Mark: According to
38 “Now John answered Him, saying, Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”
Some Bibles make it appear that this passage follows or is part of the previous section of verses in Mark from chapter 9 verses 33-37. They could; but do seem to be out of place considering that verse 42 seems to be a continuation of verses 33-37. It appears John is referring back to Mark 3:14. Perhaps at the time Jesus called the twelve, another who had been associated with Jesus had begun to do miracles and John at that time had questioned Jesus, why does he perform these miracles when they are not one of us? It is that old feeling of, “Hey we are special, and therefore better than everyone else.”
Israel as a nation having been called by God, “His special people” had taken on an heir of entitlement, thumbing their noses at all those around them. God had called them “My Special people” because through them the Messiah was to be born and through the example of the Israelite nation, all other nations and all other peoples would be drawn to God. But they had not fulfilled their mission, instead they had killed the messengers and prophets of God. They had become like an infectious cancer that eventually resulted in them through the hated Romans crucifying the Messiah.
But the problem of “Sectarianism” is not limited to just the disciples or Israel of old. It is alive and well within Christendom today.
What do I mean? Let’s look into what took place between John, James, the other person performing miracles and Jesus. The original Greek renders what John said too; “We hindered Him.” Upon this condition James and John had excused their conduct on the basis that they were jealous for the honor of Jesus. But if we truly honored Jesus and were concerned for his honor, then we would accept others as Jesus was accepting of all. The problem that arose in James and John was that they were jealous of their own honor which prompted the action or rebuking the one that was performing miracles in Jesus name. They thought they had the exclusive right to perform miracles never recognizing that the gift of miracles is bestowed upon those that the Holy Spirit chooses.
Jesus answered 39 “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.” I like Jesus response to this question. To us it should be obvious that Jesus is saying, “John, what is wrong with you, stop hindering him. You have no right to force other men to conform to our ideas and opinion, or to follow our methods of labor.”
This man had been performing Miracles in Jesus name and there is evidence when the disciples had performed miracles, that they too had done so in Jesus name. Therefore, just because he is not one with you, but one with Christ does not give you the right to judge him or persecute him, just because his methods or actions are not in harmony with your own.
In reality this could be taken one step further. How often in life, does this spirit of sectarianism show up in our lives? We criticize the faith or actions of another because we fail to understand them, or the place where they have come from.
Let me give you an example. I am involved in Prison Ministries, having ministered to Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian alike who are behind bars. The system is set up that those involved with going into the prisons to minister are to have no contact with the prisoner once they are released from prison. There is good reason it is set up this way. Upon release their names are turned over to another group within our organization that then takes over ministering to them. Upon meeting the director of the ministry that serves the former inmates, I was upset at what I saw. Enough upset that it caused a couple of sleepless nights and time in prayer. It is not that the director of that side of the program is not a devoted Christian, he certainly is and was himself an inmate at one time. What bothered me was the methods he used to interact with the former inmates. They seemed harsh and certainly not the way I would do it, and there became the issue. The problem lay in the fact that it was not my way of doing it, but that also stemmed from the fact that the set of problems faced by those on the outside is completely different from those faced within the prison walls.
The Directors actions were justified and certainly done in a Christian way, but I, having never been an inmate could not understand the difficult problem the director and his team face on a daily basis. Their work is done in the name of Jesus as is mine, but their methods, their actions are different because their background and situation is different than what I would do or use. Yet, there is nothing wrong with what they are doing and I praise God for the wonderful work they do.
But, what if I like John and James out of jealousy or lack of understanding attempted to hinder the work of the director and his team, what would have been the result. Why of course, souls lost for the kingdom.
The same holds true between churches. If there are two churches and they are both winning souls for the kingdom in Jesus name, why should we care how they are doing it, for it should all bring glory to God.
The same holds true for two people or groups of people that are working for kingdom growth in the name of Jesus. If it brings honor to heaven and to God, then it will be blessed and be multiplied. “For whoever is not against us is on our side.”
Jesus finished talking to John and the other 11 by saying, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Isn’t it interesting that Jesus uses a “cup of water” as an analogy? In John 4:1-42 is the story of the woman at the well in which Jesus asks for a drink of water but ends up giving her living water. This is the same living water he gives to all those that listen to his Word and then in his name go out and sow seeds of the gospel to all those around and also help in gathering the ripened grain as they become members of the Christian Church. It is our job as Christians to stop bickering among ourselves and start doing in Jesus name to build growth for the kingdom.
For the disciples it was a tough lesson, but if we want to link it to the passage just before when Jesus criticized them for wanting to be the greatest, then sectarianism is another way of thinking you are better than another. So in reality, once again, Jesus is saying to be great in the kingdom of heaven you must become a servant, and stop all this foolish bickering and hindering of the work that is being done in Jesus name.