Scriptures

Whoever Isn’t against Us Is For Us!

Introduction

‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.’ Mark 9:39-41

Ignorance

John related how he had seen someone expelling demons in Jesus’ Name and had forbidden him to do so. Evidently John thought that no one should have been doing any work for the Lord who wasn’t following in their immediate company.

But Jesus had commissioned many to go out, preach, and expel demons, Luke 10:1-17 and He was pleased with those who were faithfully serving Him in other places and so it’s certainly possible the disciples were ignorant of this fact.

Arrogance

There is definitely arrogance involved here, on the part of the disciples against this person whom they considered ‘unauthorised’ to work miracles in the Name of Jesus.

Like I just mentioned, it’s highly possible that this person was previously sent out by Jesus to cast out demons, and notice Mark doesn’t record who this person was, John doesn’t mention who this person was, they simply tell us that he was doing this work in the Name of Jesus.

Evidently the disciples weren’t happy with his work because he wasn’t in what the disciples considered to be the inner circle of disciples and because of this, the disciples thought that he should be stopped from his work. Matthew 13:37-43.

Notice that John says, ‘we told him to stop because he wasn’t one of US.’

They should have been happy that this disciple was a follower of Christ, but it seems they are more concerned about other disciples being a part of their own little group and if they aren’t a part of their own little group, whatever they do, isn’t good, it doesn’t count, that’s what the disciples thought.

Jealousy

Maybe the disciples were struggling with jealousy, I find it interesting that this disciple who was casting out demons was doing what the disciples couldn’t do due to a lack of faith, Mark 9:18-19 / Mark 9:29.

It is possible that the disciples may have felt a little on the intimidated side because this other disciple was able to do something they couldn’t do and so, in effect exposing their own weak faith.

No Condemnation

Notice Jesus didn’t condemn the work of this disciple who was casting out demons in His name, ‘for whoever is not against us is for us’.

Jesus uses the word, ‘us’ here but not in the same sense as John did, but in the universal sense, meaning anyone who brings glory to God through their good deeds, isn’t against God.

This is a lesson the disciples needed to learn, they should be more concerned about those who are rejecting the message, rather than those who are bringing glory to God in Jesus’ Name.

Cup of Water

It’s clear that Jesus wants His disciples to learn a lesson not only on good works, but also on acceptance. The disciples were looking for reasons to reject someone rather than looking for reasons to accept someone, even if they disagreed with what they are doing.

It didn’t matter to Jesus if this other disciple was casting our demons in Jesus Name or handing out cold cups of water to thirsty people living in a dry desert land in Jesus Name, why?

Because whatever good deed we do, whether big or small will be rewarded, especially if those deeds are done for God’s own people, Matthew 10:42 / Matthew 25:37-40.

Warning And Sacrifice

‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Mark 9:42-48

Warning

Jesus stresses how serious we must be about possibly causing ‘these little ones’ to stumble. If the disciples have an attitude of acceptance of others, they will be cautious about being an occasion for one to stumble.

The warning is a stern warning reminding the disciples and us today of the danger of causing someone to fall, that is causing someone to lose their eternal salvation. He said that it would be better to tie a huge stone around a man’s neck and cast him into the sea than for him to cause another to stumble. The word ‘millstone’ is referring to the huge millstones drawn by a donkey.

Sacrifice

Jesus also warned of the danger of allowing anything to cause us to stumble. Obviously, Jesus isn’t speaking literally about cutting our hand off or our feet, He isn’t literally telling us to pluck our eye out, He’s speaking figuratively.

He’s saying, whatever must be sacrificed to keep our faith and loyalty to God must be rejected and given up, regardless of the personal loss or cost to ourselves.

Hell

We know that Jesus used visual aids in His lessons on many occasions and just outside Jerusalem there was a dumping ground, which was on the very site which the above events took place, people would burn their waste on this place and criminals after dying on the cross were taken there, this is probably where Lazarus was taken when he died at the same time as the Rich Man.

