So, I’m struggling with Luke 10:17-20. My assignment is to preach on this passage in an elementary school chapel service. I believe kids have the imagination for the fantastic, but this is still difficult.
Luke 10: 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ 18He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
But I have gleaned some insight in reading this passage through and through. The disciples have just returned from a mission that Jesus sent them on, and they were a success! “In your name even the demons submit to us!” I can see the high-fives and big fish stories coming out of the disciples as they surround Jesus.
“So, as we entered the first town, we said the same words that Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is near, and is even now!” We had a huge crowd of people. They even invited us in, kept us, and fed us. We then shared food among each other and the poor.”
“Yeah, right when we walked into our third village, there was a beggar who was crippled. In the Lord’s name we healed him. And then the whole town turned out to listen.”
“Pffft. You think that’s amazing? On the second day in a village, a demon possessed man threw himself before us, convulsing and cursing. In the name of the Lord we cast the demon out! AND IT LISTENED TO US? Can you believe it?”
At this point Jesus would silence them all and smile approvingly. It’s a phenomenal feeling when we realize the power of Christ in our lives. But, Jesus speaks the next word, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” The room falls absolutely silent.
“I have given you the power to walk on scorpions and snakes and not be harmed. But don’t rejoice at this. Rejoice at the fact that you, even you, are written in heaven, as a citizen of God’s kingdom.”
Jesus ends the pride of the disciples and calls them back to the the goal of the mission: to bring the Kingdom of God near. When the Kingdom of God comes near, the kingdom of this world, the powers, principalities, and satan can’t stand. There’s no competition. But we do not rejoice in the submission of powers to US! If we do, we become like Satan, grasping for power over all things. Instead, we rejoice in the humility that it’s God’s power, and we are subject to it.
It’s a bit like the atomic bomb. There’s a great line from Spiderman 2 “The power of the sun in the palm of my hand.” But that power drove Octavius crazy. When we discovered atomic energy, we found the power to make atoms submit to our manipulation. But, instead of marveling at the wonder of God’s power in the universe, we took this power and made nations submit to us. But now, we stand in fear of our own power, our ability to destroy. Others have this power as well, and we can mutually destroy each other.
What a wonderful world where we don’t have to celebrate the power in our hands, but when we can celebrate the power of life in the true hands of God. Those hands pierced by nails.