He Who Is Not Against Us Is For Us
Joe R. Price
The apostles of Christ had just been disputing with each
other about who was greatest among them (Mk. 9:33-34). Jesus patiently taught them, as He
would on numerous occasions, that greatness in His kingdom is measured by humble service,
not prominent position (Mk. 9:35). Using a child to illustrate His point, Jesus teaches us
to receive one another in His name. One apostle would later write, Yes, all of you
be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility(1 Pet. 5:5). Pride can be
our undoing as it disrupts the body of Christ.
But wait! The apostles saw a man casting out
demons in Your (Jesuss, jrp) name and told him to stop because he does
not follow us (Mk. 9:38). What was the problem here? The apostles were being
territorial. They were trying to protect their greatness in the kingdom! After
all, Jesus had given them the power to work such miracles (Mk. 3:14-15). The man they saw
was not one of the twelve. He was not a part of their company. He must not be allowed to
work in Jesus name! (Never mind that the man could only do such work with
Jesus approval, or that Jesus had given such powers to more than just the 12! -- Lk.
10:1, 9) The fact is, the 12 had recently failed to cast out a demon (Mk. 9:18). Now, they
come across someone else doing what they could not do! Truly, pride and jealousy are
deceptive and damning traits! Both are seen here as we study the reaction and the words of
Some have tried to use this passage to approve of
Christians in all the churches. Such is a misuse of the passage. Jesus nowhere
endorses false doctrine or false practices, here or in any other text. Neither does Jesus
say that one can be saved without following Him (cf. Jno. 8:12; 14:6). What He does say is
that even though the man was not in the immediate company of Himself and the twelve, the
mans work was consistent with Jesus authority and purposes. The man should not
be caused to stumble by the apostles rebuke (Mk. 9:38, 42-43). The man was on their
side because he was on Jesus side. He was doing the work of God by the authority of
Jesus. He should have been encouraged, not hindered (v. 38-39). 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. (Mk. 9:41)
Our should be willing to endorse and encourage every
person who is walking in the truth of Christ (1 Jno. 2:3-6; 2 Jno. 4-6, 9-11; 3 Jno. 5-8).
And, we must refrain from all elements of pride and jealousy which choke out brotherly
love while generating partyism and factionalism (Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). That which
enables both is child-like humility (Mk. 9:35).
We must not try to make Jesus say something in Mark
9:38-41 which He did not say. Jesus forbids sectarianism in this passage, He does not
endorse it! Those who would justify doctrinal differences by using this text greatly err.
The man was not in doctrinal error, he was working in the name of Jesus. His work was not
against Jesus and His apostles, but in harmony with the Lord. Therefore, he who is
not against us is on our side (v. 40).
We must be careful to avoid pride and jealousy in the kingdom of God. All humble service to others in the name of Christ will be rewarded. But, the one who causes another to stumble will certainly lose his soul (Mk. 9:41-43).