And the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject unto us in thy name.”
And he said unto them, “I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall in any wise hurt you. Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).
When people learn a new trick or obtain a new “toy,” the delight is readily apparent. The joy and excitement of children at Christmastime is well-known, and how many times do we see children proudly testing out new skills and knowledge as they grow and mature? This is not a trend seen only in children– grown men act very much the same way when they obtain new pieces of technology or tools!
We can only imagine, therefore, the great wonder and excitement the seventy must have felt when they discovered that they had power over demons and evil forces through the name of Jesus Christ! They were able to go to towns before Jesus would arrive there, proclaim the message of the Kingdom, cast out demons, and do marvelous works. It must have been quite exhilarating to see the evil one powerless before them. They were able to do things that very few were able to do!
Yet, in the midst of all of their excitement, Jesus reminds them that the ability to cast out demons should not be the source of their joy. Instead, they should rejoice that their names are written in Heaven.
It was great to have the ability to cast out demons and to have control over evil forces. Yet, if the seventy did all those things and yet lost their souls, where would be their benefit (cf. Matthew 16:25-26)? If they became so excited about and so focused on the ability to cast out demons, and did not do the will of their Father in Heaven, what would their fate be (Matthew 7:21-23)?
Jesus’ reminder was good for them, and it is good for us also. While we may not cast out demons, through the power of God we are able to resist the evil one (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are invited to participate in God’s eternal plan, and we may get the opportunity to be part of God accomplishing great works in our lives and the lives of those around us (Ephesians 1:3-14, 3:11). We easily may get caught up in all the great demonstrations of the power of God!
Yet, in the end, our source of joy should not be in what we are able to accomplish for God, or what we see God accomplishing through us and with us. Instead, the source of our joy is to be that our names are written in Heaven, if indeed our names are written there. We have been delivered from sin and darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 3:3-8). If we lose that, we have lost the only important thing!
No matter how majestically God’s power is demonstrated in our lives, let us remember what is of the greatest and most fundamental value: our salvation. Let us constantly seek to do the will of the Father, and not be distracted in any way!
Ethan R. Longhenry