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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Mark 144 - Stumbling



“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.


Mark 9:42


Today, there’s no such thing as sin. You might have a problem, a weakness, an addiction. It might be wrong, it might be questionable, it might even be objectionable. It’s not that you’re bad, it’s just the uninformed opinion of someone else making a claim that we did something wrong.


After all, there’s no such thing as good or bad, right, or wrong. You have no right to criticize anyone for what they do or say. It’s like what Dave Mason[1] sang about in We Just Disagree.


So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye

There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy

There's only you and me and we just disagree


We are to be completely accepting and tolerant of everyone, anyone. No matter what they’re doing. What they’re saying. That is unless it disagrees with what you think is right, and then that’s a completely different kettle of fish.


Besides that, you are not responsible for anything that might be questionable, objectionable, harmful to yourself or others. Your upbringing, your environment, your DNA, your education are the reason for the way you are. And this removes any accountability. You’re free to do whatever you want. Whenever you want. With whoever you want.


As modern, inclusive, and enlightened as this may sound, it runs completely counter to what Jesus says in these few words. He doesn’t mince any words. He’s not shy about it. He’s not trying to give a way out, or speak subtlety.


Anyone who causes people to stumble are in for a very rough time of it. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. And that response by God, with all its punishment and wrath, will be severe.


Jesus isn’t talking about an innocent accident that could not be foreseen or prevented. When you cause someone to stumble, it’s not an accident. It’s deliberate. You are purposefully putting something in someone’s way with the intent of tripping them. You’re setting a trap of all the right circumstances, drawing them in. You also put just the right kind of bait to attract them into the trap.


Growing up around the Chesapeake Bay, we’d go out crabbing. It was great fun and I’d so look forward to going. And the rewards were eating steamed crabs. Words fail me to describe what that’s like.


But the one thing you know about crabbing is that you need bait to attract the crabs. But the bait wasn’t anything close to being something that you’d consider appetizing or attractive. Chicken necks and backs were favorites. Not just any chicken necks and backs, but the older the better. The greater the stink, the more crabs you were to surely attract.


It didn’t have to be attractive to us, it had to be attractive to the crabs. Bait attracts its prey, not necessarily those seeking the prey.


There’s no negotiating with Jesus when it comes to causing someone to stumble. The opposite side of Jesus’ equation is having a millstone put around their neck and thrown into the sea. This was the ancient version of having cement shoes. Or, when Peter Clemenza[2] in The Godfather says that “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.” In either case, it was a horrible and certain death.


We don’t like to talk about the “wages” or cost of our actions, but there’s a certainty and finality about Jesus words. Yes, there can be forgiveness. Yes, there can be restoration. Yes, there can be a new life. And we thank God, celebrating this great and gracious truth.


But there is an equally certain truth that can give us great hope. That God, the one who made us, the one who loves us, is the one who died for us to take his anger and our punishment on himself.


Think about that for a serious moment. We had gone into an eternal debt in front of a holy and righteous God. Our actions ultimately are an offense to and against God. God rightly demanded justice to be paid. We deserved it. We had earned it one selfish and hateful act at a time. But we couldn’t pay the price.


So, since we couldn’t do it, he did it.


And that’s the grace and genius of God.

[1] https://youtu.be/b2ff8qXa248?t=50 [2] https://youtu.be/V7RMKq8RQj4

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