The disciples in our passage thought they were part of something exclusive. They were part of Jesus’ official disciples, and for that matter, part of his inner circle of twelve who followed him everywhere. And so when they encountered a man who was casting out demons in the name of Christ, but who wasn’t part of their ordinary group of followers of Jesus, they objected. They tried to stop the man because he wasn’t one of them. The disciples evidently thought they were part of something exclusive.
And in one sense, they were right. The Christian message is in many ways an exclusive message with exclusive claims. For example, Jesus says that salvation is only through him. In some important ways, however, Christianity can be very inclusive. For example, Jesus calls us to deliver the gospel of salvation to everyone in the world.
But looking specifically at our passage for today: Did the disciples do the right thing here? Jesus says no, and teaches them more about being a part of his kingdom. The disciples didn’t properly understand the scope of Christ’s kingdom. And so as we think about the exclusiveness and the inclusiveness of Christ, we have to look to Christ to define that for us. In other words, we see the disciples here didn’t fully understand what made someone a part of Christ’s kingdom. And so we’ll look today at what Christ teaches us about who is with him and who is not.
Passage: Mark 9:38-41
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 09/07/2008 in Novato, CA.