URC Daily Devotions Friday, 23 February 2024

St Mark 9: 38 – 41

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’  But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.  For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.


By invoking Jesus’ name, the rogue exorcist publicly put himself in harm’s way. Jesus had many enemies. They killed him, and sought the same end for his followers. Even offering a cup of water in Jesus’ name took courage. Anyone invoking Jesus’ name was willing to have those same powerful enemies and face that end, too.  

The exorcist made good use of Jesus’ name: casting out demons. And though I have never been called to conduct the exorcism of a demon, some of my colleagues assure me it is still a done thing. However, I and many other Christians invoke the name of Jesus to exorcise all sorts of other evil, including loneliness, mouldy housing, incurious and tepid faith, exclusionary faith, despair, unjust wages, hunger, racism, patriarchy, violence against women, and war, to name a few.  

Following Jesus is costly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, ‘When Christ calls a [person], he bids [them] come and die.’* Discipleship cost Bonhoeffer his life, too. To follow Christ is to be willing to go into harm’s way, even to the point of death. But to follow Christ is to put away the fear of death. We hold fast to the resurrection—God’s way of refusing for the world to ever be without the redeeming power of love. This is our truth. 

As with the rogue exorcist, therefore, take courage: invoke the name of Jesus, offer cups of water to a thirsty world, and exorcise that which is evil. Thanks be to God for you.

God, grant us the courage to invoke your name without fear even to the point of death. Let us answer your call to discipleship and participate in your exorcism of evils in this world. Amen. 
*amended for inclusive language.

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