Perhaps the only common thread throughout the stories in Mark 9 is Jesus himself. Certainly three sections here take Jesus closer to the ultimate “transfiguration,” that is, from crucifixion to resurrection (Mark 9:2-8, 9-13, 30-32). These sections are woven into material about the disciples, but Mark’s account does them no favours: they cannot cast out an evil spirit; they do not understand what Jesus says about his death and resurrection; they argue over who is greatest; and they mistakenly try to stop an exorcist because “he was not following us” (9:38). In the end, the disciples merit some strong teaching from Jesus and a warning not to lose their saltiness.
Perhaps we find ourselves in the position of the disciples, feeling we do not understand, we have made mistakes, and we have let Jesus down. Worse, our saltiness may feel distinctly lacking in flavor! Is there hope for us? Can we be restored to full spiritual health? Yes, we can!
The psalmist encourages us to be calm and quiet our souls while putting our hope in God. In the Old Testament reading, Zephaniah offers a fierce prophecy against the enemies of Israel at that ancient time, but he tucks into the prophecy a word of encouragement for all times: “the seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant. …For the Lord their God will be mindful of them and restore their fortunes” (Zephaniah 2:7).
Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, that promise of prosperity to ancient Israel becomes God’s promise of restoration for God’s people in every generation. No matter our mistakes and misunderstandings as disciples of Jesus, God will restore us and make us salty again.
In what ways might have you let Jesus down recently?
What is missing from your life and godly service that you long for God to restore and make salty again?
What agitation and anxiety within you needs calming and quieting?
God of restoration, take my life and let it be reconsecrated in your service. Forgive my faults and correct my misunderstandings. Calm my soul and quiet my mind with your peace that passes all understanding. Above all, restore your Spirit within me that I may be your salt on this earth, through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.