|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM|
Christians, it would seem, often like to discuss controversial subjects. Sadly these topics are not always worthy of the time and energy expended on them. The disciples tried it with Jesus. What was His response?
“Teacher” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38). On the surface this might look very orthodox. Surely it was a good thing to guard the purity of the faith, the message and the messenger.
However, given the background of what had just happened, the controversy might be cast in a different light. The disciples had just failed a test; they had not been successful in casting out a demon from the boy who suffered seizures. Immediately following this they got into an argument among themselves, which they were unwilling to acknowledge to Jesus, about who was greatest (:33-34). It was the human attempt to regain self-respect by putting someone else down.
Unfortunately it proved they had not been listening to Jesus, who picked up a child to illustrate that He knew about their dialogue. He chose the child to teach them a lesson on humility. The subject Jesus pursued was ‘Welcoming others, even a little child’ (Mark 9:37). Little children might refer to spiritually immature people. They didn’t get it! They changed the subject.
Just like little kids they returned to fight over the cookie jar. Someone else was stealing a cookie – casting out demons in Your name. Behind this accusation was pride. If we couldn’t do it, then this person shouldn’t be doing it because “he was not one of us” (:38). Pride of place! Perhaps we all have it, in some form or other.
What a put-down as Jesus answered them…. Unexpectedly He authorized anyone who did miracles in His name! (: 39). He continued His lesson on humility by recommending that even those who give cups of water in His name, will be rewarded. The truth is that “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except with knowledge given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul goes on to explain to the Philippians that it doesn’t matter if Christ is preached out of selfish ambition or out of love. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18).
Bible Commentators amplify the truth by bringing various scriptures together to clarify a difficult point. We cannot ignore the differing situation in Acts where the sons of Sceva were punished for using the name of Jesus illegitimately. They were actually driving out demons by the power of evil, misusing the name of Jesus to achieve their magical exorcisms (Acts 19:13ff). The result of this event was a cleansing in the community where people who practiced sorcery brought the tools of their trade together to be burned. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).
The lesson to be learned here is to let scripture explain scripture, before we jump to conclusions. Each situation requires careful consideration and discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is quite possible that those promoting Jesus’ name do so for either right or wrong reasons. Possibly those mentioned in Mark were followers of John the Baptist, not officially linked with the disciples of Jesus. How easy it is to misconstrue the motives of another person while overlooking the real concerns arising from our own personal pride. Therefore, let us not be hasty to jump to conclusions!
Would you be able to explain the difference between the exorcisms done by the sons of Sceva and those done by the unnamed man?
How would you research your answer?
Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions about difficult Bible passages? What would safeguard you from mis-interpretation?