Summary: A message encouraging the saints to refresh others.
“John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.’”
I am reading this passage with new insight in recent days. Jesus, approaching the cross, discovers His disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest. It is not so very different with disciples today. We take pride in the gifted men God gives us, pride in the facilities God has provided us, pride in the warmth of fellowship we enjoy, pride in all except that which is eternal. Though He displayed exceptional gentleness, the Master nevertheless rebuked His own through instructing them.
Perhaps you will remember the words of VERSE 37. In that verse we hear Jesus saying, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” We have perhaps heard those very words whenever we witness a godly family commit themselves to raising their children in the Faith. Jesus’ words elicited a striking response from John, perhaps the most astute member of the disciple band and perhaps the clearest thinker among them. His words in VERSE 38 constitute not a boast, but a shamefaced admission of failure. If that is not clear, contrast them again with the preceding words Jesus spoke. John realised that he had failed. In a similar way, we also fail in our drive to build our own little kingdoms. Join me in reviewing these verses so that we may discover something of how to honour Christ, building His Kingdom, refreshing the saints and acting with righteousness.
THE PETTINESS OF THE SAVED [V. 38] — “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name.” Take special note of the precision of John’s words. He speaks of THE METHOD observed in another. It would seem that not all Jesus’ followers in that day were closely allied with Him. Neither were all intimately known to the other disciples. At least this one man appears not to have been known to the Twelve, or at least he was not readily recognised by them.
However, the man John saw clearly did grasp one essential truth: the Name of Jesus was associated with power to set men free. This was what the Master had said in His first sermon [LUKE 4:16 21]. “[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
There is not some magical quality to the Name of the Lord as some perhaps suppose, or as many wish to preach. Rather, it is the One behind the Name lending that Name power. Faith in the Son of God appropriates that divine power for the child of God. Do not suppose you may witness the power of Christ without faith in Him? Perhaps you remember the promise of the Saviour given just before His passion. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” [JOHN 14:12-14]. These words spoken by the Master should cause us to tremble, not because of the potential for His power to be revealed, but because we so often fail to employ that very power revealed through His Name.
Knowing that the Name of Jesus was associated with power to set men free, this unnamed man whom John had witnessed was seemingly moved with compassion to set demonised people at liberty. This nameless believer in the power of the Son of God dared to rebuke the powers of the wicked one so that those held in bondage might be freed.