John interrupted Jesus in Mark 9: 38. I imagine this to be one of the reasons the disciples had to be told stuff over and over. All of the disciples seemed excited and enthusiastic and talkative. But John’s statement here revealed his opinion and maybe a little about his indignation toward an outsider. This outsider was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. Hmm. Earlier in this chapter (vs. 18) the other disciples had been unable to cast out a demon; Jesus stepped in and solved the problem (see previous post). The disciples couldn’t do it and now they were complaining about this other person who IS successful. Why? Because “he’s not one of us”, said John. “We told him to stop.”
John seemed to conclude that they had done right by telling someone who wasn't a disciple to quit using the name of Jesus to cast out demons.
There were exorcists casting out demons before Jesus came on the scene and for centuries after. But they weren't always successful. Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian apologist, recorded that Jewish exorcisms failed when the exorcist tried to cast out a demon by commanding it in the name of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." However, they were very successful when they commanded it under "the name of the Son of God, who was born of a virgin, and crucified under Pontius Pilate."
In verse 39 Jesus told John that it was wrong to stop the outsider. “For whoever is not against us is for us.” We need to keep that in mind and not bicker among ourselves. No particular Christian denomination has exclusive rights to Christianity. We may differ in points of doctrine, but we belief in the same Savior.
Clearly, Jesus' words here convey a rebuke against sectarianism and vanity. What do you think?