He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
We need to understand what the Lord is talking about in this passage. In the past, I’ve heard it misapplied all over the place.
Jesus is talking to His disciples. These are the people He has set apart for the leadership of the church. They were also specifically chosen to minister to Israel – God’s covenant people (Matthew 10:5-6). So the Lord is talking about receiving a covenant child in His name.
As the disciples are listening to Him, they have an “Aha! moment”. They realize that Jesus is not just talking about physical children. They’re beginning to understand His teaching style. They apply what He says to an incident that recently happened to them.
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
They remember telling someone to stop driving out demons in the name of Jesus. But their reasoning is important to us. The Greek verse literally says that the disciples told him to stop because he did not follow us.
Notice that it wasn’t because he didn’t follow Christ, but that he didn’t follow the disciples. We know from the last post that they had a high opinion of themselves. After all, they gave up everything to follow Christ. This man, who was driving out demons, didn’t.
On the other hand, even though he didn’t give up everything to follow Jesus, he had the evidence of the power of God operating in his ministry. He also must have understood a lot of the Lord’s teachings. People were being delivered as he preached Christ.
This is where we are at our point in history. Many Christian denominations are a part of the spiritual landscape before us. What did the Lord say about this?
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
By saying this, Jesus has settled the matter of denominations. Do all of them follow Christ to the same degree? Obviously not. But that’s not the issue. The question is; are they operating in the name of Jesus?
Jesus is telling His disciples that you don’t have to be a super-apostle, trained by Jesus Christ, Himself, in order to get a reward. If you’ve trusted Christ for your salvation, and your calling is as simple as giving water to someone, you’ll have a reward for fulfilling that calling.
We may not all be in the same denomination, but we must all receive each other in the name of Jesus Christ.
Question: How have you learned to respect other believers who don’t worship as you do?
© 2018 Nick Zaccardi