And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.…
— Mark 16:17,18
In yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, I mentioned a religious group in the remote hills of some states that “takes up serpents” and passes them around the congregation to demonstrate the strength of their faith. They believe that if their faith is strong, they will not be bitten. And if they are bitten, they use this as an opportunity to prove that a snake bite will have no effect on them.
But in Mark 16:18, Jesus went on to say, “…and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them….” Based on these words, this sincerely misled group also deliberately drinks deadly poisons, such as strychnine and arsenic. Just as they take up venomous snakes to prove the strength of their faith, they intentionally subject themselves to deadly poisons for the same purpose. They actually believe Jesus intended for Christians to consume lethal chemicals to prove that when their faith is strong, such substances will have no effect on them. But is this really what Jesus meant? Let’s look at this verse to see what Jesus was talking about!
The word “drink” is actually the Greek word pino, which means to drink or to consume. Although this word usually refers to drinking, it can also picture a person who is consuming something, such as meat or some other kind of food. The word “deadly” comes from the Greek word thanasimos, a derivative of the word thanatos, which is the Greek word for death. However the word used here in Mark 16:18 describes something that is deadly or fatal. The word “any” is the small word ti, which means anything. This means that Jesus wasn’t referring only to liquid chemicals, but to anything that is deadly or fatal, including chemicals or foods. Hence, this part of the verse could be translated, “…and if they consume anything that would normally be fatal.…”
Jesus continued by saying that if a believer consumes something fatal while he is on a God-sent trip, this fatal substance “shall not hurt them.” The word “hurt” is the Greek word blapto, which means to weaken, to disable, to hurt, to harm, or to injure. It depicts something that is probably not powerful enough to kill, but strong enough to make one sick or ill. Because the word thanasimos (“deadly thing”) is also used in this verse, it tells us that Jesus meant this: “…and if they consume anything that would normally be fatal, or anything that would usually make a person sick, it will have no effect upon them.…”
Remember that Jesus was speaking to followers whom He was going to send to the farthest ends of the world. To fulfill this assignment, they would be required to eat foods they had never seen before. In fact, their journeys to pagan lands would no doubt necessitate that they eat foods they previously considered to be dirty or unclean. For them to take the Gospel to new places meant they would have to eat “mystery food” — not knowing where it came from, who killed it, how long it had been dead, who cooked it, how clean or dirty the kitchen was in which it was cooked, or what effect the food was going to have on their stomachs.
Remember, the Lord had previously told His disciples, “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give…eat such things as are set before you” (Luke 10:7,8). If the disciples had rejected what their hosts had prepared for them, they could have greatly insulted or hurt them. Therefore, Jesus said in effect, “If your hosts have prepared the best they can give you, eat it with joy!”
As one who travels worldwide, I can personally tell you that sometimes it is difficult to eat what is set before you! But when you look into a plate of food that looks scary, you must shut your eyes, bless that mess in Jesus’ name, lift your fork from the plate, open your mouth, insert, and eat the “mystery food” by faith!
I’ve seen individuals come on mission trips expecting to eat the identical kinds of food they eat at home. When they discover they can’t have the same food, the same restaurants, the same blend of coffee, and so on, I’ve seen them get very upset. But they’re not at home! They are on the other side of the world where those kinds of foods don’t even exist! If a person is going to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, he must be prepared to eat food that is prepared at the ends of the earth!
This is precisely the reason Jesus told His soon-to-be world travelers that if they consumed anything deadly or sickening, it would have no effect on them. Jesus wasn’t encouraging His disciples to deliberately consume poison; rather, He was assuring them of the divine protection that is available for those who take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
But as noted earlier (see July 7), this promise belongs to “those who believe.” If you want this promise of protection from bad foods or fatal substances, you must release your faith and activate this promise. So before you sit down to eat, take a few minutes to bless that food. Call it sanctified, and speak nutrition and health into it. Then eat the food, believing that it will only bless you and that nothing negative can happen to you as a result of eating it!
Jesus provided everything needed for those of us who would follow His call to the ends of the earth. He provided us with supernatural protection from disasters, calamities, snakes, scorpions, and all the works of the enemy. He also promised traveling mercies and protection from acts of injustice. He even guaranteed that if we accidentally consume bad foods or deadly substances, they wouldn’t weaken us physically or injure our health.
It’s time for you to quit worrying and start believing that Jesus meant what He said. If God is giving you an assignment that takes you to a foreign state, a distant country, or an unfamiliar culture, just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and get going! God isn’t going to send you somewhere so you can eat something deadly and die! Rebuke that spirit of fear, and release your faith! Don’t let the devil keep you trapped at home because you’re afraid you won’t like the food. The Gospel and the power of God is much stronger than any meat or drink!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for giving me the courage to go wherever You want me to go. I rebuke fear; I reject intimidation; and I decide by faith that I can do anything and go anywhere Jesus wants to send me. Holy Spirit, fill me with Your power and help me think with a sound mind! There’s so much that Jesus has for me to do, and I don’t want to waste a single minute. Thank You for helping and strengthening me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I boldly declare that I am protected from bad foods or fatal substances! When I sit down to eat, I take a few minutes to bless my food. I call it sanctified; I speak nutrition and health into it; and then I eat it, believing that it will only bless and strengthen my body. Jesus has provided supernatural protection from disasters, calamities, snakes, scorpions, and all the works of the enemy. He promised me traveling mercies and protection from acts of injustice. God isn’t going to send me somewhere so I can die! I rebuke the spirit of fear — and I press forward into the divine life of Jesus Christ!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How do you think people in other nations are affected when after preparing their best food for their guests, they watch the guests turn up their noses and act like the food is so disgusting that they cannot consume it?
2. Do you pray over your food before you eat?
3. How does today’s Sparkling Gem affect what you are going to do in the future concerning food that has been prepared for you?