“On Your Mark”
Able But No Label (Chapter 9 Verses 38-41)
The man in (v38) obviously does not have the right label, according to the disciples anyway. So they instructed him to stop his obviously fruitful, and spiritual ministry. Such arrogance! We must assume the man has the necessary spiritual qualities (1Corinthians 13.2), or he would not have been successful. Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) the North American theologian of some repute and experience, says, “we are to observe the effect wrought by a work, and if it be agreeable to the word of God, we are bound to rest in it as God’s work (Isaiah 40.13-14; John 3.8). It is not God’s place to explain to us why he has used certain means. God uses the weak and foolish things of the world to fulfil his purposes. It has pleased God at times to use the infirmities and sins, the imprudent, the rash zeal and even the censorious spirit to chasten the deadness, negligence, worldliness, vanity and declension in others.” We certainly cannot throw this man together with others Jesus rejected (Matthew 7.22). He has obviously understood what by faith in the name of Jesus can be done, and is indeed serving Jesus, and acceptably. Patience I think is what Jesus is looking for in his disciples. And perhaps for the man’s faith and gifts to develop. Maybe he was not using quite the same language as the disciples and maybe his methods were not quite the same, but he had the same Saviour, same faith, and same loving, caring motivation for the people to whom he was ministering. Does not that count for something? Those who are for Jesus (v40) are not against him. Now if a person is for Jesus, he is not indifferent about him. He is not against his truth, his revelation, his word. To be against those is to be against Jesus. To be for Jesus is sufficient grounds to drop all opposition. Perhaps even to join him and become an enthusiastic follower.
Now to use this verse to support the inter-faith, or the modern false ecumenical religious notions, will not do. For anyone surely who disagrees in regards to the mediatorial role of Jesus, by saying that the supposed gods of other religions are as an authentic revelation of, and way to God as any other, including Jesus. Is not being for, but against Jesus. To say that prayer, which is an act of worship, can be offered to any other so-called deity, including the mother of Jesus, Mary, and to treat her as an acceptable Mediatrix, that is against Jesus not for him. With such, have nothing to do (2Corinthians 6.14). One thing is for certain, neutrality is out of the question, there is no such a position. You are either one or the other, for or against. It does not take much to display which side a person is on (v41). Such a small thing as how you treat a thirsty disciple, knowing who he belongs to. I suppose it amounts to this, your attitude to the Church, to God’s people, that is what really reflects how you really feel about Christ. Because any opportunity you are given to serve the Church, is an opportunity to serve Christ (v37), and to demonstrate your allegiance to him, whether you are for him or against him. So how is it with your brothers and sisters? Are you serving them? No? Are there brethren you don’t get along with, maybe don’t even talk to? Then you are simply not serving Jesus. Your worship is false, hypocritical.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)