In Luke 10, Jesus sent out 70 disciples to do missionary work. After an undisclosed period of time, they returned. In verse 17, they were excited because they had experienced a new found power:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name (Luke 10:17).
While on their missionary work, they discovered that the power of Jesus’ name gave them power over the demons. There isn’t any other information about what it entailed, but Jesus had told them to heal the sick and call them to repentance (vv. 10-16). I’m sure there were quite a few exorcisms performed.
Then Jesus makes a peculiar statement,
And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning…”
There has been a large amount of discussion about what Jesus actually meant. He could be saying, “Yes, I saw that” meaning that as the missionaries cast out demons on earth, He was seeing an even greater spectacle at the same time. Or, He could be saying that because of His own authority over Satan, He has the power to give that authority to His disciples. And actually, because of the verses that follow, it is probably both of those. But, some scholars have offered other options.
The next verse makes it clear that Jesus has authority over Satan and his minions. The fact is that Jesus has authority over all things (John 3:31), and He has the right to give authority to whom He pleases.
In this text, Jesus gave authority to His disciples to “tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure [them] (v.19). Then He adds this little reminder:
…do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in Heaven.
Jesus’ reminder to His disciples is that their joy is misplaced. They were rejoicing at their borrowed power over evil spirits and Jesus says what you should be rejoicing about is your salvation. That reminder is ours as well. Too many people become enamored with secondary issues. They find their joy in numbers of followers, the breadth of ministry, or size of congregations.
Jesus is calling us to a deeper joy, a more fulfilling joy, one NOT based on whims of individuals or external circumstances. The joy that Jesus offers is based in the unchanging reality of salvation, the eternal decree of God that the names of believers is forever written in Heaven.
Rather than be enthralled with extraordinary manifestations such as power over demons and the ability to work miracles, the disciples should have realized the greatest wonder of all is Salvation – the whole point of the gospel message and the central issue to which all the miracles point.
Read ’em & Reap!