The Bible teaches that hell is the final and eternal destination of those who die outside of Christ. The word meaning eternal hell, ‘Gehenna’, is found twelve times in the Greek New Testament. In eleven of these instances, it’s Jesus Himself who employs the term. The fact is the Lord spoke of ‘hell’ more frequently than He did of that place called ‘heaven.’

To us today, ‘Gehenna’ may not have any significance but if you were a Jew, you would know all about this place and its dark history. The original application of Gehenna related to the fire that was used in sacrificing children to the pagan god Molech in 2 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 28:3 / 2 Chronicles 33:6.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 66:24 where Isaiah said that ‘their’ fire isn’t quenched. It was the worm and the fire that consumed the dead bodies in the seemingly unending fire of the valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem.

Isaiah’s ‘fire’ was taken from the historical event of the burning of the carcasses of dead Assyrian soldiers after God killed 185,000 of them who sought to take Jerusalem, 2 Kings 19:25. The event became the historical foundation for the metaphor that illustrated the final destruction of the enemies of God at the end of time, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.

Jesus used the word ‘Gehenna’ to emphasise the fact that offenders will face the punishment of the consuming worm and fire. His emphasis was on the fact that we cannot ignore the consuming fire, it won’t go away.

Notice that the unquenchable fire, isn’t focused on the duration of the fire, but on the certainty, that it will exist to punish those who offend.

When we think about the worm, they would never go anywhere near a fire, they’re smart enough to know to stay away from the fire because of the danger it brings. Jesus is basically describing the terrible character of hell, it’s such an awful place that no one would want to go there. If a worm was crawling towards fire, they would retreat and change direction, Jesus is saying our attitude towards hell should be the same.

When a dead body is buried in the ground, the worm comes along and begins to eat the dead body and hell is the place where the soul will be punished, we should avoid it at all cost.

Jesus is telling us that that the punishment for sin won’t go away, there will be a definite punishment for the wicked. In other words, anyone who is cast into the consuming fire will be punished, Matthew 10:28 / 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

Because of the eternal consequences of hell, Jesus is saying that it’s better to cut off any part of our character that offends others, it’s better to cut it off than to cause someone else to stumble and lose their salvation.

Trials And Persecution

‘Everyone will be salted with fire. ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves and be at peace with each other.’ Mark 9:49-50

When Jesus speaks about salted with fire, He possibly reverts to correcting in their lives that which needs to be brought under control. It’s the fire of persecution and trials that purifies our character, 1 Peter 1:6-7 / 2 Timothy 3:12.

Our work as Christian’s is also tried by the fires of life, 1 Corinthians 3:13, please note that the Corinthians verse isn’t speaking about the Christian’s eternal salvation. The fire, therefore, purifies the character of individuals in order to preserve them through life and prepare them for their heavenly dwelling.

The purified character of the disciples would increase their effectiveness and impact on society, Matthew 5:13-16. As salt acts as a preservative, so their Christian influence in society would preserve society. If our life doesn’t act as a spiritual preservative for society, then we have lost our Christian influence, we are of no value for kingdom business, and thus, not a proper contender for eternal heaven.

Too many Christians are in the business of demolishing and tearing down other Christian’s faith, Proverbs 12:18, but we need to learn to be more effective and influential on each other, Proverbs 27:17, and be at peace with each other, Psalm 133:1.

Conclusion

Jesus pointed out the disciple’s secular attitude, they thought that this other unnamed disciple should be a member of ‘their group’ before he could truly represent Jesus.

It’s all so easy to point at other people in other religious groups and highlight the things they are doing in Jesus Name, but we must look to ourselves first and have the attitude that Jesus was teaching them. God knows what people’s motives are and He knows whose genuine or not, Hebrews 4:13.

Jesus taught them to think and live radically different, to self-examine, he wants us to cut off a hand or a foot or pluck out an eye in order to avoid abandoning Him. Like I mentioned He isn’t speaking literally, but He was emphasising that Christians should sacrifice anything that’s tempting them to sin.

Our eternal salvation is a stake and hell should be taken seriously because when we do, we will do everything possible to avoid it.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:31

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