No one, I’m prepared to announce, has figured out this text, but it needs to be factored in if we want to sketch all the texts about missional Jesus. So, let’s first read Mark 9:38-41 and then I’ll offer some suggestions:
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, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I 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.
1. I start with this: Missional Jesus is in no need of our protection. He can make it on his own, so whatever he says is what he says — whatever we think.
2. A man is doing miracles “in Jesus’ name.” This isn’t any old miracle worker. He’s drawing on Jesus’ power. V. 41 makes this point again.
3. But, missional Jesus broadens the playing floor by including this man when his disciples have serious hesitations, as lots of Christians have hesitations today about others. Missional Jesus clarifies why this man has to be accepted: “however is not against us is for us.”
4. Mark 9:40 runs into Matthew 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Luke has both of these: 9:50 and 11:23.
5. There is a difference, and now we might think of Matt 7:6 and the parable of the hogs and dogs, between sworn enemies and unaffiliated sympathizers.
6. Jesus is against cliquishness.
RT France: “The man concerned is not a recognised member of the group of disciples, but he does profess to operate in the name of Jesus, and the results of his activity are beneficent” (Mark, 376).