At the beginning of chapter 10 Jesus appointed 72 to go before him preaching that the kingdom of God has come near. Every town and place where Jesus was about to go these 72 went ahead of him proclaiming the coming of the kingdom. Now the 72 return and give a report to Jesus.
Power of Christ’s Kingdom
When the 72 return, they return with joy saying that even the demons were subject to them in the name of Jesus Christ. This would be an exciting and joyous time. Jesus has given these disciples authority to proclaim the kingdom message. Even demons were cast out by Christ’s authority. They are joyful not just because of they can cast out demons, but because of what it means.
“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. And on that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit.” (Zechariah 13:1–2)
Zechariah had promised that there would be a time when a fountain of salvation was opened to cleanse people from their sins and impurity. At the same time the unclean spirits would be removed from the land. Since the 72 were able to remove the unclean spirits, the conclusion is that a fountain was opened to cleanse the people of their sins. How exciting to see that cleansing of sins had come because the demons were being cast out. The casting out of demons was a visible sign to all that the kingdom of God had come near and forgiveness of sins was available.
Jesus responds to the disciples’ joy by saying that he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. This is not a point of information. Jesus is not saying that a long time ago at the beginning of time he saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. This is not talking about a time before the creation of the earth when Satan fell to the earth. “Falling from heaven” is a metaphor in the scriptures to describe a ruler experiencing a loss of power and rule.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! (Isaiah 14:12 ESV)
Many, unfortunately, apply this scripture to Satan. But Isaiah is prophesying against the king of Babylon. Notice the context of the passage.
When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: (Isaiah 14:3–4 ESV)
The prophecy was simple. The king of Babylon was going to lose his rule and authority. The imagery used to describe that loss is falling from heaven. Jesus is saying that he saw Satan’s power over people decisively broken. The kingdom of Christ has come and the demons being cast out was proof that Satan’s power was broken by the power of Christ. Our world has been fascinated about demon possession for many years. However, the scriptures are clear that Satan’s power was broken in the days of Jesus. Demon possession cannot occur against one’s will today like we read about in the days of Jesus’ life. That power of Satan has been broken. Jesus uses the imagery of Satan falling like lightning from heaven to teach this to his disciples.
Further, this great power has been delegated to the 72. Notice in verse 19 that Jesus tells them that he gave them authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall hurt you. This is also a metaphor used in the scriptures to describe God’s protection. In Deuteronomy 8:15 similar language is used to describe God’s protection as he led the people of Israel through the wilderness. The point Jesus is making is that when it comes to Satan, these disciples have all authority to overcome.
Then Jesus says something very interesting in verse 20. There is even greater rejoicing to be had. Don’t rejoice that the unclean spirits are subject to you. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Rejoice in what God has done for you. Eternal life is to be our deepest joy in Christ. This knowledge is the lasting joy given to us that gets us through this life. Worldly joys are temporal. Physical things bring a shallow, momentary happiness. Knowing that you have eternal life brings true joy. Knowing that your names are written in heaven is the greatest hope and greatest joy we can experience. If you want to truly have peace, peace is found by knowing that it does not matter what happens to you in this world. You know that you are with God and have eternal life.
In the same hour Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is finding satisfaction and joy in God’s will being fulfilled. We can see this is what it means for Jesus to rejoice in the Spirit because of the words he prays in verse 21. Notice how the verse ends, “For such was your gracious will.” God’s will is being done before the very eyes of these disciples. We must consider what we find the most personal satisfaction in. In what do you find your greatest joy? Jesus rejoiced at seeing God’s will being done. Our satisfaction must be found in the will of God being accomplished. There is great satisfaction in participating in reaching out to the world with the gospel. There is great satisfaction when a lost soul is saved. Lasting satisfaction isn’t found in sports, possessions, wealth, or anything else in this life.
Notice that Jesus’ rejoicing is expressed in thanksgiving to the Father. Our joy must be expressed by giving God our thanks for being part of God’s plan and purposes. How often we forget to express our joy to God. We forget to be thankful to God when our prayers are answered. We petition God so fervently yet lose our fervor when our prayers are answered. Many of the psalms are beautiful poems of praising God for what he has done. We must never lose our heart of thankfulness.
Part of Jesus’ thanks is that these great truths and joy about the kingdom have been hidden from the wise and understanding but have revealed them to little children. Again, Jesus is using a metaphor to thank God that what God is doing in his purpose can be understood by the simple. The wise seem to miss the great truths of God. The religious establishment seem to miss the great truths of God. You do not need special knowledge to understand the scriptures. You do not need someone to explain to you God’s purpose. God has revealed himself in such a way that all people can understand. There is so often a power play made today in every arena of life. Politicians want you to think they know more than you. Employers want you to think they know more than you. Religious leaders and teachers what you to think that they know more than you. God says that you can know for yourself. It was God’s gracious will to reveal himself to all people, not just the rich or the wise or the powerful. All people have access to this great kingdom of Christ.
Jesus further points out how you can receive this knowledge. Jesus said that all things had been given to him by the Father. He describes the intimate relationship that the Father and Son have. Only the Father knows the Son. Only the Son knows the Father. But then Jesus says, “And anyone to whom the Son choose to reveal him.” The Son knows the Father and you cannot know God without listening to the Son. The Son reveals the Father. You must know Jesus to know God. Everyone today wants to bypass Christ and think that they are spiritual and have a relationship with God. Jesus tells us that this is improper thinking. It is not possible to have a relationship with God without Jesus. You must obey Jesus and listen to Jesus’ words to know God.
Joy To See The Kingdom’s Arrival
Finally, Jesus concludes by speaking privately to his disciples. “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:23–24 ESV)
Those disciples were living in a special time. The people of the Old Testament were looking forward to the day when the Messiah would arrive and bring his kingdom. They desired to see what these disciples were seeing. They wanted to hear what they were hearing. Think about the privileged position we are in. We also have been able to hear the great words of Jesus, words that those who lived long ago earnestly desired to hear. We must appreciate how we can hold in our hands the revealed word of God that shows us how to come to the Father. We have the word of God that tells us we have access to his kingdom and can belong to the family of God. Everyone who lived during the days of Christ and after Christ’s resurrection have the blessing of seeing unfolding of God’s wisdom.
The world seeks joy in all the wrong places. From partying to seclusion people have tried to find lasting joy in this world only to fail. Lasting joy can only be found in Christ. Notice what the scriptures have taught us about finding joy. First, take joy knowing that your name is written in heaven. Second, there is joy in seeing God’s purpose being fulfilled and being an instrument in that process. Third, there is joy in knowledge of God’s will and understanding the salvation that has been made available for all people.