The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 9E

Chapter 9:38-41

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  • Last week, we encountered a humbling moment for the disciples as Jesus confronted their concern of greatness in the Kingdom.

    • If you recall, as the disciples and Jesus were making their way to Capernaum, the disciples were secretly discussing who would be the greatest.

      • This conversation, might I add, was being discussed not too long after their failure of healing (exorcising) a demon-possessed child.

    • It was upon the return to Jesus’ headquarters in Capernaum, potentially in Peter’s home, where Jesus lovingly confronts their quiet conversation.

      • In other words, Jesus takes this time to confront their heart issues through a means of a teaching moment.

      • And this teaching consisted of these men needing to set their hearts upon the mission at hand and that is the mission of service to the King in light of the coming Kingdom.

    • For having a proper disposition on service rather than status would set them on a proper course for the Kingdom Program ahead.

      • So it was with Jesus sitting with the twelve that He provides a true picture of service as to how one becomes great in the Kingdom.

    • Jesus mentions that the way to become great and gaining greater responsibility in the Kingdom is to serve the least of these in the here and now.

      • To put it differently, our ability to be great in the Kingdom first requires one to serve well here and now.

    • Therefore, our approach to achieving this is by continual dependence and constant humility.

      • I want to remind us of the South African Pastor, Andrew Murray’s quote on humility, where he stated:

“Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.”
    • Therefore, we must prioritize God’s instructions, His perspectives, and His authority.

      • For when God’s plans become greater than our pursuits, we begin to gain a proper eternal perspective.

    • Tonight, what we will discover, is an extension of the lesson Jesus was teaching the twelve.

      • That where humility and status was a problem, the issues that derive from that must be completely abolished for the sake of God’s plan being accomplished.

    • For the Kingdom Program would require a network of believers, united in one Spirit, to accomplish the spreading of the Gospel.

      • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text, it would simply be: “Kingdom Partnership: When Unity and Humility Meet”.

      • With that being said, I invite you to open up your copy of scripture and meet me in Mark 9:38-41.

Mark 9:38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 
Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 
Mark 9:40 For he who is not against us is for us. 
Mark 9:41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
  • Let's Pray.

Mark 9:38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 
  • As we pick back up in verse 38, you may have noticed that the conversation from our previous teaching is an ongoing discussion.

    • We find that after Jesus’ profound illustration by the use of a child and their need to depend upon the father, that John pivots to another angle of the discussion.

      • And it just so happens that John’s question is one that addresses the disciples’ recent public engagement with exorcisms.

      • You might also notice that John’s interjection of dialogue at this point is quite rare and looks to address yet another derivative of Jesus’ previous point – issues of status and exclusivity (rooted in pride).

    • John tells Jesus that there was “another person”, not within the group of the twelve, who was casting out a demon using Jesus’ name.

      • And John’s issue with this scene was that this man was not from “them”.

    • So, because this man was not a part of the twelve, the disciples sought to “prevent” the man from doing this work.

      • And what an accurate description of James’ nature in this situation, known as being one of the “Sons of Thunder”.

      • We will explore this word “prevent” momentarily.

    • Now from the outside looking in the text seems to read as if the man, not affiliated with the twelve, has been rather successful in this work.

      • Whereas, not too long ago, the 9 disciples were struggling with an attempt to exorcise a demon in Jesus’ absence.

      • What was John’s cause of bringing this matter up, right now, after Jesus had just discussed the importance of humility?

    • Remember, our context in this chapter has been dependence and humility regarding service, responsibility, and reward in the Kingdom.

      • And here we find a situation where someone, outside of the “inner circle”, if you will, has been successful in expelling demons, by using Jesus’ name.

    • If you don’t see it by now, we should note the stark contrast between the success of the “unknown someone” versus the failure and embarrassment of the disciples.

      • It almost seems as if this is a “licking of the wounds” moment.

    • In John’s mind, how can it be that this random follower is able to do mighty works for the Lord, yet Jesus’ own disciples are struggling to fully accomplish these works apart from Christ.

      • And friends may I suggest that is the point to be had.

    • It’s clear that this outsider, who is a follower of Jesus, has placed faith in the Lord Jesus and has demonstrated complete dependency upon the Father for all things.

      • This is what Jesus has been trying to relay to His own disciples, yet they are more focused on their status versus God’s provision.

    • There becomes an issue that arises from John’s disposition that we should look into and that is this sense of exclusivity.

      • The twelve had this idea that somehow no one else should be entitled to do these mighty works of God if they haven’t been a part of this core group.

      • You can almost hear this sense of entitlement and animosity flowing from John’s lips as if to say to this non-apostle, “Jesus didn’t call you, He called us.”

      • Notice in verse 38b that John states that they tried to “prevent” this man from this work.

    • The word “prevent” in Greek is kolyo (kol-io) which simply means to stop or refrain someone from doing something.

