49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. Lk. 9:49-50
The disciples were highly displeased that someone – one outside their immediate grouping – could have the nerve to do what they were doing. They were so vexed they commanded him to desist from doing miracles in Jesus’ Name! Wonders!!
And when they came to Jesus they told Him, “We stopped that man from casting out demons in your name because he is not one of us”. Apparently, stopping that man was one of the highlights of their ‘ministry’!
But Jesus replied, “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”
Jesus said, “If that man is casting out demons in My name, then he is one of us. He is part of our team.”
The apostles were stunned. They must have always assumed that they had a monopoly over anything to do with Jesus, and here Jesus was telling them that it was okay for someone outside their circle to go and do what only they should have been doing!
Much of the time we are like these disciples of Jesus. When the flesh is alive in us we ascribe so much to ourselves, and we ascribe so little to others. And in any setting we are always careful to reserve the topmost rung of the ladder for ourselves!
But notice that this man was actually casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He was doing something completely spiritual. Unlike the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14), there was no doubt that what this man had was from God. I am of the opinion that he was even doing more than the apostles were!
Jesus recognized what this man was doing, and Jesus knew that He had a teammate in this man. Jesus was not about any groupings in the natural. Jesus’ group was in the Spirit.
Jesus demonstrated humility in His response here. Jesus was both God and man, and He came to earth as a man. As a man, therefore, He could have been tempted to question why this man was casting out demons without His authority. This was exactly what His disciples did.
But Jesus humbly accepted the ministry that He saw in this man. Jesus did not ask, “What denomination does this man come from?” Nor did he ask, “Has he been to Bible school?”. Or, “Does he have a licence?” (It was clear this man had never been ordained by anyone)
In fact, Jesus did not ask anything about this man.
When we recognize something of God in the Spirit, we dispense with all the outside baggage. It doesn’t matter what that person’s name is, nor where they come from. I am sure Jesus must have been thinking of His disciples, ‘Poor guys. How can you stop someone from doing something that has been granted him by God?’
This man (whose name is not even mentioned in the account) may not have been physically in Jesus’ team, but in the Spirit he was, and Jesus endorsed him.
Ministry is all about serving God in one spirit, and in unity of heart. If a brother is serving God in Spirit and in truth, don’t miss the opportunity to link up with him by emphasizing on outer trivialities.
The Corinthian church was very much taken up with outside appearances, and they were the worse for it. In fact, unbelievable as it may seem, these guys had a problem with Paul’s outer appearance. Apparently, Paul lacked some outer qualities that other “mighty men of God” had.
That reminds me of a visiting preacher who held a massive crusade in our town many years ago. This man was tall and handsome and extremely entertaining. When he strutted on stage, all the women in town, saved and unsaved, fell at his feet. (At the end of the meeting, he went off with one of them for, unbeknown to us, he was an adulterer of the worst kind).
Anyway, on his last meeting, which fell on a Sunday, our entire church walked out on our pastor, such was our thirst to be ministered to by this new charismatic preacher. I am not lying: the pastor was left alone in church together with my newly-wed wife, just the two of them. My wife had had a taste of the gospel of the cross before we married, and she would not be easily fooled.
I led the calvary charge in our quest to go and be “blessed”. We had no idea the fellow was a crook and that we were being conned in the Spirit. I thank God I went back to church and today I am still with my long-suffering pastor.
Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” 2 Cor 10:7
If we look on things on the outside and are not humble enough to recognize and acknowledge the ministries in the Spirit, we will never build teams in the Spirit. Instead we will be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and by the cunning of men, as the scriptures say.
[Below: A team of city cleaners sweep up a street in Dar es Salaam]