Pastor’s Corner: “The Millstone and The Cross”

Mark 9:42 (NIV) – Causing to Stumble – 42 “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. 

In this verse, “these little ones” is describing a Christian adult with a childlike faith. The Lord refers not merely to young children who follow Him; “little ones” signifies all believers. Though we grow into maturity as we follow Christ, we remain those who receive Him like a child—from first to last, we cast ourselves absolutely into His care, just as little children wholly depend on their parents for their lives (Matt. 18:1–4). Anyone who causes a growing or humble Christian adult or child to fall into a sin has committed a very great sin.  

Why does Jesus say “it would be better for him if he were thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around his neck”? In the ancient world, a millstone was a stone placed on top of another stone and turned in order to crush grain into flour. The millstone was so heavy that it took several animals to turn it. To be thrown into the sea with a millstone around one’s neck would be certain death. 

Why does Jesus use this terrifying image? To show how much He loves us and what lengths He is willing to go for us. This is not a warning to the church but to the enemy on behalf of His beloved church. It is the very nature of the world (the enemy and unbelievers) to set traps (stumbling blocks) for believers. Men of the world bristle as they witness Christians confessing their faith by word and action. This kind of Christian life is a constant rebuke to their unbelief. But, unbelievers are zealous ‘missionaries’ for their lifestyle. They find no greater pleasure than to win Christians over to their side. 

This passage is a bright shining illustration of God’s promise, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). When it comes to protecting his people, big or small, “He takes His bow out of its case and calls for “many arrows” (Habakkuk 3:9). He defends what is His, and He is furious when his sheep are attacked. This is the God who cares for you, who watches over you as a shepherd, and who laid his life down for you. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).  

The two horrible punishments– the millstone and the cross– stand on both sides of this passage. This is how Almighty God protects you and your faith. The millstone is the warning for anyone who might cause you to stumble, and the cross is the promise for each time you and I do stumble and fall. He has rescued us, and he will carry us home to everlasting life. 

In His Grace, 

Pastor Hamilton