Luke 9:49, 50
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name; and we forbade him, because he follows not with us.…
We do well to take together this passage and that of Luke 11:23. For one is the complement of the other. "He that is not against us is for us;" "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth." There is not the slightest inconsistency between these two declarations of our Lord. One states one truth, and the other a different one. They teach successively -
I. THAT WE ARE IN DANGER OF COUNTING AMONG OUR OPPONENTS THOSE WHOM WE SHOULD RECKON AS ALLIES. It did not seem to be a service of any particular account that a man should use the name of Jesus to exorcise demons, even though he may have had a measure of success in his attempts. But Christ said he was not to be "forbidden" as an outsider, but rather hailed as a friend and as an ally. What, then, would he not say now of those who go so far towards the fullest declaration of his truth as many thousands do, but who remain outside the particular Church with which we may be connected? Would he have us blame and brand these because they "follow not with us"? The spirit of persecution is cruel, foolish, and emphatically unchristian. Rather let us rejoice that there are found so many who, while not feeling it right to connect themselves with our organization, are yet loving the same Lord and serving the same cause. These are not our enemies; they are our allies.
II. THAT WE CANNOT WITHHOLD OUR EARNEST THOUGHT AND DELIBERATE CHOICE FROM CHRIST without being counted by him as his enemies. "He that is not with me is against me," etc. There is no neutrality in the great campaign now being fought out between sin and righteousness. In great European wars it is customary for generals and correspondents from other countries, not involved in the strife, to attend the movements and watch the operations of the armies; they, of course, are strictly neutral. But in this great spiritual campaign we cannot be mere spectators; we must be soldiers fighting on one side or on the other. For we are all deeply involved; we are implicated in what is past; we are interested in the issue; we have great responsibilities resting on us; we have great things at stake. God is addressing himself to every one of us, and it is not open to any of us to refuse to take up a decisive attitude in regard to the subjects of his address.
1. He speaks to us of himself. He makes himself known to us as our Creator, our Preserver, our generous Benefactor; he makes his appeal to us as our Divine Father, who earnestly desires our return to his home that he may bless us with his parental love. Can we possibly remain unaffected by this? Is not our very silence a most grievous offence and injury? Not to respond to him is to sin grievously against him.
2. He comes to us in the Person of his Son Jesus Christ. And he offers himself to us as the Redeemer who at the greatest possible price has wrought out our redemption, as the Divine Friend in the shelter of whose love and power we may spend our days, as the Source of our eternal life. Can we possibly take up a position toward him in which we are neither one thing nor another - neither enemy nor subject? Can we do other than either accept him or reject him?
3. He summons us to his service, and to the service of our kind. We are to be "living epistles," making known his truth, revealing to men the goodness of God, the grace of Christ, the excellency of his service. We are to bear witness unto him. Either our life is witnessing for him and for his truth, or our influence is thrown into the other scale. Those who know us are either being attracted toward Christ through all they see and know about us, or they are being repelled. We cannot be cyphers, try how we may. Our lives are telling on one side or on the other. Either we gather with Christ or we scatter abroad. We must make our choice. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.