For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9


READINGS:  Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29 Psalm 104: 27-35  James 5: 13–20 Mark 9:38–50

The Lord’s concern in response to the disciples’ question about the man casting out demons in Christ’s Name is like Moses’ response about Eldad and Medad receiving the Holy Spirit outside the Tent of Meeting:  Would that all people be prophets and the Lord’s Spirit be upon them! The Lord’s will is all people to be saved in the sheer gift of Himself to know Him and love Him and love our neighbors aright. 

“As a true servant of God, who was not jealous for his own honor, but desired only the extension of God’s influence and power, Moses wished only for a further extension of the Lord’s gift of grace. A little more of this same Spirit in our days would help to solve many of the problems of the Church.” (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

The Lord’s solution of political problems is not pastors, ministers and priests offering political solutions to people who suffer from the spiritual problem of sin.  The Lord’s solution is salvation in teaching and preaching Christ, His Cross, His resurrection and ascension, His Word of Law and Promise. Not a pope nor a president telling us pollution is bad, or abortion for that matter, but God’s Word and teaching thus sayeth the Lord from the  Bible.  The greatest apostolic ministry is not first casting out demons, that is, rare, but receiving a cup of water because, beloved in the Lord, “you belong to Christ”.  You belong to Christ. This means the person giving the cup of water to one of Jesus’ own, is beginning to believe through the grace of God in, through and with His Son Jesus Christ and that is quite a reward.

The one who has given the apostle a cup of cold water because He belongs to Christ, one of the little ones, like the child Jesus enfolded into His arms, and so Jesus is clear:  the greatest sin is to cause him or her believing in Christ to sin. So solemnly in a three-fold repetition

If your hand causes you to sin …

If your foot causes you to sin …

If you your eye causes you to sin

“Causes you to sin” in Greek is root of our word scandal, which was something that  causes you to stumble, into sin.  Now it is clear my hand does not think nor does the eye nor does the foot.  Oh, my hand hit you, now hand apologize and cut it out. That’s an absurdity as is sin.  Jesus knows what needs to be cut out.  He already taught earlier in chapter 7 the defilement comes out of the heart:  “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, etc.”.   Cut it out. Arduously keeping the Law of God will cut out some outward behaviors, which is good, but the heart condition remains. The Lord by His Law shows us the true source of the offense:  the heart, that is, the will.  He has cut out the blockages of sin and death and hell.  He cut it out in His Body upon the Cross. Salt stings in order to preserve.

“Christ here mentions some other members that are very apt to offend, to commit sin, to lead others into sin. The law of sin is always active in our members. Here it is necessary that a person keep these members in subjection. For the Lord speaks figuratively and does not want to be understood, as Luther says, that He here advocates physical mutilation or dismemberment, since that would obviously not take the sin and the desire to sin out of the heart. It is the heart which must be controlled by the spirit of love toward Christ and our neighbor, in order that the hand, the foot, the eye do not perform that which sin desires them to do.”  (From The Popular Commentary (1924), by Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Lutheran Pastor and Scholar)

Cutting it off is called confession, cutting it out to be healed in His forgiveness. His Word like a surgeon’s scalpel cuts to heal. “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;  There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.” The costly balm is Christ’ blood.

Churches have greatly watered down the Word of God to make it palatable for ourselves and the results have been disastrous, tolerating all sorts of sin, as in marriage, thus causing one of the little ones who believe in Christ to sin. Look at what the rampant sexual immorality of our time has cost children in divorce, abuse, pornography…and so let’s water down the saltiness of the Law of God  which mean  no repentance, no return to the Lord your God for He is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Still:  “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul”.

Jesus is clear:  the result is hell, where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. We have watered down hell.   Hell has been watered down for people who don’t believe it, but note that it is still in full force for someone I don’t like! Then the belief is quite strong!  Hell is not merely fictional frightening children’s tale to scare, “…rather, they are true reason publicly proclaimed with a straightforward voice.” (St. Basil).    Hell is where the stink of putrefying sin always feeds the worms, the maggots.  Such is a world which harvests aborted infants’ body parts, commits genocide, beheads Christians and others, says nothing to “hooking-up”, or getting ahead at all costs using people is okay, its called being a “winner”.  Hell is a Biblical doctrine.  The Lord wants no one in hell, but all to be saved and come to the knowledge of Christ.

The list of ingredients on a food package always begin in descending order with  ingredient that is the most and salt is not usually the main ingredient.  In the Church, and proclaimed throughout the world, the main ingredient is the Name of Jesus Christ for us and our salvation.  When salt becomes more important than the main ingredient then there are problems.  When our theological solutions become more important than Christ our Lord, not interpreting truly the Scriptures, the Word of God, then men follow manmade doctrines such as the office of the pope, as the head of the church. He’s not, Christ is, as the Bible makes clear.  During the Pope’s visit, they had a canonization Mass in D.C.  As one reporter said, The pope made a new saint today.  No, he did not, most emphatically, none of the 266 popes ever made a saint.  The church does not make saints, Christ Jesus does.  The saints in Christ are His baptized, His little ones, not the great ones.  Salt does not make salt. The Lord does.  You are the salt of the earth. Not you should be, you must be, you can be, or we’ll make you salt.  You ARE.  Not by your doing, nor your works, but by the gracious work and word of Jesus Christ, whose we are, is who we are.    

