Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Luke 10:17-22 – 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father.No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Wow…well at least I got a simple, straight-forward passage! Let me start off by saying that this really challenges me to understand the exact meaning and also how to apply it. Here goes…
This is set in the sending of the 72 (disciples + other followers) and they return with joy and then have a conversation with Jesus. They speak of their authority in action and how demons submit to them. We, likewise, have authority as followers of Jesus in this battle. I think I minimize the spiritual battle as well as my authority in the battle, but is this the most important thing?? Jesus responds with some unusual words---in effect, He has commissioned them and they are pushing back the forces of evil (Satan, snakes, and scorpions), which He validates. Then, comes what I think is the core of the passage. My paraphrase---‘Exercising your spiritual authority is good, but focus more on why you have this authority.’
For example…many parents spend lots of time posting cute pictures and sharing cute stories of their cute kids on cute Facebook (sorry I was on a roll). Facebook is a great tool and it’s great to share some of these things, but my guess is that parents can spend so much time on social media like Facebook that they can actually neglect quality time with their kids. So, they miss the most important things of parenting, for the smaller delights of sharing cute things about parenting.
Jesus was refocusing the eyes of the 72 on the prize, not the effect of the prize. The results of receiving authority by being in relationship with Jesus is a really good thing, but it falls extremely short of the fact that we have been reconciled to God and get to spend eternity in close proximity with Him!! We rejoice in the fact that our names are written in Heaven and not just the results of that relationship.
Finally, notice that in the preceding 16 verses in Luke 10 that Luke does not record Jesus saying anything about spiritual warfare or driving out demons. It’s possible the 72 were majoring in the minors. Maybe they should have returned saying that more people have come to faith in you and have had their names written in Heaven!! It doesn’t mean that authority is not significant and that we shouldn’t exercise the authority we have as followers of Jesus---we should! It just means that authority has its appropriate place in the life of a believer---major in the majors, don’t major in the minors!
What role does spiritual authority and fighting a spiritual battle have in your life? Do you ever make minor things into major things in your faith? How can we refocus on the major things without neglecting the minor things? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.