Vol.VIII No.VII Pg.1
September 1971

Those Other Sinners

Robert F. Turner

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. (Lu. 9:49)

Answered what? The word may mean, began to speak but Vine says always where something has preceded, either statement or act to which the remarks refer. The Harper—Bagster Lexicon says, in N.T. to respond to certain present circum- stances. What brought on Johns remarks about the man he had forbidden?

The preceding verses show that the Disciples had been disputing about who among them should be greatest, and Jesus had rebuked them for their pride. (See Mk. 9:33-37) John is not named specifically, but other passages say James and John accompanied their mother when she asked Jesus to seat them in high positions in His kingdom. (Matt. 20:20-f) Was the woman alone in her desire for greatness? I believe the sons must share the blame and that John (perhaps James, also) was enough involved in the arguments about greatness that Jesus rebuke carried a special sting.. Is it not a well established trait of human nature that when the sermon fits, we try to change the subject? Our personal defense is to launch our own attack upon someone else. If, in this new battle, we can make our former critic an ally, perhaps he will forget all about the fault he saw in us. The shoe fits — so we try to find a different shoe, for someone else.

When John felt the sting of the Lords rebuke to pride, he answered by saying, in effect, Master, we (James also?) saw this outsider doing wrongly, and we really jumped on him. We let him have it!!

Even if Johns judgement was right and his actions respecting the second man justified, this would not remove Johns fault. How embarrassing to discover he was again wrong. Jesus said, Forbid him not. . .

Will we never learn — a second error does not correct the first — we can not grow by causing others to appear smaller — and, final judgement is on an individual basis, by One who sees and knows our very thoughts