“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. But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.'” – Mark 9:38-41
On this road to the cross we will encounter many people. Some who want to help on the journey and many who want to distract us from our mission. It is in this passage that the disciples tell Jesus about another group that was doing ministry in His name. The disciples were anxious to let Jesus know that they tried to practice a little “quality control” by stopping this renegade disciple. But, Jesus was not impressed. The kingdom is bigger than twelve! By this time in the ministry of Jesus, the countryside was filled with people who had been healed by Jesus or had experienced His life changing teaching. The news about Him spread like wildfire and, I’m sure there were those who were not in the immediate group of Jesus’ disciples who were testifying about the love and power of Jesus the Christ.
Have you ever thought about that? There were followers of Jesus all over the place by this time. Seemed every place Jesus went people’s lives were changed and the Gospel was proclaimed. Yes, this revelation of God’s love was much bigger than twelve guys! In fact, it was just a few chapters before when Jesus delivered a man from demons and sent him to tell everyone what Jesus had done for him in the area of the Decapolis (Mark 5:18-20). Wow! Now that’s a big mission trip…Oh…and no “disciples”. There was a loud mouthed leper who was cleansed by Jesus and shared the good news so much that Jesus had to leave town due to the crowds (Mark 1:40-45). What a preacher! No mention of the disciples. And how many of the 5000 fed on the hillside in Mark chapter 6 went to their homes proclaiming the good news of Jesus to friends and family? You get the idea.
Believer, God is bigger than your personal ministry, your church, your denomination, and your culture! He is at work around the globe transforming lives through the Gospel of Jesus Christ! He is using all kinds of people, styles, colors, cultures to proclaim that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The church was bigger than the twelve then and it’s bigger than us now. Praise the Lord!
Now, there is an important…essential element that Jesus makes here. These “other followers” are ministering in the name of Jesus. They are not ministering in the name of some other God or prophet. They are not in the group of Jesus’ closest disciples, but the unifying factor is Jesus. They are not just a group of people doing good things. They are people that are clearly “disciples” of Jesus. The core of their activity is to glorify Jesus. This is the Gospel! It comes in many shapes and sizes, different cultures and languages, but the identity of Jesus as the Christ is the core of their activity and message.
Yes, we will encounter many other believers on this road to the cross and this is a challenge for us to support and encourage all those who are ministering in the “name of Jesus” and to celebrate His mighty works everywhere.