Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An unbeliever casts out demons in Jesus' name

3.10.2015 Tuesday of Lent 3       Mark 9:35-50 An unbeliever casts out demons in Jesus’ name

Jesus refuses to forbid a non-follower from using His name to cast out demons and urges the extermination of those sins that result in hell. He will then refer to “the little ones”. Any sacrifice is worth eternal life rather than going to hell forever which is described as eternal torment. Finally, Jesus will deal with salt. It is a call to radical obedience rather than to accommodation to the world.[2]

There is a definite measure of greatness according to Jesus’ standard. That standard of greatness is found in verse 35 of our text, “If anyone wants to be first he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” By Jesus’ standard, greatness is found in serving. Serving places others before yourself.

Paul put it this way, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.” (Philippians 2:3) Striving to be served is the goal of this self-centered world. Servant-hood is a mark of the Christian.

Rank or standing in God’s kingdom is not determined by strips on a sleeve or at the bottom of a balance sheet, or whom you know of what you’ve done. There is not one person who is better or worse than another. We are all sinner. We deserve nothing but punishment. Yet, by the grace of God found in Jesus Christ, we have each been given a gift of His divine grace.

Jesus tells us that the greatest mark of servant-hood is for one to lay down his life for another, which is precisely what He had done for you. The Father serves up His son on the cross that we in turn might serve each other.

Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Humility and servant-hood in the life the Christian go hand in hand. Jesus has proved for us the Gospel power to be first by being last and servant of all. The world will continue to tell us that social rank and status determined by the bottom line and personal accomplishments is the mark and measure of greatness. Don’t listen to these competing voices. Listen to the voice of your Shepherd. Being last and the servant of all is the measure and mark of greatness in His kingdom. That is the difference, and it can only be comprehended and understood by faith. May our prayer today be simply this, “Lord, humble me, and teach me to be a servant.”

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom you have given a fervent desire to pray, may, by your mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg. 272 © 1981, CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Co0llect for Tuesday of Lent 3, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

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