Then His disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He brought a little child to His side. Then He said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me also welcomes My Father who sent Me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using Your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.” Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”Luke 9:46-50
So did you do some thinking about the apparent contradiction? More importantly did you get it resolved? Firstly, why is Luke’s quote of what Jesus said phrased as “Anyone who is not against you is for you” while Mark’s account renders Jesus statement as “Anyone who is not against us is for us.” The difference here is the focus on “us” or “you”. As you know from what I said yesterday, John’s comments were very disciple focused. John wasn’t thinking too much of an all inclusive “us” which included Jesus too. It was not the mission of Christ and the extension of the Kingdom of God over the works of the enemy that held John’s attention. Rather it was the parochial patch protection of the disciples themselves and their indignation that this person was doing what they had failed at and he hadn’t even been with Jesus like they had. I don’t imagine that Jesus made both of these statements in this context. I think the default statement he made was probably Mark’s. It is likely that Luke altered it to fit the context of John’s statement. As Mark’s is the first gospel it more likely Luke has changed the traditional statement to fit the context.
The other issue we need to address is the difference between what Jesus said in this context we are looking at in Luke 9 and what He said in the context of the statements of the strongman guarding the house in Luke 11:23.
Anyone who is not against us is for us.Mark 9:40
Anyone who isn’t with Me opposes Me, and anyone who isn’t working with Me is actually working against Me.Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23
Why does Jesus make the completely opposite statement here? Which is true? How do we make sense of this and reconcile the two statements?
If you consider the statements carefully although they appear to be diametrically opposed they are in fact stating the same thing. Both imply it is impossible to be neutral with Christ. You are either for Him or against Him. To be neutral when commitment is called for is to reject Him. Does it remind you of Jesus statement in Revelation where He wants us to be either hot or cold; if we are lukewarm He will spit us out? It sure reminds me of that verse. The verses in focus in Luke 9:50 and Mark 9:40 are the test for the disciples, or for any disciples who would follow. If they are not against you then they are for you, so permit them to join you. Don’t forbid them to be a part of the body like you did the man who was casting out demons in My name. But as I stated above the difference is one of emphasis between you (exclusive) and us (inclusive), countering John’s (and the other disciples mindset). It is perfectly suited to the context in which Jesus made it.
Take note of the context in which the other verses (Matt 12:30, Luke 11:23) are made. This is an open confrontation against Jesus and who He is, where the claim is made that He is linked to Beelzebub. Here the challenge is an open attack on Jesus, not a problem the disciples have about who should join them. This is set in the midst of the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Here Jesus calls for commitment on the part of the disciples themselves and anyone who would follow Him. You are either 100% committed and for Him or you are effectively against Him. Measure yourself against this statement. With the other statement it is meant to be the test by which we gauge others. Cut others some slack. Allow them time to grow. But be ruthless on yourself. Don’t allow the flesh or the devil any leeway. Both statements make perfect sense in the context in which they are used.
It is better to be kind than to be right.Jamie Buckingham
Most Christians have repented enough to be forgiven but not enough to see the Kingdom.Bill Johnson
It’s easy finding reasons why other folks should do what we don’t.Ian Vail
God does not measure a person by one decision, nor should we.Max Lucado
Please be patient with me; God is not finished with me yet.Ian Vail
You cannot change someone else. Let everybody off the potter’s wheel and stop trying to be the potter.Joyce Meyer