The lesson ends with Jesus speaking of salt.  He did this early, Matthew 5:  Y’all are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost it’s saltiness what is it good, except to be thrown out and trampled on by men.  Funny thing though:  salt, sodium chloride, is quite the stable compound and does not lose it’s saltiness.  You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant  with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. Leviticus 2: 13.  The Lord’s covenant, His testaments, old and new endure as salt, stable.  His promises fulfilled in Christ are there, His Word for us and for our salvation.  The very Word wounded for our sin.

Salt is a cheap grocery item in our day, but not back in the time of Christ.  Salty ocean water had to dry out and the salt gathered which could be filled with impurities. The impurities would dissipate the saltiness of salt and so salt loses is saltiness and becomes worthless.   So does the  impurities of  false doctrine, and unrepentant sin.

“Where the salt loses its saltiness, and the Gospel is spoiled with doctrines of men, there the old Adam no longer can be spiced, there the worms will grow. But salt is sharp; therefore it is necessary to have patience and peace in the salt.” (Martin Luther)

And sayeth the Lord, “ You will be salted with fire:   the fire of His Law and judgment, the fire of His mercy for sinners the fire of the Holy Spirit purging and renewing His Church;  the fire of His love for you and our neighbors to know the peace of God surpassing  human understanding.  His Word is our salt, preserving and flavoring our lives, making us thirsty for the draught of His Baptism and His Word. The word “salary” comes from the Latin for “salt”.  Roman soldiers received a stipend for salt.  My Dad told me that in the army, part of the rations was a salt tablet because it was indispensable to stay alive and keep on going.  His Word is the salt of the testament in Jesus. Have this salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another, the salt of the new and everlasting covenant in His Body and Blood. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Quote of the Day

“Pure doctrine calls for and creates pure lives. This does not mean that we would overleap the church militant and seek to establish the church triumphant here and now, and make a “pure” church, such as cannot exist this side of the Parousia, the condition and criterion of unity. The church in this aeon is a pure church and has pure doctrine when it knows that it is made up of sinners under the forgiveness of God in Christ; it is translating pure doctrine into practice when it calls sin sin and summons the sinner to repentance, and forgives him with divine authority and without measure or restraint. The church leaves no repentant sinner outside her full fellowship; and she cannot include the man who prefers his sin to that fellowship. – by Rev. Prof. Martin Franzmann, Lutheran: “The Nature of the Unity We Seek”, 1957

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Reading:  The Book of Jonah

About Jonah:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria(Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew12:39-41). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House;  for more on Jonah go here.)


We simply stand under God’s overflowing grace like rain, allowing its cool refreshment to fill our dry cracks. Then we pick up the bucket and dump it on someone else. Grace flows from Yahweh not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it. But Jonah is like the angry older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:28-30): he views God’s lavish welcome for undeserving sinners who repent as an insult to his “deserving” self. The prophet has yet to embrace the Law and Gospel character of God expressed in James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (From Dr. Reed Lesssing’s Commentary on Jonah)

Jesus made a comparison between Himself and Jonah when He was asked for sign, see St. Matthew 12: 38-42.   Here are some more details of a comparison between Jesus and Jonah.

Jonah ran away and the Lord ran to His people.

Jonah ran away twice.   The Lord never runs away and He sought Jonah twice, as He sought Adam, you, more than twice.

The Lord put Jonah in the belly of the great fish because Jonah refused to preach repentance to Ninevah. The Lord was put in the belly of great fish, death, “the heart of the earth”, because He preached repentance.

The Lord heard Jonah cry out in prayer in the belly of the great fish  to be saved and he was heard. The Lord cried out, not for His salvation (as He did not need to), but ours and He was heard:  “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The Lord punished Jonah in the belly of the great fish. The Lord took on the punishment which He did not deserve, the chastisement of us all, that makes us whole (cf. Isaiah 53).  He was not punished for His sin, for He had none, but He became sin.

The Lord called Jonah to preach His Word. The Lord is the Word made flesh (St. John 1: 14), God’s own sermon to us all and in particular in His three nights in the heart of  the earth, preaching our salvation by faith through His grace through the Word of His blood (cf.Hebrews 12:24).

The Lord caused the great fish to spew Jonah out of the belly of the great fish. The Lord laid down His life to take it up again and death could not hold Him (John 10:18).

Jonah was disappointed and angry that the Ninevites repented and that the Lord did not destroy themJesus rejoices that so many came to faith and He sent out His apostles with the message of the Kingdom of God.

Jonah was swallowed by the great fish. Jesus swallowed up death itself.

 Behold, something greater than Jonah is here!  Allelulia!

Cartoon of the Day


None of the other evangelists described the history of the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew.

Originally posted on Concordia and Koinonia:

Prayer of the Day:

O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About St. Matthew: 

St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired…

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Quote of the Week

“I think instead of ‘In remembrance of Me’ being carved on altars it would be awesome to have, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

-Pastor Gaven Mize, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hickory, North Carolina


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