by Robert M. Solomon

Day 33

Read Mark 9:38-41

We often do not allow God's Word to sink deeply into our hearts. Jesus had just spoken about true greatness in His kingdom. What John said to Jesus shows that he was still stuck in worldly ways of thinking. He told Jesus that they saw a man driving out demons (v. 38). This man could have been a disciple of John the Baptist or one of the 72 disciples. The recent failure to drive out a demon on the part of the disciples was an embarrassment and to see others doing so (presumably successfully) would have filled the disciples with ″professional envy″. They therefore told the man to stop. The reason for their action was:″he was not one of us″ (v. 38). Such cliquish thinking would prove harmful in the kingdom.

The disciples thought ″whoever is not with us is against us″, but Jesus corrected that false assumption. He asks for a larger heart than a narrow exclusiveness

Jesus therefore corrected John by saying ″Do not stop him″ (v. 39). The man was casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus reminded John about it, and asked how a man doing ministry in His name could speak ill about Jesus, ″for whoever is not against us is for us″ (v. 40). The disciples thought ″whoever is not with us is against us″, but Jesus corrected that false assumption. He asks for a larger heart than a narrow exclusiveness. After all, what unites Christians is not ″us″ but ″His name″. Christian community is more than a social reality. It is divine community centred on Jesus. It is He and His will that should unite us.

Jesus then develops the theme of what we do in His name. It represents His person and character. The unnamed man was casting out demons in His name. Surely that would be noted by God. But even the simplest actions done in Jesus' name would not go unnoticed by God. Jesus told the truth that ″anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward″ (v. 41). The disciples knew they belonged to Jesus, but they were not sure about the other man. But Jesus urges them to be more generous in their thinking, arguing that even if the man simply gave them a cup of water in His name, he would be recognised and rewarded by God-how much more so, when he was casting out demons in Jesus' name?

Think through:

What often causes divisions in the church? How much does jealousy, pride, and cliquishness (he is not one of us) feature in church divisions? What lessons can we learn from Jesus?

What does doing something in Jesus' name mean? What would it involve? Reflect on all that you are doing in His name. What is the difference between doing something in His name and some other name, including our own?




About Author

Robert Solomon served as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore from 2002-2012. He has an active itinerant preaching and teaching ministry in Singapore and abroad. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The Race, The Conscience, The Sermon of Jesus, and Faithful to the End.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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