Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.” (Mark 9:38-40)
On The Side Of Jesus
During the ministry of Jesus, God allowed demons to spirit among men in a limited way. Demon possession is a rare occasion save the presence of a greater power to rule over them. The purpose of allowing the evil spirits to possess men during the work of Jesus was for Him to show His power over all things, earthly and spiritual. Jesus could heal all diseases, raise the dead, and perform any miracle, but if He did not demonstrate His power over Satan himself, His Sonship would have been compromised.
The apostle John had found someone casting out demons in the name of Jesus, and it confused the apostle because he did not understand how that was possible if the man was not part of the group following Jesus. John witnessed the great power of Jesus to cast out demons. The Lord had given John and the other eleven the power to cast out demons. When John saw this man casting out demons who was not an apostle or one of the ones sent out by Jesus, he took offense, as did the others. It was not right for a man to cast out demons if he was not part of the group.
Jesus mildly rebukes John and the others for not understanding the complexity of His ministry. He told them that no one could cast out demons unless they had the power of the Holy Spirit. In His sermon on the mountain, Jesus mentioned those who said they cast out demons in His name but were not doing the will of the Father. They were false followers of Jesus. A man can say he is casting out demons in the name of Jesus, but if the Finger of God does not grant him power, he is a liar. The one John saw casting out demons obviously had the authority of God. If a man is acting under the authority and power of God, he is not to be forbidden.
When a man shows the power of God by casting out a demon, he will not speak evil of Christ. Jesus teaches the disciples that many did not follow their group but were followers of Jesus doing His will. The man casting out demons was not to be forbidden as he was a chosen disciple of God to do the work of ministry, which included casting out demons. Jesus reminds the disciples that if a man has the power to cast out demons, he works on behalf of the Heavenly Father. Rather than rebuke the man, the disciples needed to embrace him as part of the broader picture of the work of Jesus.
There is a broader application for those who seek to follow Jesus today. Many confess to being followers of Jesus. Some seduce the crowds with works of miracles and healing. Applying the words of Jesus, a man is found to be false or true by the results of his actions. The man John saw actually cast out a demon. He was a faithful follower of the teachings of Christ. When a man claims to cast out demons today, heal the sick, and raise the dead, proof comes in the application. There are no demon-possessed people today as there were in the time of Jesus. If there are faith healers in the world today, why have so many people died of COVID and a host of other diseases? No one has raised another from the dead. Why? They are false teachers.
This story also shows the danger of so many churches. Many profess to be the church of the Lord but are found false. The evidence of any church being the one true church, the New Testament church, is found in the application of what they teach, how they teach, and the authority of their faith. Jesus said many would say they are His followers, but they do not do the will of the Father. If a man follows the teachings of Jesus and abides by His will, he is not to be challenged. Whoever is not against Jesus is on the side of Jesus. Which side are you on?