Saturday, July 1, 2017

S.T.A.N.D. on Following Jesus' Ministry--XII

This passage in Luke is very instructive on what our mission is in Christ.  The context here is Jesus sending out seventy disciples to proclaim Him in the towns He is about to visit.  He tells them of the perils they will face as “lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3), how to approach a town and where to stay.  They are to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is coming near, whether or not they are accepted by the townspeople. 

They go out and soon return, victorious and joyful.  Let’s look at Luke 10:16-24 (NIV):
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
17 The seventy 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.”
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 
24  For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Fast forward to today:  Nothing has really changed.  We draw near to people with the message that Jesus is Savior and Lord.  We may be accepted or rejected.  The message remains truth regardless of its reception.  We are to keep going forward by sharing our faith. 

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

If we talk, let it be not only about Jesus but with the power of Jesus’ own words.  Our message is His message; we are empowered with His Spirit (because we are born again, His Spirit is within us) thus, our words should be His. If the words are accepted, then The Word is accepted—Jesus Himself:   
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2 NIV)

If the words are His and are rejected, then so is The Word.  If someone rejects Jesus, it pierces deeply into the heart of the One Who sent Him:  His Father.  So, claiming to love God without loving Jesus is not possible in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus was sent; therefore, we are sent.  We serve Him by going out on His behalf.  We serve His Father by going out on Jesus’ behalf. 

The seventy returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

The disciples return and they are elated.  The hallmark of their success, according to them is, “even the demons submit to us in Your name.” If we are His disciples, we have watched, learned and absorbed all that He is and does.  He commanded the demons to leave; so shall we, in His name.  Not in our power or ability but in His name.  Pure and simple: the name of Jesus is mighty.  Almighty. 
“Even the demons”—Before they left, that was probably the most worrisome aspect of their commission.  Sickness is hard to face because of the suffering of the person and the family involved.  But casting out a demon meant facing the afflicted person and a powerful malevolent force that could just as easily have turned on you. The moment any demon left a person, because Jesus’ name had been proclaimed, meant that the Kingdom of God had arrived in power and could not be stopped. 

Another time, Jesus told His disciples that Peter’s declaration that He was the Messiah, the Son of the living God, meant that hell was no longer all powerful:

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:15-20)

Who Jesus is determines how we see Satan and his involvement in the world and how we go forward in it. 

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."  

The earth is where Satan set up his kingdom after Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  He jets between the unseen spiritual world and our world.  He manifests his ugly presence here by oppressing people and causing chaos.  He incites all kinds of evil and humans are easily recruited to meet his agenda. So, when this new army, “The 70,” comes back, the battle for the planet has begun.  It continues today with us as the army of God.  Satan “fell”—not too dissimilar when we say that D-Day started the fall of Nazi Germany.  A lot had to be done once the Allied troops hit the beaches of France, but the Allied victory was coming. Satan’s fall began when the disciples hit the towns with Jesus’ names on their lips.  A lot had to be done then and a lot still needs to be done today, but our victory is assured. 
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. We have authority IN HIS NAME.  How do we know that?  Well, we get to “trample on snakes.”  Back to Adam and Eve:  Satan used a snake to seduce our first parents into his way of thinking.  That snake and all those who still try to seduce others into evil will be trampled by those who wield the Name that is above all names.   God proclaimed, after the Fall,  

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel. (Gen. 3:15 NIV)

The Seed, the Word made flesh, is now commissioning us to go out and do in His name what He did to Satan on the cross.  The cross was staked into Satan’s head, crushing him. We walk in the assurance that while he is very angry, Satan is a defeated foe.  Jesus’ power in us seals the deal.
We stand with the new Moses.  Jesus’ death on the cross allows us to go confidently into the Promised Land.  Another name for that Land?  The Kingdom of God.  So, God’s words to the children of Israel take on a prophetic and powerful meaning for us:

He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.  (Deut. 8:15-16 NIV)

Jesus’ commission to us is similar to what He experienced.  He received His commission after His baptism by John.  His Father’s voice spoke lovingly to Him.  Then He was led by the Spirit into the desert.  Maybe you look at your life and wonder why you have gone through the trials you have. Perhaps if you see them as building your character, to make you strong and ready for service, then your life experiences have value.  They are being used for His purpose:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

So, we are stronger soldiers because of what we have gone through:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5 NIV)


Perhaps you are still in the desert, or you are coming out of it.  Just like the children of Israel and their forty year wanderings in the desert, God always provided for them.  They were tested, yes, but never left to fend for themselves.  The same is true for us, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey. Our wilderness humbles us, so we are ready to take the Land when it is time to do so.  We know we can’t do this on our own.  Our desert is to keep our focus on God and His provision. The Land is ours because of Christ. Jesus is our Water of Life.  Jesus is our Bread of Life.  We are provisioned and empowered to do what He calls us to do, whether we are in the desert or occupying the Promised Land.    

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Jesus’ admonition is to humble them and humble us.  The power you have is not for you to wield for personal gain or to feed your pride, but to use solely for the Kingdom.  Yes, you are a mighty soldier, but Jesus wants you to stay humble in the field. Our names are written in the Book of Life in His blood, not in our works. Thus, our celebration is not what we do but Whom we serve.  Jesus gave The 70 a perspective check by reminding them of Heaven—their Headquarters.  We would do well to note that. 

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.

We are His little children at the end of the day.  We may be tired, happy, dirt splattered and weary, but we crawl into His lap and look up into His smiling eyes and say, Abba:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  (Rom. 8:14-17 NIV)

The greatest thing we gain from serving Jesus is getting to know His Father better each time we place our trust in Him.  The Kingdom of God has a King: that King is our Abba.

"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.”

The disciples were blessed to see the Kingdom with its boots on the ground.  We are blessed as well.  It is knowing Jesus, serving in His mighty power, and knowing how Satan is on his way out that we are able to maintain our perspective:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:7-9 NIV)

Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

The Day finally arrived that the prophets and kings had longed for, for the One Who was promised came to do the work of the Father.  He came to save mankind by His sacrifice.  We, too, are able to see the realization of the salvation plan of God. If the Day of salvation finally arrived, with the Old Testament being fulfilled, the Final Day will arrive as well, with Jesus coming in the clouds and the trumpets blasting.  God keeps His promises.  Until then, go out in the power of HIS NAME and tell others, “The Kingdom of God is here, because Jesus is here and greatly desires to live in your heart.”
So, the focus in spiritual warfare should be on Jesus and His mighty name, not worrying about Satan and his power. 

Next Time:  We will examine each case in the Gospels where Satan and Jesus collided and how Jesus handled it.  We should handle our collisions with evil no differently for we are following in our Master’s footsteps. 

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