We see one of the most profoundly joyful moments in the gospels here in Luke 10:23. The 72 disciples have returned from their first missions and they are ecstatic with the news that even demons have been subject to them in Jesus’ name. (verse 17) When they report this to Jesus, he says something very revealing, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.” (verse 18) And though the disciples have been successful in Jesus’ name, they are as yet not fully aware of who he truly is.
Jesus gives them every evidence of who he is, but the disciples, human beings that they are, remain still a bit mystified, though deeply moved by the power that Jesus reveals. Jesus is pleased with them in any case. They are showing that their faith is strong and growing. He tells them that he has given them the power to, “tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.” (verse 19) Now, this kind of news can tend to go the heads of those who are not truly grounded in humility and the knowledge that such things could never come from human auspices. And Jesus is aware of the vagaries of human ego. This is why he says to them immediately after these words: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because you names are written in heaven.” (verse 20)
Then we see Jesus give proper and joyous praise to his Father, who is Lord of heaven and earth, for the gift of faith he has given to these disciples, and to us today. Though this gift is so often hidden from the high and the mighty, and those who consider themselves wise in the ways of the world, it was, and is, the Father’s will to give it to the disciples, and to us, the childlike. Jesus’ prayer of praise continues within the hearing of the disciples. “All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (verse 22)
Then, Jesus turns to the disciples, and to us, and he says, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see.” From the beginning of time not many prophets or kings, for that matter have had the graceful privilege to “see” Jesus and, in doing so, to come to know the Father. What a privileged moment it was for the 72 to be present to that moment. What a privilege it is for those who believe in Jesus today, for, as a result of our faith, he has given us the same powers he gave to the 72. Yes, the names of those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and who profess this truth with their mouths and their lives, are written in heaven as well. Because of our faith in Jesus we have come to see and to know the Father. And because of this we have no reason to fear the full force of the enemy. The Holy Spirit is with us. Our names are written in heaven. Let us go forth praising God in all things, in all places. He will work his miracles through us, if we are humble and believe.
Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we lift up our hearts to you and bend our wills to you. In you alone do we live, move and have our being. Increase our faith. Build up our hope. Strengthen our love, so that we may be your good and faithful disciples in the world today. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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