Luke 10:13-24 (ESV)
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.” 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 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.”
The seventy-two returned from the mission Jesus sent them on, and they were thrilled. They let Jesus know that the demons were subject to them! The seventy-two were conduits of the authority Jesus exercised as they operated in his name. They made sure to acknowledge that their ability was a result of their relationship to Jesus. They had no innate power in themselves, but because they were sent out as representatives of Christ, the demons reacted to them the way they responded to Jesus. What an honor and a privilege for these seventy-two disciples! They were literally full of joy. Then Jesus explained to the disciples that the cause of their authority over the demons was Satan’s defeat. If the demons were subject to the seventy-two, then Satan’s time was limited. When Jesus said he watched Satan fall, he was referring back to when God cast Satan from heaven. Jesus added even more. He told the seventy-two that they had authority over the forces hostile to God, and because they were followers of Christ, they could and would overcome the enemy. Wow! The seventy-two must have been incredibly encouraged. Yet, Jesus taught them not to rejoice in that truth. What? Don’t rejoice in this? Why not? From the disciples’ perspective, this kind of authority and protection was certainly a cause for joy.
Jesus taught not to rejoice “that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (v. 20). The latter happiness surpassed their authority over evil and darkness. Their lasting joy came from their right standing with God. Their names were written in heaven. And no power of hell could erase those names from God’s books! Double wow! Talk about real confidence! For those who are truly followers of Jesus, our position is secure before God. How amazing is that? The disciples rejoiced in their successes, but Jesus said their joy should come from their eternal relationship with him. Like the disciples, we can become so preoccupied with our spiritual successes that we forget the root of our joy is in our reconciliation and peace with God. No matter how difficult, tough, or even overwhelming life’s circumstances are for you today, if you are a Christian, you have the greatest reason in the universe to rejoice.