Ye Belong to Christ
Scripture Reading, Mark 9: 33-50
The Lord Jesus, in this passage, teaches the standard of character expected in those that belong to Him. The key to this entire portion is found in the expression, “Ye belong to Christ” (V. 41).
We are redeemed by His precious blood, therefore, are His own peculiar possession. This New Testament truth is typified by the redemption of the first-born from the bondage of Egypt through the blood of the pascal lamb sprinkled upon the door. The Lord said of Israel’s first-born, of both man and beast, “It is Mine” (Ex. 13:2).
Similarly, in the cleansing of the leper (Lev. 14), the anointing of the different members of his body with blood and oil signified that his cleansed members were to be used for God.
May our hearts acknowledge, in the language of the Psalmist, “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant;… Thou hast loosed my bonds” Psa. 116:16).
Let us notice some of the evidences which prove that we belong to Christ.
“He (Jesus) took a child, and set him in the midst of them” (V. 36).
How this must have shamed the quarrelling ambitious disciples, as under the shadow of His cross, they strove about who should be the greatest among them. Any aspiring to be emminent is contrary to the spirit of Christ Who made Himself of no reputation.
Jesus teaches His own that true greatness is to have a child-like mind to serve and not to be served. Humility has characterized the holiest of God’s saints throughout every age. All the men whom God has used in His service: Abraham, Job, David, Daniel, and Paul were truly humble men. This grace is available to every child of God. A knowledge of the holy character of God, and an apprehension of the wonders of the redemptive work of Christ, should keep us from pride, and should produce in us that humility which is one of the true marks of those who belong to Christ.
David in one of his psalms of thanksgiving says to the Lord, “Thy gentleness hath made me great” (11 Sam. 22: 36).
Gentleness was abundantly manifest in the life of Christ. He was gentle in His attitude toward children as well as in His dealings with needy souls. How gentle He was in His binding up the wounds that sin had made, in His compassion toward the broken-hearted, in His drying the tears of the sorrowful ones! He has exhorted us, saying, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls” (Matt. 11:29). If, as good scholars, we obey our Teacher, the gentleness that was so manifest in Him as Master will be seen in us.
The words of the Lord on this occasion intimate that Christians ought to be kind. Said He, “Whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (V. 41).
There are opportunities every day to show kindness to His beloved people. Little things which seem trivial to the natural man are of inestimable value in the eyes of the Lord. The giving of a cup of cold water to one who belongs to Christ is of more value than the service which is considered great in the eyes of men.
On the Day of Christ, when our service is reviewed at His Judgment Seat, He will remind us that, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matt. 25:40).
Let us strive to be kind for His sake, and thus prove that we belong to Christ.
The disciples found a man doing work in the name of Christ, but he did not belong to their immediate circle. Since he was accomplishing his work in the name of the Lord, he must have been a disciple. Nevertheless, the twelve forbad him, “Because,” said they, “he followeth not us.”
For their zeal they apparently expected a commendation from the Lord, but instead, He replied, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our part” (Vv. 39-40). What a rebuke to their intolerance, bigotry, and sectarian narrowness!
Let us not judge other people’s service because they do not exactly fit into our ideas. They probably are making some contribution to the cause of Christ. In the Book of Judges, chapter 12, we have a sad exhibition of the bigotry that led to the strife between the men of Gilead and the men of Ephraim.
Because the men of Ephraim could not pronounce the party “Shibboleth,” they were slain at the passage of the river Jordan. What a pity! How sad that these men of Israel were found fighting against their own brethren rather than against the enemy, but such is the evil of envy and malignity in the human heart.
It was a sad day in the history of Israel when the children of Israel used the sword the one against the other. Happy indeed would it be, if the history of “Shibboleths” had ended then! Unfortunately, its pernicious influence is felt in various forms to the present day. The Master alone is able to judge properly our service for Him; therefore, it behooves us, instead of judging one another, to judge ourselves in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Undoubtedly, the Lord will find something in all His servants to commend, for we read, “Then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor. 4:5).
Let us be careful not to do anything that will stumble others in their spiritual life. Our sanctified members are not to cause offences. “Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe on Me,” said the Lord Jesus, “it is better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter life maimed … If thy foot offend thee, cut it off … If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.”
The hand suggests what we do; the foot, where we go; the eye, what we look at. These very things may be an offence to others.
Those who belong to Christ have a desire to eliminate from their lives all the things that hinder growth in themselves and in their fellow-believers; therefore, we should deal faithfully with ourselves, but never offend our brother. We must deal with sin in ourselves in a radical way and cut it off. Another has said, “Pain is preferable to sin.” The stern condemnation of Christ expressed against those who offend (V. 42) should produce in us carefulness lest any of His “little ones” be stumbled by our actions.
The Lord Jesus closed His remarks on this occasion with the statement, “Salt is good: … Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” Elsewhere He told His own “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13).
As salt possesses a purifying influence that preserves from corruption, so those who belong to Christ possessing the divine nature, should by their life and testimony check the corruption in the sphere where God has put them. Furthermore, salt creates thirst; therefore, the testimony of the believer should produce a thirst in others to know the Lord Jesus. Salt, in like manner, contributes to taste and flavour making things palatable; similarly, the true follower of the Master, by his Christian joy and character, attracts others to Christ.
“If the salt have lost his savour, … it is thenceforth good for nothing” (Matt. 5:13). How sad! Think of a Christian, because of his unlikeness to Christ, being good for nothing. May the Lord give us grace, and grace abundant, so that we may prove by our lives that we belong to Christ, and so that many others may be attracted to our beloved Lord Jesus.