“Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.For he who is not against us is on our side.For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward”. – Mark 9: 33-38

It is an extraordinary awareness when we come to realize that in serving others with genuine desire we are serving Jesus. The joy of it is inherently met in equal measure with humility, and visa versa. In our deepest essence Jesus is the source of all good and the receiver of all good. (This is what angels always know in their heart). This perception, and especially acting on it, causes the magnification of love and awareness in our body and soul.

Jesus similarly says, ‘In as much as you do to these little ones you do to me’. So this is true in the positive and negative; when we harm someone with hate we are doing it to Jesus, we are trying to destroy the innocence in them that connects them to Jesus. This is a spiritually horrible thing to do (think millstones…)

In telling the disciples not to forbid the stranger Jesus is showing the disciples, and us, to not prejudge others who are different, or seem strange to us; for in spite of the differences their actions may lead to the same place but in a different way. As humans we all have inclinations to evil and tend to have prejudice toward what is familiar. We fight to selfishly protect our own – but in doing so we are constricting, closing, and losing ourself. We are buying into the influence of evil and selfish thinking. It is part of spiritual skill to stay open, to remain in connection to the soft self that yearns to be right with God and his purpose – as apposed to being right for ourself above others.

Just before this verse the disciples were competing with each other about who is the greatest. This kind competing becomes enmity and distances us from the Lord and others. So He told them, ‘He who is least shall be first and he who is first shall be last’. The one who seeks in heart and deed to serve others, who is able to put himself aside is in a higher state spiritually. This is the nature of truth and good; they are the most internal. In the ultimate God is all powerful because He is all good, and thus He is the innermost of all things.

Dealing with the competitive nature of the world is not easy for us because it is important to both protect loved ones and our community from evil, and to serve the good; so we need to discern and stay open. To ‘do a miracle in His name’, or, ‘give a cup of water in His name’ is to submit to the Lord in ones heart and receive His love and wisdom. In this state one desires nothing more than to share with others.

Religious people have to learn that this is not magic, that it doesn’t happen by just repeating scripture, but that it is a process of developing internal skill. Jesus often says to come as a child which means we must feel the innocence in our soul and incorporate it with our mature intelligence. This allows us to receive him in humility and bond with Him throughout our life. Jesus does not literally expect us to do ‘miracles’; the real miracle is to transform our soul and do good to others, and thus become a heavenly person.

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