Today’s reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 24-25, Psalm 4, Mark 9
What does it mean to do something in Jesus’ name? Is Jesus’ name like a magic hocus-pocus chant? The sons of Sceva in Acts 19 found out that this is not the case. They saw Paul casting out demons and healing in the name of Jesus, but these enchanters saw it as a way to make some money and garner influence for themselves. They used the name of Jesus, but the demon spoke back, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the result was that demons attacked everyone to such a degree that they ran out naked.
To walk in Christ’s name means that you walk in His character, in His godly nature, and in trust of His Word and His work. We have a high view of His Word, understanding its authority and its accuracy, and its sufficiency. We have a high view of the majesty and glory and sovereignty of Almighty God. We also have an understanding of the high view of the Gospel — of what sin truly is, what being a sinner truly is, and that trust in Jesus alone for salvation apart from your own work or merit is it! This is the framework! These are the non-negotiables!
In Mark 9:38, the Apostle John speaks up! It should be known that this is the only time that he speaks on his own. Here, he has a bit of a confession session — for he has not received one who was working in Christ’s name. He confesses of a time when he saw someone casting out demons — someone not a part of the Twelve — and because of that, they tried to stop him.
Now, don’t separate verse 38 from verse 37. Many of our translations have a subheader right before v. 38, and that plays tricks on our minds because it subtly indicates that this is a different strain of thought. Not so. Jesus just said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”.
Jesus tells him, “Don’t stop him!!! If He’s truly working in my name (which was apparent by his successfully exorcising a demon), then he won’t turn against me anytime soon — he is a true servant of God!”
We often believe that in order for someone to be our brother or sister or for us to fellowship with them, they have to believe exactly as we do in every single point. Is this what Jesus had in mind? Are we being more stringent than even our Lord was being?
There’s a poem by an anonymous that really sums up this mindset:
Believe as I believe, no more no less,
That I am right, and no one else confess.
Feel as I feel, think as I think,
Eat what I eat, and drink but what I drink,
Look as I look, do always as I do,
Then and only then, I’ll fellowship with you.
This type of exclusivism runs rampant in our world and in our flesh! We have to be discerning as to what God has set up as the appropriate and perfect standard and what our standard is!
(From a sermon from 2005.)