Rather, Jesus' statement refers to a particular situation, as he was facing numerous adversaries in the form of ecclesiastical Jewish officials, Roman officials, tax collectors, and two groups of Jews, the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
Beyond that, the Jewish society Jesus lived among was occupied and controlled by the Romans. People were being beaten and crucified all the time for the most minor things - such as speaking to a Centurian in the wrong way (according to the historian Josephus). So people were nervous and fearful. This made them resistant to the teachings of a seeming outsider - as Jesus' teachings were controversial.
'Not one of us'
In this environment, Jesus is responding specifically to one of his students, John, who stated:
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” (Luke 9:49)The phrase "he is not one of us" assumes John is thinking that in order to follow Jesus' teachings, one must be part of the group. This is not true. Thus Jesus did not see any harm in this person casting out demons in his name.
This verse also makes it clear that it was not as though anyone who drove out demons in Jesus' name was acceptable to Jesus. This is confirmed by another clear statement:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matt. 7:21-23)We see from this above statement that driving out demons in Jesus' name in itself is not what Jesus wants. This is not necessarily Jesus' mission. If Jesus' mission were to drive out demons then anyone who was driving out demons would be pleasing to Jesus. Yet in the above statement, Jesus calls them "evildoers". Why?
What is an 'evildoer?'
An "evildoer" in this context is someone who is self-serving. They are doing something - whatever it is - to promote themselves or their own agenda. This is the opposite of what Jesus was teaching. Jesus was promoting the Supreme Being. He was promoting God's agenda: Doing God's will.
Jesus wants us to love and serve the Supreme Being. This is what "only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" means.
Thus Jesus is not concerned about whether or not the person John is referring to was a member of the group that followed Jesus - or was not a disciple of Jesus. This was not Jesus' concern. If Jesus' concern was related to having many followers, then he would have been concerned about someone using his name without being amongst his direct followers.
Think about it. Let's say that a follower of one of today's big professional evangelists reports to the evangelist that someone is doing healings or demon castings in the evangelist's name, but they are not a member of the evangelist's church. Or perhaps one of the ecclesiastical church organization officials finds out that someone is using the name of their sect without their permission. What will happen?
The evangelist or church organization will likely go to an attorney and file a lawsuit against the outlier for using the evangelist's or church's name without permission. They'll likely obtain a cease and desist order against the person using the name without permission. Why?
It is the same reason why so many churches like to be called the "First X Church of X." It is about brand. Being "first" is directly tied to brand-building.
Today's professional churches and evangelists promote themselves to build their brand. Why?
The answer relates directly to the mission of that evangelist and/or church. What is their motivation for expanding their organization?
It is gaining followers.
It is gaining more contributions to fatten the incomes of the evangelists and church organizers.Why else would they be so intent upon building their brand? If their intent was to save people - as they often proclaim - then their focus would not be upon their name or brand. It would be upon that which saves people - Jesus' teachings.
(One might suggest that many followers of these sects and churches will also work to attract followers to their church, yet they seemingly receive no compensation. Why are they doing it? While certainly some innocent good-hearted followers may feel that bringing in someone in to join the church will save them, many will do this to gain the acceptance of others within the church: They are looking to build their own name and reputation within their community of church followers.)
We can see from Jesus' statements quoted above that Jesus wasn't interested in building his reputation or brand. Jesus was only interested in teaching people about loving God and doing God's will. He was only interested in saving people by giving them love for the Supreme Being. He wasn't concerned about his own brand.
This is also why Jesus sent out his disciples to teach the same teachings he had taught them. He did not send them out to build his brand, or collect followers for his church (which he never had). He told them clearly:
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12)He also told them:
"As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'" (Matt. 10:7)which was the same thing John taught:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt. 3:1-2)And Jesus taught his students:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt. 4:17)So we see that Jesus' interest was in giving people the truth - the same truth that was taught by his teacher, John the Baptist (click on the last verse for the meaning of this teaching).
Jesus wasn't trying to create a large following
Jesus wasn't interested in collecting followers or making a big church or sect. He wanted each of his disciples to become a teacher, and pass the message of love for God on to others.
But professional teachers - those who collect salaries for their teaching positions - automatically have another agenda. Their survival is linked to the success of their organization and their personal name and reputation. If they say the wrong thing or offend someone in church they could lose their job. Or if they say the wrong thing on TV they could lose sponsors and contributors.
They have a different agenda than Jesus had. Jesus did not care about his reputation or his good name. He didn't care about any organization or getting paid. He taught the truth, and suffered the consequences of doing that. He did the opposite of building his brand. He did the opposite of making money from his teachings.
By teaching the truth - and representing God - Jesus was tried and persecuted for those teachings. He gave up everything for his teachings. He lost his physical life and endured excruciating pain on behalf of those teachings.
And what was Jesus' most important teaching? What teaching was Jesus so focused upon that he would give his physical life for and endure so much physical pain for?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)