19th April 2023
Read - Mark 9:38-41
Message Alan Burke
In the midst of Jesus turning the perceived ideas of the disciples on their head when it came to who is the greatest in the kingdom, John then says to Jesus; “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (V38). The ‘we’ in John’s comment makes it clear that while John spoke that he had not acted alone in stoping this man, it is the disciples as a whole who as a group who took action. What John says does not deny that the individual in question was part of the extended followers of Jesus, rather the issue here for John and others is that this man was not part of the twelve, he wasn’t one of them.
The irony is in all of this is that the man whom they had told to stop was successful in casting out the demons in the name of Jesus where they had failed. Look back to 9:18 where the account of the healing of a boy with an evil spirit. There the disciples themselves had failed to drive out the demon from the boy, they had been given the power to do so but had failed in their task but this man whom they had stopped did not fail and as a result they had taken it upon themselves to stop this man who had success.
John and the rest of the disciples were not concerned whether this man knew Jesus, they were not concerned with his relationship with Jesus, it was just that this man wasn’t one of them so they stoped him from doing what he was doing. To what John has just said Jesus responds and no doubt it would have taken them by surprise, for Jesus says “Do not stop him (39). Then Jesus tells them; “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us”.
For Jesus the issue revolves around not the perceived exclusiveness that the twelve viewed themselves with, rather it is around his name and the power of his name and who belong to his name. If the man who cast out the demons was not a follower of Jesus and he’d never met him, sooner or later he would have understood the power of the name of Jesus and therefore whom Jesus is. This is the point that Jesus himself makes to the John and the rest of the disciples. How can anyone who sees lives transformed by the power of Jesus name say anything bad about him or speak evil of him. The man casting out demons would have seen first hand the power of Jesus, no matter his motivation he enabled by the power of Jesus name to stand against Satan and cast out the demon. Whatever the motivations of man who was stoped by the disciples he would have been unable to speak ill of him later, unlike the teachers of the law who had accuse him of being in league with Beelzebub (Mk 3:22-29).
For as Jesus makes it clear that the disciples should not stop him for whoever isn’t against him is for him. Our God uses people no matter what their gifts and abilities for the work of his kingdom, while the twelve were arguing and debating among themselves about who is the greatest, who stopped the man from casting out demons because he wasn’t one of the special twelve, as we will think of on Friday there is nothing to trivial or unimportant when rendered by God’s people in the service of him to go unnoticed. For whoever is not against him is for him and we will think more about that on Friday.
Q 24 How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation. (John 1:18, 1 Pet. 1:10–12, John 15:15, John 20:31)