Today’s Reading: Luke 10-11
Today’s Reflection: Luke 10:17-20
17) The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18) And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19) Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20) Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
I can imagine the combination of fear and excitement that must have accompanied the 72 disciples Jesus had trained and sent out to spread the Gospel. I can imagine how heart-lifting it must have been to see lives transformed by the good news of Jesus the Messiah. I can imagine the frustration of encountering people who were suffering, yet refused to receive the truth of Christ with joy and gladness. Most of all, I can imagine the amazement as they performed their first miracles: healings and the casting out of demons and evil spirits. I can imagine turning to my fellow disciple and going, “did you see that?!?” (then quickly adding a, “praise God!” to make clear I wasn’t trying to take the credit).
So it’s not surprising to see the disciples return, joyous, buoyant, triumphant and boasting of the miracles wrought in His name. Jesus response to them is interesting. Did you find it odd that He began by speaking of the fall of Satan? What caused Satan’s fall?
Isaiah 14:13-14 – 13) You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
In a word, it was pride. So focused on his wondrous gifts, Lucifer forgot something much greater: the giver of those gifts. So enamored was he of his power he began to think he could wield it without restraint or accountability. Lucifer came to see God not as the source of his power, but as an obstacle to it, setting himself on a course to self-destruction, and carrying many along with him.
So Jesus reminds His disciples that yes, He’s given them power to overcome the demonic powers of the enemy. But this was not the point. The point was their power came from being connected to Jesus, from following Jesus, from learning from Jesus and from obeying Jesus. From loving and being loved by Jesus. Their power came from receiving Jesus as their savior and their lord, and by this entering the kingdom of God and eternal life. This was the point.
And as a result of entering the kingdom through Jesus, they could manifest the power of the kingdom: reversing sickness, poverty, slavery to sin, overcoming the enemy, and even overcoming death itself. But these were the side-effects of salvation through Jesus. Salvation through Jesus was the point. Salvation in Jesus was the reason for rejoicing, boasting and excitement.
For what is the point of miracles, preaching, prophesying and performing signs and wonders if you wind up cast out of the kingdom of God for all eternity? Wouldn’t that be a tragedy?
Matthew 7:21-23 – 21) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’