An interesting point here is how, after each of three passion predictions by Jesus in the gospel, Mark records how his closest disciples (James, John and Peter) did not understand the significance of unfolding events.
Here it is John, speaking for all the others. The irony is that they try to stop an unknown healer acting in Jesus’ name, when shortly before they could not do exactly that. The fact that this man could heal in Jesus’ name points to the intriguing reality of an authentic, active disciple inknown to the 12.
But the point is not only their limited understanding of Jesus’ mission, but their limited view of the kingdom work of God. Anyone working for the cause of Jesus, cannot be against him. Even anyone who helps a disciple by offering a cup of water identifies with Jesus himself and will be rewarded. Whether big (healing in Jesus’ name) or small (offering a cup of water) what matters is faith in and obedience to Jesus. It is his followers, not the Lord who are keen to draw boundaries over who can be considered a legitimate disciple.
Forgive us Lord when we imagine that we are indispensible to your kingdom; when we judge others who bear your name; and when we draw our own limits to what you can do. Warm our hearts and enlarge our vision of your kingdom. Amen.
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us
38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward