If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 9.
We will begin reading in Mark 9:30-37 that Drew preached out of last week and we will continue on into verses 38-40 that we will give our attention to this week.
That was last weeks’ text, now lets look at this week’s text and pray for understanding.
Everything about Jesus’ message was counter cultural.
In fact it contradicts still today our natural human instincts.
We are presently studying a cyclical pattern in the gospel of Mark where
Jesus teaches his disciples the truth about his mission...
His disciples misunderstand that mission
And Jesus corrects their misunderstanding and further applies his message to their own lives.
In verse 31, Jesus clearly teaches once again that his intention is to lay down his own life.
the intentions are clear…
the mission is plain…
but the disciples still don’t get it.
In fact, they begin to argue about who will be greatest in the kingdom of God
And again Jesus corrects them.
he emphasizes things like humility and servanthood and caring for those like a child who cannot care for you in return.
Jesus’ counter cultural message and mission was to become their counter cultural message and mission And furthermore it is to become ours.
Now in today’s passage, we see the disciples striving for their own greatness once again but in a different way.
A couple questions rise to the surface from verse 38.
Firstly, who is this man who casted out a demon in the name of Jesus?
I think we need to remember here, that the 12 disciples were not the only people who were responding positively to Jesus’ message.
Jesus had been teaching, ministering, and healing for some time at this point.
He had traveled to a number of villages, and towns.
On one occasion he had taught and fed 5,000 people.
On another occasion he had taught and fed 4,000 people.
Along the way we have met several who have come to Jesus in faith and have received his blessing and his healing.
Consider just the people that Mark has included in the story thus far.
Consider the Leper, the Paralytic, the man with the withered hand.
The man consumed with a legion of demons.
The woman who touched his garment
Jairus and his healed daughter
The Syrophoenician woman
The deaf man.
The blind man.
And the young boy who had the demon causing him to have seizures.
All of these people and many more met Jesus, and experienced the power of Jesus, and presumably many of them went on to believe that Jesus really was the promised one.
They went back to their normal lives, hoping and believing that Jesus was who he said he was.
Some of them no doubt, would again be confronted with things such as demon possession.
What would they do when confronted with the same ailment that perhaps plagued them or their loved ones their whole lives.
Verse 38, tells us exactly what at least one new follower of Jesus did..
Mark 9:38 (ESV)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name…
Apparently, there were some who cried out in the name of Jesus to cast away demonic activity, and it actually worked.
Through their faith in Jesus, and the proclamation of Jesus’ ultimate power and authority, God almighty actually drove away the evil spirits through these individuals.
It was an incredible miracle pointing all the more to the supremacy of Jesus.
so whats the problem?!
Why would the disciples try to stop someone doing a great work in the name of Jesus?
Well there is a key phrase at the end of verse 38.
Mark 9:38 (ESV)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
Notice the word “us”
John lumped himself in with Jesus as if everyone else was supposed to be following Jesus + the 12 disciples.
Now remember that just a few paragraphs prior, the disciples were unable to cast out a demon, seemingly because they had begun to rely upon themselves more than they were relying on the Lord....
But now John has a problem with other people actually doing mighty things in the name of Jesus, because they are not following him and the other disciples....
Judging from the context, John’s motives here do not seem to be the purest.
It appears that their may be some pride going on here.
Perhaps even some jealousy.
John’s concern here is not purely about Jesus’ Kingdom.... this is a concern about John’s kingdom and the kingdom of the other disciples.
Listen to how one commentator puts it,
Mark 9:38 (Mark (PNTC)): In complete disregard of the lesson of the preceding story, John regards his call as a disciple not as a call to service but as an entitlement of privilege and exclusion.
John’s report that the independent exorcist “ ‘was not following us’ ” is depressingly ironic.
We should expect him to say “ ‘because he was not following you.’
” It is not a little presumptuous at this stage of discipleship for John to think himself and the other disciples worthy of being followed.
This is yet another echo of their inflated self-importance (so 9:34).
Gundry rightly notes the absurdity of the Twelve’s telling the independent exorcist to stop doing what they could not do in 9:14–29.
This leads us to Truth #1
Truth #1 God’s Kingdom Does Not Revolve Around Us
We Christians worship a God who is eternal.
He is all powerful.
He is all knowing.
He is fully present in all places and he is fully capable of working in billions of people simultaneously.
Jesus ministry and message of repentance, faith, and forgiveness was not only for John in the 1st century, but its for you on the other side of the planet 2 millennia later.
One of the most profound realities to consider is the fact that God is doing so much all at one time.
Consider just the miracle of prayer.
He hears our prayers and speaks to us through his Word.
When I pray, I have the full attention of God, while at the same time millions of people around the planet may be praying to him as well And they have the full attention of God.
I do not have a little sliver of God’s divided attention split between millions of others.
God is so beyond our comprehension that he is able to fully and entirely hear the prayers of millions of people simultaneously.
He is providentially working in the incalculable details of your life at the same time that he is providentially working in the incalculable details of the newest believer in Southeast Asia.
Our God is a big God… and his kingdom of believers in Jesus is a big Kingdom that he is expanding to every corner of the globe and to every generation.
It is our tendency and our temptation to think that God’s kingdom revolves around us, our church, and what God is doing or not doing in me personally and in my circle of influence.
God is not only doing more in our own context then we realize… he is doing trillions of things in other contexts through other people we are not even aware of.
One of the great tests of our kingdom mindedness is whether we are able to truly and genuinely celebrate what God is doing in someone else’s life and ministry.
All of us are by nature kingdom builders.
God gave Adam and Eve the commission in Genesis to bear the image of God to the world, to fill the earth, and to reign as representatives of God’s rule…
But sin corrupts that desire.
because of sin we have a desire not that God’s image be known, but that our own image, our own name, our own renown be put on display for all the world to see.
We want more control, more recognition
we want the borders of the kingdom of me to be always expanding.
This is the motivation behind your slander, and your gossip
as you talk badly about someone else, you simultaneously build yourself up and put yourself on display as the model example.
This is the motivation behind some of your ambition,
the accomplishments and accolades you desire, are not totally pure ambitions.
Your desires have mixed within them ambitions for glory, to prove to others that you are a certain way, to build a statue of yourself according to the image you would like to be worshipped by others.
This is the cause of some of your bitterness, and its why you are so quick to be offended and so slow to forgive.
The too easily offended are almost always those who actually think too much of themselves and their own kingdom.
We are offended past the point of forgiveness, because we see someone else’s failure to treat us a certain way to be the most ultimate unforgivable Act.