World English Bible translation
9:38John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone who doesn't follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn't follow us."
9:39But Jesus said, "Don't forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 9:40 For whoever is not against us is on our side. 9:41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ's, most assuredly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. 9:42 Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Jesus had been to the mountain and had been transformed in glory there. He had come down from the mountain and seen His disciples frustrated because they could not heal a child with a mute spirit. After dealing with that situation, He takes His group of disciples to Capernaum. On the way, though, they are arguing among themselves about who is the greatest among them. Jesus tries to tell them that in the Kingdom of God the strong serve the weak. If any man wants to be the greatest, he must first become a servant to all.
In Today's Scripture, Jesus has to set straight yet another misconception that the disciples had. They had been traveling all around the countryside of Galilee with Jesus. They had seen many great miracles and Jesus had confided in them. He had told them that He was the Messiah and was beginning to speak frankly to them about what the future would bring. They were beginning to develop the mindset that they were an exclusive group that was being established. So, they came to Jesus and told Him that they had seen a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and had told the man that he must stop doing this because he was not a disciple of Jesus.
But Jesus told them not to tell the man to quit. He said that anyone who does mighty works in His name would not turn around and blaspheme Christ. He also tells them that whoever gives His people so much as a cup of water to drink will not lose his reward. On the other hand, if anyone were to cause one of God's people to so much as stumble, the consequences would be grave indeed. With these words Jesus throws open the doors of His church so wide that many people are uncomfortable.
With any group, over time, there can develop narrowness. Groups can turn inward and exclusive. There are many different organizations that seek to follow Christ who have become convinced that their expression of spirituality is the best or in some cases the only expression that is approved by God. This passage tells us that God alone will decide who is worthy of reward and His standards are not our own. If God so chooses, He will declare righteous even the heathen who offers a cup of water at the right moment. God is not constrained by our rigidness and His mercy is without measure.
Does this mean that we cannot be convinced that we are worshipping and serving God properly? By no means! But, it does mean that we should guard against becoming convinced that our opinions or our group is the only one with merit. We must allow for the breadth and the depth of God's mercy and compassion. And, we must leave the responsibility for judgment with the Lord.
Will you allow God to work through people that you might not approve of? Will you be willing to understand that God will work with people that might be very different from you or I? Or perhaps, that you and I might be very different from one anther and yet God might work through each of us in different ways?
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