”And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”— Mark 9:38-42

Many years ago I heard a quip which has stayed with me, it went, ‘There are two kinds of people in this world, those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and the rest of us who live in the real world’. This little witticism helped me step back from always seeing the issues of life in black and white.

A divine distinction

However, we shall not be able to get away from this stark implication in our verses today. We shall see that in at least one very important aspect there are but two kinds of people in this world. There are the righteous and the wicked and the word of God draws an absolute distinction between the two. There are those who stand perfectly justified in God’s sight, pure and holy in Christ, and those who do not. You either belong to Christ or you do not.

A separated people

This division is found in many of the Lord’s lessons; the good seed and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the wise virgins and the foolish virgins, those who build upon solid ground and those who build on sand, the children within the kingdom of God and those who are without. The difference in every case arises from the grace of God alone. In today’s passage the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples again confirms this scriptural distinction. ‘He that is not against us, is on our part.’

A valuable lesson

Following the Lord’s lesson about receiving a little child in the name of Christ, John is quick to ask a question. Perhaps the youthful disciple felt a pang of conscience at having rebuked one who was casting out devil’s in Christ’s name. True, he was not one of the twelve, and we don’t know who he was, but certain it is he was led and enabled to do what he did so this truth might be learned by the Apostles and conveyed for all time to the Lord’s people.

Too party-minded?

We all tend to be like John, party-minded and restrictive when it comes to scripture, as though we have the monopoly on truth and any who differ from us are either stupid or deceived. A little humility would go a long way to remind us grace and salvation is the Lord’s work and not ours, and it is He who makes us differ from another. This anonymous man did, indeed, cast out devils in Jesus’ name and nothing that is truly done in Jesus’ name will fail or endanger His work.

The Lord knows

Giving a cup of water is the smallest of gestures but it will have its reward when given in Jesus’ name to one of Christ’s people. On the other side, offending one of the Lord’s little ones does not go unnoticed or unpunished. The Lord Himself says so. No kindness goes unseen and no offence is overlooked when done to one who belongs to Christ. God is jealous for His people.

A privileged people

Belonging to Christ is the greatest privilege in this world. It is a gift of absolute grace and the source of every blessing in time and eternity. To be the Lord’s property, and in Christ’s possession, binds the Lord’s people together and sets them apart from every other person in this world. Nothing touches them that does not touch Him, and nothing pleases them that does not please Him. There are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who belong to Christ and those who do not.


Peter Meney


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