Rabbit Trails That Don’t Make Sense

How do you use “salt” six times in three consecutive sentences to refer to four or five entirely different concepts?

Like this:

For everyone will be salted with fire.
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 9:49-50

There you have it. An utterly confusing rabbit trail of thoughts connected together by various uses of the word, “salt.” Oh, how I love the Bible.

Let’s take this thing one at a time . . .

Everyone will be salted with fireIn context {see previous verses}, Jesus would be referring to the fire of hell. But not everyone will experience eternal judgment. Perhaps he has completely changed the subject to talk about suffering?

Salt is good. Well, if we stick with the “suffering” idea, that works okay. But perhaps we should look ahead to the next phrase, where Jesus seems to have completely changed the subject again to talk about effectiveness.

If the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Matthew adds, “You are the salt of the earth” (5:13). So the question asked is perhaps – If we, the salt, lose our effectiveness as Christians, how can we possibly regain it?

Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. So . . . effectiveness? Or are we back to suffering? Or, according to Col 4:6, maybe it has something to do with our speech? Whatever it is, apparently the next step is peace with one another . . .

Weeks of study, brainstorming, and discussion, and this is where I am, folks.

Feel free to join me in the journey by commenting below!

In the meantime, I’ll sit here amazed {for some odd reason} that Jesus goes off on rabbit trails that don’t make sense.

 [image credit: unsplash.com]

10 thoughts on “Rabbit Trails That Don’t Make Sense

  1. Hi Lydia-thanks for sending me the link. Interestingly, my Bible (NLT) has the word tested instead of salted in the first verse (v. 49). Something additional to think about now! Thanks for your thoughts. I think the salted/tested line is interesting too-maybe Jesus is talking about how we sin and are tested but then can still be the salt (flavoring) of this world as well. Love how Jesus makes us think!


    1. Well, I’m pretty sure the NLT is not a word-for-word translation, so there’s a little more interpretation involved there. But, yes, “tested” is an interesting thought! If you look at the original Greek words, “salted” in vs 49 is only a slightly different form of the word “salt” in vs 50. So the meaning should be about the same for all of those. But I can see how, when it says, “salted with fire,” that maybe the “fire” idea brings about the perspective of “testing.”
      That was really technical and probably confusing! But thanks for exploring this passage with me. I just love how we ended up writing about these “salt” passages at the same time!


  2. Hmmmm, this has got me contemplating the context and meaning of salt in a whole new way. It’s funny how you can read scripture over and over again but suddenly its context and meaning can completely change!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.


    1. Yes! Though I would say that it’s not the Bible’s meaning that changes, but our perception of it that changes. But yes, when I read slowly, think carefully, and don’t breeze through familiar passages, it’s amazing what new questions and thoughts will come about!


  3. Hi Lydia,
    Love your observation of Jesus going down rabbit trails that don’t make sense! Isn’t that just like him though? The absolute beauty and diversity of his teachings and the methods he used to model how our lives should be lived is stunning. Enjoyed my visit here today!


  4. Jesus/the Bible uses language in the exact same way than we do. We shouldn’t imagine one word can have only one meaning. Language is rich and real and alive and the Bible is just like that! He can use “salted” to mean sprinkled think a salt shaker and then “salt” as a metaphor in the very next sentence. It can be a real puzzle to read His thoughts after Him 2,000 years later! Thanks for tackling this head on!

    Liked by 1 person

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