Faithlife Sermons

Luke 10.17-24

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
Last week we looked at quite a heavy text. Jesus sends out seventy-two of his disciples into different towns, and they share the gospel. He tells them what to do when people accept the gospel they are bringing, and what to do when they reject it. We felt the glory of the kingdom of God coming near to us, and we felt the weight of the judgment that comes if we reject that kingdom.
A good number of people left last week ill at ease, because when Jesus talks this way he sounds a little too much like the Old Testament God of wrath for comfort.
The question on our minds, after such a text, is, “Why is this good news?” We say the gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God; but if it’s accompanied with such judgment, how can it be good news?
That’s where Jesus is going to take us today. He’s going to talk to the seventy-two disciples he’s sent out about why the gospel is such good news. And what’s amazing here is how he’s going to frame it. He’s not going to present the gospel as good news for the people they’ve just shared it with; he’s going to present the gospel to the seventy-two, as good news for them (and by extension, for everyone who has accepted their message).

Joy in Salvation (v. 17-20)

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
So the seventy-two return, and they’re pretty excited about all that they were able to do on the road. Essentially, the power of Jesus worked through them. They healed people; they cast out demons in his name. That’s great, and Jesus doesn’t deny it: “Yes, this is cool. This is the beginning of the end for Satan, and you get to be a part of it.”
But he’s not going to leave it there; he’s going to say there’s something even better.
“Yes, this is cool. This is the beginning of the end for Satan, and you’re a part of it.
“But that is the smallest thing you should be happy about. Left unchecked, all you have in your hands is hubris.
Jesus Rejoices in the Father’s Will
“The fact that demons are subject to you is not the reason you should be happy. You have a much greater reason for joy.”
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
This is an image given multiple times in the Bible. The picture is of a book, a register, in heaven, in which God has written all the names of all of his children. What does it mean? It means that if you have faith in Christ:
God knows your name—he knows you personally, not just as “a Christian”.
Whatever gets written in his book stays written in the book (cf. Rev. 3.5). If your name is there, it will always be there, regardless of how imperfect you are.
Your salvation is not just won by Christ, but assured by Christ. Nothing you do can take back what he has given you.
Why would this be such a big deal? Because it shouldn’t be the case.
Because of our sin, we absolutely deserved to be cast away from God. We always talk about the justice of God, and how wonderful it is that God is just. That’s true, but thank goodness he didn’t exercise justice the way we would! Because if he simply gave us what was just, we would all be condemned!
Some here last week were upset that I talked about the way the gravity of our sin increases depending on the value of the one sinned against. To help explain that I gave an illustration of someone swatting a mosquito off their arm, and how that wouldn’t offend most people; but if it was a baby you were slapping, it would be a much bigger deal. So because God is the most infinitely worthy being in all of creation, rejecting his gospel is an infinitely horrible sin.
And some people took that to mean that rejecting the gospel is somehow worse than slapping a baby…which isn’t the point I was trying to make.
I said what I said last week because I knew we were coming here this week. My point was not to diminish the horror of abusing children, but to increase it. Saying that the gravity of our sin increases depending on the value of the one sinned against doesn’t make horrible sins less horrible, but more. All sin, David says in , isn’t just sin against ourselves or against others but ultimately against God himself…which make our sin all the more horrible.
As horrendous as abusing children is, when people abuse children they are not just sinning against those poor little ones; they are sinning against God himself, who created those children in his image and who loves them. So the sin of child abuse is even worse than you imagine.
So is lying.
So is coveting.
So are things we all do on a daily basis, from the “smallest” sins to the “greatest” sins.
This is the case for all sin, from the “smallest” to the “greatest.”
All sin is deserving of ultimate, eternal punishment, because it is sin against an infinitely worthy God.
Why am I going back over this again? Because it is not right that we should be saved. It is not normal that our names should be written in his book. It is not fair that God would send his Son to die for us, in order to reconcile us to himself.
But he did.
So as much power as you may wield, even over demons, that is the smallest thing you should be thankful for. This is why I have a problem with charismatic churches who put spiritual gifts on a pedestal as the most important part of the Christian life. I believe in spiritual gifts. I believe God still uses them for his glory today. But I don’t believe that they should be the center of our lives, or of our church, or of our preaching, or of our prayer, because Jesus says not to rejoice that the demons are subject to us, but because our names are written in heaven.
That fact—the fact that despite all the weight of sin which condemned us, God saved us and gave us faith anyway through the life, death and resurrection of his Son—is the central reason for joy in the Christian life. It is the central motivation of the Christian’s heart. And it turns our eyes not to ourselves and what we can do, but always and only to God, because if he would save someone like me, what kind of God must he be in everything else he does?
If you belong to him, you probably barely even realize just how great his love is toward you. Just how massive the gift of salvation is for you. Whatever good things he has given you, they are not the main reason for you to rejoice.
Christians are commanded to be happy. And they will be happy, for this specific reason: that their names are written in heaven.
Now I love what happens next. Jesus gives us a reason for us to rejoice. But then he does something incredible: he turns from our joy to his own.

