mark: The Millstone

MARK 9:41-42
Think of just how small the kindness is that Jesus is talking about here. And if you want to know how seriously he takes leading people astray, just see what Barclay has to say about the size of that millstone!
Any kindness shown, any help given, to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. The reason for helping is that the person in need belongs to Jesus. Every man in need has a claim upon us because he is dear to Christ. Had Jesus still been here in the flesh he would have helped that man in the most practical way and the duty of help has devolved on us. It is to be noted how simple the help is. The gift is a cup of cold water. We are not asked to do great things for others, things beyond our power. We are asked to give the simple things that any man can give...

But the converse is also true. To help is to win the eternal reward. To cause a weaker brother to stumble is to win the eternal punishment. The passage is deliberately stern. The mill-stone that is mentioned is a great millstone. There were two kinds of mills in Palestine. There was the hand-mill that the women used in the house. And there was the mill whose stone was so great that it took an ass to turn it.

The mill-stone here is literally an ass's mill-stone. To be cast into the sea with that attached was certainly to have no hope of return. This was in fact a punishment and a means of execution both in Rome and Palestine...
The Gospel of Mark
(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)

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