Read Mark 9:30-50
Last night was bittersweet. My son wanted me to show him how to cook one of his favorite meals. That wasn’t the hard part. The hard part came when we started cooking. You see, this recipe is one handed down to me from my Mom. She got it from her Mom, who got it from her Mom… You get the picture. It’s a treasured family favorite. Almost five years have passed since my Mom took her last breath here and first tasted the sweetness of her Heavenly home. Five years of cooking her recipes without her.
I don't know about your Mom, but I can say without a doubt that in my books, my Mom was the best cook around. She was Cajun French and the smells that came from her kitchen were indescribable. Seafood gumbo. Shrimp jambalaya. Red beans and rice. Stewed chicken in a roux (am I making you hungry?). My Mom knew just the right spices to use to bring out the flavor. I’m so thankful that she wrote it all down, for now my son knows too.
Spices in food add zest, add punch, enhance the taste. But that's not all they do. Salt, for instance, is a preservative. It maintains the purity of whatever it’s in. It enhances while maintaining purity. Hmmm… Sounds a lot like the message Jesus is giving us in today's reading.
As we finish Mark’s 9th chapter, we find that Jesus is once again in conversation with His disciples, and once again He's punching up their way of thinking with a little zest of His own. He's doing it by watering down their ambition to be the greatest and lifting up anyone who shows compassion in His name. He’s bringing out the best in them with the flavoring of His Spirit.
The flavoring of the Holy Spirit. Without it, what are we, really? Bland, dull, tasteless soup to a spiritually starving world. Oh, we've tasted His goodness, relished His sweetness. But then when the opportunity arises to share our nourishment, we timidly bottle it up and push it to the farthest corner of our spiritual cupboard. The world needs divine seasoning, and in verse 50, that's just what Jesus said we should be.
Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other. Mark 9:50The qualities of salt. What are they? I did a little checking and found that along with bringing out the food's flavor, salt also penetrates the food, burning out the corruption and stopping the spread of impurities. That’s a lot for one little spice to do. And those are the qualities we must have? It’s a pretty tall order, and spiritually speaking, one we could never fill on our own. But the good news is, we don’t have to. The Master Chef is with us.
These days when I cook, all I have are my Mom’s recipes. No more emergency emails or last-minute phone calls for advice. When I have questions I have to go to the cupboard and open a book, all without her voice to guide me. Not so in life. Yes, we have The Book, God’s Word, to guide us, but we also have so much more. While my Mom is no longer beside me in the kitchen, God’s presence, through His Holy Spirit, is constantly with me, inside me, guiding, encouraging, equipping, speaking to, and inspiring me, in life. And the flavors He brings are far beyond anything I could ever achieve on my own.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22, 23
And news like that… well, it definitely leaves a good taste in your mouth.