Turn in your Bible to Luke 10:17-24. At the beginning of Luke 10, we saw the seventy disciples sent out by Jesus on a missions trip. They were to go two by two to every city and town to which Jesus Himself would come. After some time, they returned rejoicing.
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. 22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Luke 10:17–24)
The seventy had cause to be happy. They had seen Satan’s minions cast out of people. They had victory in Jesus’s name. After hearing the joyful reports, Jesus gave them more causes to celebrate, causes that we, as Christians, have to celebrate even today.
First, a cause for Christian Celebration is because…
1) YOUR NAME IS WRITTEN IN HEAVEN (10:17-20)
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Upon their return, the seventy disciples seemed most amazed about one thing: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” They realized that they had the same power and authority that Jesus had (verse 19). Now, this is great thing, and even Jesus seems happy about it:
Luke 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
There’s some debate over what exactly Jesus means by this. Was He referring to Satan’s fall from Heaven in the distant past (Isaiah 14:12)? While that is a possibility, and certainly Jesus saw the original fall of Satan, it doesn’t seem to fit the context. In fact, it seems kind of snarky and rude of Jesus. The disciples return joyful that they cast out demons and Jesus says, “Oh yeah, well, I saw the fall of Satan from Heaven long ago!”
When I studied this verse, I noticed that, in the Greek, the word for “beheld” (theōreō) is in a special kind of past tense called the imperfect tense. It’s kind of like a present tense for the past. If it were present tense you could translate it “I am beholding” or “I am seeing.” With the imperfect tense, it’s the same idea, but it’s in the past: “I was beholding” or “I was seeing.”
How does that help us understand what Jesus was saying in verse 18? It seems to imply that, while the seventy was out on their missions trips, Jesus was beholding Satan fall, symbolically, from Heaven. He was watching Satan being defeated, one saved soul at a time as the seventy performed their mission.
Why was Satan’s fall “like lightning”? Jesus was making a comparison with lightning, so we have to think what lightning is like: it’s bright, it’s fast, it’s sudden, it’s over quickly, and it’s dramatic. When the seventy went out to perform ministry, they increased Jesus’s ministry by a factor of seventy. Suddenly, there were demons being cast out of people all over the place.
In a flash, Satan’s time of possessing people was nearing an end. In fact, after this chapter, Luke only records one more instance of a demon being cast out in the rest of the book (Luke 11:14). Satan’s massive invasion of demons during Jesus’s time on earth was over.
If you are sad that you are not a part of this great demon-casting-out-of-people-and-making-Satan-fall-like-lightning ministry, do not fret, because it’s not the best thing we can rejoice in. Jesus rejoices with the seventy because of this, but He also says,
Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
The disciples were not wrong in rejoicing in their power over demons. But there was something much more important to rejoice about. What would that be? That their names were “written in heaven.”
This is a reference to the “book of life,” a term that appears several times in the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation (e.g., Revelation 13:8). In the ancient world, kings and governments kept records of their citizens. Remember why Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem? Because of a census that was being taken (Luke 2:1). To have your name written in the book meant that you were a citizen of that particular nation.
To have your name written in the book of life means that you are a citizen of Heaven. It means to be assured of your salvation. God does not pencil your name in, He uses an indelible ink that lasts for eternity.
This is a cause for Christian celebration because, if you have truly been saved, you have a place in Heaven. Your name is written down in the book. Your victory over Satan is complete, because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Sometime late in 1980, Iain Murray visited the aging Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The famous London preacher was drawing near to death and could only sit up for an hour or two each day. Murray asked an obvious question: “How are you coping now that your ministry is so confined?” After all, Lloyd-Jones had preached to countless thousands, bringing many to faith in Christ…Lloyd-Jones replied, “Do not rejoice that the demons are subject to you in my name, but rejoice that your name is written in heaven.” Then he said, “I am perfectly content.” (Philip Graham Ryken, Luke, vol. 1, Reformed Expository Commentary [Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009], 529–530)
How about you? Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? Is your name written in the book of life? Do you rejoice daily over that? Are you perfectly content? Or you are too distracted by the world to care about being a citizen of Heaven?
If you are distracted by the world, here’s one bit of advice: Turn off the news—there’s nothing you can do about it anyway—and take some time each day to pray and ponder the place you have in Heaven. Remember that you, as a Christian, have a cause for celebration because your name is written in Heaven.
