Yesterday we looked at the disciple’s argument about who was the greatest. Today’s reading ties right into that story. Today we find that there are others out working the “mission fields” besides Jesus and His disciples.
In yesterday’s story Jesus took a child and put him in the middle of His group of disciples to illustrate a point. We looked at this story from the point of service but I was just shown another aspect of it while reading today’s story.
When Jesus first started speaking about the child He said. “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (verse 48). Jesus was making this point for more than just His disciples. He was stating WHOEVER, as a global term. We recognize that for today but it was also true for His lifetime. John would bring those “whoevers” up in just a moment.
After Jesus finished His demonstration John tattles on himself and the other disciples. Was John thinking about Jesus’ inclusion of “whoever” when he brought up this person and the disciples’ own behavior? Was he wondering where this person fit in Jesus’ “greatness” and service” plan? Was he checking to see if they had done the right thing for Jesus? Or was he trying to win favor for acting to protect Jesus? We aren’t really told John’s motives for bringing it up.
But there are a few things we do know about the incident John shared. First of all, this person was unknown to Jesus’ disciples. He didn’t hang around with them on a regular basis. He wasn’t part of their number. But he must have been present on at least a few occasions in order to understand the power in Jesus’ name.
The second we know is that this man is successful in casting out demons. He isn’t pretending to do this or putting on some show. He is actually doing the same work Jesus and His disciples have been doing. And we know WHY he is successful. He is doing this work in Jesus’ name. He is not trying to do it under his own authority, but calling on Jesus’ authority instead. This leads me to believe that he had observed Jesus’ disciples while they were out on their first “mission trip” and watched what they were doing. He didn’t have Jesus personally convey His authority to him, but he recognized where the authority flowed from.
The last thing we know is that Jesus approved of this man’s actions. The man didn’t have to follow a set pattern or enlist in the right schools to be valuable to Jesus. All that was necessary was for him to be working to the same ends as Jesus and His disciples. “The one who is not against you is for you” (verse 50). This man was a fellow laborer for the Kingdom of God. He was a true believer in the power of Jesus and the authority of Jesus over Satan and his minions.
Father God, thank You that we don’t all have to look alike and practice serving You in exactly the same manner to be acceptable and valuable to You. Thank You that You use us in all our varied forms. Please help me when I try to do like Jesus’ disciples did and stop someone from serving You because they are not doing it my way. I have no right to judge how someone serves You. I can assess if they are following You by the fruits of their actions. The person who is doing Your work IN YOUR NAME is my fellow laborer. Help me recognize my brothers and sisters in all the varieties You created. You made us in as many varieties as You made flowers. The variety is what makes the garden spectacular!