Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 9:38-50.
As we pointed out in the foregoing message, in verse 38 John said to the Lord Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name who does not follow us, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” This was John’s impetuous act as a son of thunder. This act was against the virtue of the Slave-Savior whom he accompanied. This is proved by the Lord’s response in verse 39: “Do not forbid him, for there is no one who shall do a work of power in My name and be able soon to speak evil of Me.” Here we see the Slave-Savior’s tolerance, in the practice of the gospel service, toward His believers who were different from those closer to Him.
In verses 40 through 50 there are many puzzling things. In verse 40 the Lord Jesus says, “For he who is not against us is for us.” For years I was bothered by this verse and had trouble understanding it, because I thought that it contradicted the Lord’s word in Matthew 12:30. Actually there is no contradiction between these verses. Both issued from the Slave-Savior’s mouth and may be considered maxims. The maxim in 9:40 speaks of the outward formality in practice regarding those who are not against the Slave-Savior (v. 39). The maxim in Matthew speaks of inward unity for purpose regarding those who are against Him (Matt. 12:24). To maintain inward unity we need to practice the word in Matthew, and for the outward formality we should practice the word here and tolerate believers who are different from us.
In 9:41 the Lord goes on to say, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name because you are Christ’s, truly I say to you that he shall by no means lose his reward.” In verse 38 we see how John behaved as one who dealt with others. The Slave-Savior’s wise word in verse 40 turned him and the other disciples to be those cared for by others. This implied that whether it was they or other believers—all were under the Lord’s care because all were His. Whether it was their treatment of the other believers or other believers’ treatment of them, if it was in the Lord’s name, even the giving of a cup of water would be rewarded by Him.
In verse 41 the Lord speaks of someone giving a disciple a cup of water in His name because he is Christ’s. This indicates that the Slave-Savior recognized that the one forbidden by John was a genuine believer and that he belonged to Him. This should have been a lesson to John.
In 9:41 the Lord says that the one who gives a disciple a cup of water “shall by no means lose his reward.” This reward will be given in the coming kingdom age (Luke 14:14). The reward mentioned here is something in addition to eternal salvation. Eternal salvation is by faith, having nothing to do with our work (Eph. 2:8-9), whereas reward is for our work after we are saved (1 Cor. 3:8, 14). It is possible that we shall fail to receive a reward but instead suffer loss, even though we are saved, because we are lacking in the work which the Lord can approve (1 Cor. 3:15). At the Lord’s coming back the reward will be given to us according to our works (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12; 1 Cor. 4:5). It will be decided by the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) and enjoyed in the coming kingdom (Matt. 25:21, 23).
In Mark 9:42 the Lord continues, “And whoever stumbles one of these little ones who believe, it is better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck, and he be thrown into the sea.” Here the Slave-Savior turns the subject from John and the other disciples to His believers in general, all of whom He considers little ones (not related to the little children in verse 37), including John, the other disciples, and the one forbidden by them. This may be regarded as a warning to John and the other disciples not to cause to stumble any one of His believers who differed from them in following Him.
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