      • Now what becomes most interesting is that this word kolyo (kol-io) has a similar connection with the Septuagint transliteration of that word, K’l (Kaw-la).

      • And we see the use of this word in the Hebrew scriptures in a similar context found in Numbers 11:23-30.

      • Turn with me there.

Numbers 11:23 The Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”
Numbers 11:24  So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. Also, he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and stationed them around the tent. 
Numbers 11:25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again.
Numbers 11:26 But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the name of the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them (now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent), and they prophesied in the camp. 
Numbers 11:27 So a young man ran and told Moses and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 
Numbers 11:28 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” 
Numbers 11:29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” 
Numbers 11:30 Then Moses returned to the camp, both he and the elders of Israel.
  • So we see, in this context, a very similar situation at play.

    • Where Moses serves as the mediator – by which the Lord God speaks through, and the Holy Spirit rests upon – Jesus Christ is the one in whom the Holy Spirit rests within.

    • And where Joshua sought for Moses to restrain Eldad and Medad, who were not selected as the 70 elders in whom the Holy Spirit rested upon, we see John seeking to prevent the “outsider” from doing the mighty works of God.

    • What I would like to point our attention to that the text is screaming for us to see is the similar response of both Moses and Jesus.

      • Let’s first begin with Moses' response as it will set precedence as to why Jesus responds the way He will in Mark 9:39.

    • In verse 27 of Numbers 11, we are told that a young man goes to report that Eldad and Medad, who were not within the group of the 70 elders, was prophesying in the camp.

      • So when word got back to Moses, Joshua was flustered and requested that Moses restrain (prevent) these men from prophesying. (Kol-io)

      • Yet Moses’ answer is quite revealing. He says: “Are you jealous for my sake?”

      • He then speaks plainly to Joshua and says that he wished that all God’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.

      • What was the point of Moses’ statement there?

    • We must realize that Moses’ leadership responsibilities were so great for just one man that the Lord provided 70 men to help disseminate the responsibility of doing the Lord’s work.

      • There was no power complex or pursuit of status in Moses’ mind.

      • There was only work to be done and the help of more would have been beneficial for him to complete the Lord’s work.

    • So when Moses is told that Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, Moses sees this as more hands on deck to do the work of ministry.

      • The point being that those in whom the Lord has given the ability to do His work, that that work is accomplished through God’s provision.

      • Ministry is not centered on one person or an elite group of people doing something, but it is accomplished through a collective body accomplishing the work of the Father.

      • Now that we have Moses’ response, check out how Jesus responds to John’s issue in verses 39-40.

Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 
Mark 9:40 For he who is not against us is for us. 
  • Jesus’ response is not far removed from that of Moses’ response.

    • He begins by saying do not “Kolyo” (Kol-io) – do not prevent him or restrain the man from the work.

      • And Jesus tells John and the disciples they are to leave that man and any who serves in that way, alone. Why?

      • For no one performing miracles in Jesus’ name can speak evil of Him later.

    • In other words, the power to accomplish the works of God only comes by the Power of God through submission unto the will of God.

      • So we see that Jesus not only affirms this man’s service, but confirms that this man is operating under God’s will.

      • We can confirm this because the very next statement Jesus makes is “He who is not against us is for us.”

    • And what a contrasting statement from what we see in Matthew 12:30 where Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me.”

      • So it’s clear that whoever this man is, not only has He placed faith in Messiah, but His dependency is upon the Father’s provision for all things.

      • And friends, there is a key theological component to this that we must not overlook.

    • Notice that in Numbers 11: Who is the person of the God-head responsible for the power to proclaim God’s truth? It is none other than the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

      • What is even more compelling is how the Spirit operated then versus now.

    • That where the Spirit rested upon men for a period to accomplish God’s work then, it would be after Jesus’ ascension that the Holy Spirit would indwell believers.

      • Why do I mention this? Because what we are witnessing here is a sense of foretelling as to how the Kingdom Program would collectively go forth!

      • It would be the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit which brings about unity in the body for the purpose of making much of Christ.

    • What we see here theologically is the significance of humility, submission, and obedience.

      • This unity is not just something we talk about regarding how believers should operate, but these attributes are found within the God-head, itself.

      • Therefore, how much more should humility, submission, and obedience be found in the bride of Christ – His Church.

    • Friends, this provides us an early picture of how the Holy Spirit would function to sustain and keep the Church.

      • So where Moses mentioned that he wished that all God’s people have the Spirit upon them to prophesy, there would one day be a permanent indwelling of God’s Spirit.

    • The prophets of old, by the leading of the Spirit, spoke of a day that would come regarding the Spirit of God indwelling the people of God.

      • We see a bit of that in Ezekiel 36:27. Check out the text:

Ezekiel 36:27  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
  • So this sense of unity, humility, and dependency was the pill that the disciples would need to swallow and the way in which to embrace the path ahead.

