Mark 9:48-50 – “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For 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.”
One of the things we have all observed before is the disciples sticking their sandals in their mouths. This account is no exception. In verses 48-50 we have John speaking to Jesus on behalf of the disciples (where was Peter when you need him?) as they voice concerns over somebody casting out demons in the name of Jesus. The key phrase in John’s comment to Jesus is ‘…we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’ Just for a moment think of the disciple’s perspective. They are the ones Jesus called individually to be His disciples. They are the ones daily sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and being taught. They have the front row seat to all His miracles and the many amazing things He said. Yet with all that they were unable to cast out a demon just a few verses earlier (vs. 28-29). And now they see someone who is NOT in their elite group casting out demons when they had failed and they obviously think it is a problem. Hey come to Jesus looking for His approval for how they dealt with this individual.
However Jesus surprises them by addressing this issue not from a theological viewpoint but rather from a practical one. His response to John’s statement is to simply point out that if these individuals are using His name to cast out the demon then He is confident they are not against Him but rather are really an ally. I can almost see the faces of the disciples as they unwrap this bombshell from Jesus. It changed their paradigm.
Unfortunately for most Christians there is a tendency to be cautious about any denomination or church that doesn’t do things or believe exactly the way we do. We can find ourselves with the same mindset as John and the disciples in that we become indignant and elitist. After all, what we believe and how we do church is the way the Bible teaches and others cannot be correct right? Really? “Well, that’s not me!” you might say, “I don’t think like that!” Let’s give that statement a simple test. As yourself this one question: When is the last time I prayed on a Sunday morning for all the churches in Knoxville gathering together that morning, asking the Lord to move powerfully in their services and for the Gospel to be preached to the sinners who need it so desperately? You see, we are all believers and even though we don’t all see eye to eye on things like secondary doctrine, what Sunday services should look like, what songs we should sing, how to spread the gospel, etc., the reality is the Gospel is being preached each Sunday from multiple pulpits of many churches in Knoxville, not just ours. That is the point Jesus is trying to make. He is asking the disciples to get a larger, macro view of the Gospel.
Now, lest you read this and think I’m advocating we don’t care about sound doctrine let me assure you that is not at all what I am saying. At TCC we are passionate about sound doctrine and know that we are going to be held accountable for what we know and believe. We defend doctrine with a passion. However, we are not to get so wrapped up in doctrine, especially secondary doctrine that we cannot identify and celebrate the Gospel when we see it preached. I personally accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in a church that had many core, primary doctrines wrong. Yet God still saved me and eventually brought me out of it into the fullness of His grace. I am thankful for that.
The lesson of Mark 9:48-50 is that we are not to put Jesus into our box. Instead, let us all worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and rejoice when the Gospel is preached anywhere and at any time to the lost and hurting who so desperately need to hear it.