Reading chapters 9 & 10 together, there are a few repeating themes. Jesus tells his disciples3 times that they are not to worry about who is the greatest. He tells about his own death 3 times and he tells his disciples to be like children twice. He does 2 miracles and answers 2 questions about the law. This collection of stories seemed unrelated to me at first, but the end of chapter 9 helped provide a uniting theme. Jesus tells his disciples to “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”. Salt in this context is closely related to the idea of purity, which fits with vs. 49 (salted with fire/purified by fire). Verse 50 helps define what purity is– being purely one thing, not corrupted or diluted by anything else. The disciples had been corrupted by being concerned with who was the greatest or who is “with” them or not with them; the rich man diluted his love for God by loving his possessions; the father of the boy with a demon diluted his faith with unbelief; hardened hearts in Moses’ time diluted God’s purpose for marriage. All of this un-purity is contrasted with the purity of the transfiguration, the children Jesus welcomes, the blind man’s pure faith and belief, Jesus’s teaching to get rid of any corruption in ourselves (9:42-50) and finally his repeated explanation of his purpose and his sole focus on it, despite the physical pain and shame. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45) succinctly states Jesus’s mission and the context in which he states this implies that we are here to serve others too.
I want to get rid of anything that is corrupting me or diluting my faith. I want to have a pure focus on loving God and loving others by serving both. Anytime that I feel challenged to change my behavior, attitudes, perspectives, etc., I try to define why I want to change my behavior so that I do not start to think that I can save myself by my own deeds. Being pure will not save me or make God love me more, but it is a response to the love he has shown me. It is the best I can offer him. It will also cause others to see how great God is and bring unity among fellow purity seekers (“be at peace with one another”). And it will bring me closer to him and make me love him more.