    • But with that these men would need to recognize that although they would be spear heading the Kingdom Program forward, it wouldn’t just rest with them.

    • Therefore this sense of exclusivity and competition and being better than others needed to be replaced with “Kingdom Partnership”.

    • The unfortunate reality is, within the Global Church today, we have established competition between ministries and churches.

      • We have established a precedence of promoting platforms above the person of Jesus Christ.

      • We now see churches competing for the flock rather than feeding the flock.

      • We are seeking status and influence rather than growing men and women in the knowledge of Christ.

    • It’s almost as if the church has become a clique instead of a conduit by which disciples are made and sent out to share the Gospel with others.

      • Church and ministry is not and should not be a competition, it should be a partnership!

    • Jesus is trying to get the disciples to see beyond themselves and to embrace the Kingdom Program.

      • The reality is, the work of ministry is bigger than one church or one ministry, or one pastor.

      • And with this in mind the idea of “me-centered ministry” should be completely blown out of the water. All things should point to Christ!

      • I love what Jesus said in John 16:12-15 regarding the Spirit’s role. Check out the text.

John 16:12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 
John 16:13  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 
John 16:14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 
John 16:15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
  • Notice that the Spirit doesn’t promote Himself. He points to the Son, and the Son points to the Father.

    • What perfect unity and submission!

    • The God-head seeks to serve the Father’s will and plan and so should the body seek to serve the Son unto the Glory of God.

      • In other words, service is key to the Kingdom Program, but most especially knowing why you are serving is critical.

      • Serving Christ requires full submission unto the very words of Jesus by which the Spirit will illumine our hearts and minds to.

      • For how we serve well now determines the rewards we will receive in the coming Kingdom.

    • We find in verse 41 that Jesus lands the plane with the following statement. Check it out.

Mark 9:41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
  • There seems to be a conclusory point regarding the service of others beyond the group of the twelve.

    • Jesus states that whoever serves you in the most menial of ways (cup of water), because of who you are, in connection to Christ, that individual won’t lose their reward.

      • We need to examine this statement a bit closer to realize its full impact.

    • As Jesus is speaking here, He is speaking about those who are outside of this “inner circle” of disciples, who have placed faith in Messiah.

      • Notice that those whom are serving the disciples are those who adhere to Messiah as their King as well.

      • Therefore, both groups are positionally in Christ, regardless of their physical proximity to Jesus.

    • In other words, this person’s ability to serve and the disciples’ service are both valuable and will be rewarded in the Kingdom.

      • However, the disciples who walked closer with the Lord must not devalue the contribution of the other followers of Christ.

    • Friends, if we find ourselves insisting that somehow our service to God trumps the next person’s service, we must check our hearts and kill our pride.

      • We must not treat the church or even our knowledge of knowing Jesus as a “flexing” tool as to say how much greater you are than the next.

    • There is no room in the Kingdom for a sense of competition or privilege because we all have been saved by the same grace of God.

      • Understand that your contribution in ministry matters, however you are serving, wherever you are serving.

      • You don’t have to have the fancy seminary degree or impressive title to serve others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • I recall when I came under Pastor Steve’s leadership as an Associate Pastor at the fellowship, I was intimidated when it came down to preaching my first sermon there because everyone was familiar with Steve’s teaching.

      • I wouldn’t dare want to follow up after his teaching.

    • So when I was prepping to teach my first sermon at the fellowship, Steve asked me how things were going, I told him, “Steve, I’m nervous because people are used to your style-not mine.”

      • And as I was about to continue, he stopped me and said: “Wesley, The Lord called you here not to become another Steve Armstrong, he called you here to be Wesley Livingston”.

    • Those words freed me up because it dawned on me – the same Holy Spirit that indwelled Steve is the same Holy Spirit that indwells me.

      • My style of teaching may be different from Steve, but we both proclaim a message we have been transformed by – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      • We both have been saved by this miraculous grace that God has shown us.

      • And friends, you too have the same indwelling Holy Spirit to do the work God has called you to do as well regardless of how grand you think your service is or isn’t.

    • We must be careful not to discount believers who may not be as knowledgeable as you, as if they have no value to serve because they don’t “know enough”.

      • Jesus tells them that because these individuals serve for the sake of Messiah, their reward will not be lost.

    • We serve not for status or recognition, but simply out of the grace that God has shown us and that we have received.

      • And when we serve and obey from this position, it completely rids one from this sense of entitlement or exclusiveness.

    • There may very well be believers who may not know all that you or I know, theologically, but their eternal rewards just might outweigh yours.

      • Simply because they serve with their lives in obedience to God and not simple lip service.

    • May we be a people not ruled by our prideful desires for power and prestige, but may we serve even the least of these considering the grace we have received.

      • Let’s Pray.