Saving Grace

Jesus’ coming was for all mankind

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next morning say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. – Mark 9:38-41

God is no respecter of person. No one group has a monopoly on the gospel. Jesus died for all people – Jews and Gentiles.

In the gospel text, we are told that one of Jesus’ disciples, John, complained to Jesus that he saw a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He wanted Jesus to give him authority to stop this man because he did not belong to their group.

It is apparent that this disciple felt that only members of Jesus’ inner group were allowed to cast out demons. Consequently, they could not accept others having the same power as them.

Unfortunately, we in the church today, like that disciple, tend to think that we have a special claim on Jesus. Because we do, we sometimes isolate outsiders who come among us and seek to become part of our missions.

Research suggests that congregations are made up of little groups, which are difficult to infiltrate. Outsiders find it difficult to break into these groups. Many times, potential members become discouraged and move on because they cannot break into these tightly-knitted cliques.

Unfortunately, the members of the church do not know or believe that they are like that. Most church people will probably say that they are not like that, but they are.

Jesus calls us – and in fact compels us – to embrace the world in the name of Christ. We are to do so just as he embraces us in the name of God.

Jesus did not come into the world to cater to any special group. His coming into the world was for all mankind. Every person on the face of this earth has an opportunity to be saved.

The disciples were limiting God’s grace and power to their own very small group. Scripture tells us that Joshua, who served as Moses’ assistant, displayed the same isolationist attitude.

God had instructed Moses to invite 70 elders of the people to present themselves at the tent of meeting. When they did, God’s spirit descended upon them, and they began to prophesy. However, two of those elders did not show up. They stayed in the camp, yet they, too, prophesied. Joshua wanted to silence them. But Moses chided him for his suggestion.

Jesus showed the disciples that he did not oppose anyone who gave evidence that they loved him. Even though the man casting out demons was not of Jesus’ immediate group, he was doing so in the name of Jesus. Since he was, he was not against Jesus, therefore, Jesus told the disciples to leave him alone.

Christians should be happy when the kingdom of Christ is proclaimed. Some who proclaim the gospel may not always look or act like us in the organized church, but they, too, are God’s servants.

When the kingdom of God is being proclaimed, we should be happy. We in the church should embrace those who proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as we see others proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us be happy because the kingdom is being expanded. That is what we are all called to do. Don’t hinder the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus embraces all who are for him. We do not know who he did or did not call. Whoever is not against us is for us. Amen.

• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail:; website:

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