Second, another cause for Christian Celebration is because…
2) GOD HAS REVEALED TRUTH TO YOU (10:21-22)
Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Here Jesus breaks out in a prayer of praise. Notice how Jesus refers the “Father” twice, emphasizing Jesus’s intimacy with Him. Jesus also calls Him the “Lord of heaven and earth,” emphasizing God’s sovereign power over all things, able to do whatever seems “good” in His “sight.”
These are important things for us to remember because what does Jesus say the Father has done in this verse? He has “hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” This is the sort of statement that makes our “that’s not fair” alarms go off. How dare God hide something from someone and reveal it to someone else! Let’s take a look at what Jesus is saying here.
First, what are “these things” that are being hid from some and revealed to others? It’s not precisely clear. Is He talking about the casting out of demons that the seventy disciples had been doing? Or is He referring to having their names written in Heaven? Or is He referring to the larger picture of the gospel and the kingdom of God? Or is Jesus referring to the truth about who He was—the incarnate deity, the Messiah, and so forth?
Perhaps it’s best to understand “these things” in the largest sense—it’s referring to salvation and Jesus and His part in bringing us salvation.
In what sense did God hide this from people? It’s not as devious as it might seem at first. God devised a way of salvation that the sinner would not want a part of because of their pride. The one who is humble—like a child—would be able to respond to the way of salvation. Later in the New Testament, the apostle Paul expands on this thought—
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24)
Because God chose to make the way of salvation something that would seem foolish to some men and a stumbling block to other men, it was hid from them because of their pride.
But we’re all sinners, and prideful, so how can we ever see the truth?
Luke 10:22 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
The Lord has to work in a person’s heart to reveal Himself before they can be saved. In Acts 16, we see that the Lord worked in Lydia’s heart so that she could respond to the gospel:
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. (Acts 16:14)
If you are a Christian today, it’s not because you worked to figure out salvation. You might have heard about salvation hundreds of times. But then one day, it all clicked together. The Lord opened your heart, and you willingly decided to follow Jesus.
That time that the Lord turned on the spiritual light bulb in your heart should be a cause for celebration for you as a Christian. Rejoice that God has revealed truth to you.
Third, a cause for Christian Celebration is because…
3) YOU LIVE ON THIS SIDE OF THE CROSS (10:23-24)
Luke 10:23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
Luke 10:24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
What had the disciples seen? What did “many prophets and kings” desire to see? Nothing more and nothing less than the coming of the Messiah, prophesied as early as Genesis chapter 3. Throughout the Old Testament, there were shadows and glimpses of a coming Savior. Peter tells us that the prophets looked diligently for clues to who the Christ would be and what He would be like:
10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:10–11)
Jesus even told the Jews, that in some way,
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)
And Isaiah saw the sufferings of the Savior:
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5–6)
But for all the glimpses they saw, for all the desire that they had, for all the digging that they did, none of them received the promise of the Messiah in total:
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39–40)
Do you take for granted what they desired so long to see? Christians should rejoice that we do not have to long for God’s Savior to be sent. We have received the promise of a Messiah! Be joyful that you live on this side of the cross!
Do you regularly rejoice that you are a Christian? If not, why?
1) It could be that you are not a Christian. Sure, you may have prayed a prayer, and you attend church, but really, the faith just isn’t there.
Once again, go back to the gospel. You are a sinner separated from God. Your sin will condemn you to an eternity in Hell. But Jesus has died for you. His death can give you victory over sin, if you repent and place your faith in Him. Is your heart stirred to respond to the gospel today? That is the work of the Holy Spirit in you…don’t ignore Him, respond to His promptings and you will be saved!
2) If you are a Christian, perhaps your lack of rejoicing is because you are distracted by the world and Satan. I’ve already mentioned how the news can cause distress and worry in us. But there are many other things that cause us to be joyless Christians.
Legalism is something that sucks the joy out of Christians. You are concerned about performing all the right things. You get upset when other Christians aren’t doing what you think they should be doing. You become judgmental. Judging and joy do not mix.
Bitterness over something that has happened in your life is another joy-sapper. Is there something that you complain to others about every chance you get? With God’s help, set it aside. But do more than set it aside, focus your heart and mind on the causes you have for celebration as a Christian:
1) Your Name Is Written In Heaven
2) God Has Revealed Truth To You
3) You Live On This Side Of The Cross