Christ’s Joy in Revelation (v. 21)

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
This is one of the most glorious and incomprehensible truths of the Bible.
If you think about the way things usually work, and you think like I do, your mind will automatically go to action movies. The ones who always figure out the important things—either the enemy’s master plan, or the only way to stop the enemy—are always the most brilliant ones. The Tony Starks of the world. You never see ordinary people let in on this kind of monumental plan, because they’re ordinary, and you have to be brilliant to understand it.
That’s what happens in movies because that’s what happens in the world.
But that’s not what happens here. God never goes about things the way we would expect. He chose to hide his plan from the wise and understanding—for example, the religious leaders of his time who should have seen it coming—and reveal them to “little children.” To the ordinary. To the uneducated. To those who had no reason to be involved in such a story.
Jesus says this was God’s “gracious will.”
This should be good news to those of us who are idiots. Because clearly God is not interested in mere efficiency (at least the way we view efficiency). At least to my way of thinking, God could have gotten things done much faster and much more effectively if he had revealed these things to the Einsteins of the world, to the “wise and understanding,” as Jesus puts it. But he’s not interested in mere efficiency—he’s interested in grace.
This was not God lowering himself because he had no other options.
God would rather reveal his plan to simple, uneducated men and women who know they can’t do it, than to brilliant men and women who will soon be tempted to think they had anything to do with the plan’s success. And on those occasions when he does choose to use someone who is educated and brilliant (like the apostle Paul), he breaks his illusion of self-sufficiency first, showing him just how little he can do on his own, so that he might say, “I worked harder than anyone…yet it wasn’t me, but the grace of God that is with me” (cf. ).
I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
The first thing you realize when you begin to come into contact with the gospel is just how incomplete and ridiculous your efforts to succeed ever are. Even if everyone around you sees what you do as a rousing success, when compared with the eternal scope of God’s plan, your success is like that of a toddler who’s just learned to put on his shoes. (“Good job, kid, but it’s not that big a deal: I’ve been able to do that for thirty-five years.”)
When we come into contact with the gospel, and we realize that our best efforts to succeed are actually pretty pitiful, we learn the wonderful, glorious news that that’s okay! That’s exactly the way it was meant to be—God chose to reveal his will to “little children,” rather than the wise and understanding.
Can you see it? Jesus loves this! How often do you see Jesus audibly thank God for something? How often do we see him visibly rejoice at something happening? He is the Son of God; the Creator of all things. He’s seen a lot, because he made everything—how hard must it be to impress him? When the sovereign Lord and Creator of all gets excited about something, that’s a pretty good indication that it’s a very, very good thing.
So Jesus gives us a reason for joy—that our names are written in heaven—and then gives a reason for his own joy—that God has chosen to reveal these things to little children rather than the wise and understanding. And now he’s going to take his joy, turn it around, and apply it to us—he’s going to help us make his joy our own.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
But to do this he’s going to have to go back a step—back before our efforts, back before we every tried to know him or serve him. He’s going to lay down the simple foundation that unless he himself acts, none of us can make any efforts at all.

His Joy and Ours (v. 22-24)

This was God going to those to whom no one else would go, but who deserve his grace every bit as much as those who feel they deserve it.
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Let’s take that bit by bit.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father...
So the Father God has ultimate authority and ownership over everything that exists, and he has given this authority and ownership over to Jesus.
...and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son...
This simply means that no one knows God but God. Because we are created in his image, our souls are drawn to God; they desire to know him. But because we are born in sin, we can’t know him. The only man who can know God is the man who is God—the only man who is without sin. God the Son, the man Jesus, knows God the Father, and he is the only man who can know the Father by himself.
That sounds like bad news: because we are sinful beings, it is impossible for us to know God. That’s the way things work naturally. But Jesus adds to what he says. He says,
...no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
So if Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to you by his Holy Spirit, on the basis of his life, death and resurrection, then you can know him, because your sin has been removed from you. Jesus took it on himself and bore the punishment for that sin.
Let’s look at this in the context of what he has said so far.
Certain people reject Christ, and certain people accept Christ (we saw that last week).
If we accept Christ, then God fulfills all his promises to his people for us.
If we reject Christ, the means of God’s salvation, then God rejects us.
If we accept Christ, our names are written in heaven. We will always belong to him. We will always love him. The moment when we placed our faith in Christ, we met God; we know him now, and we are constantly growing in our knowledge of him.
And if that has happened for us, if we know God today, it is because Jesus chose to reveal him to us.
No one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
If you have faith in Christ, if you have accepted his gift of salvation, if your name is written in heaven, if you know God, it is only because Jesus freely chose to give you this great gift of knowing him. It has nothing to do with you, or anything you did. It is only because of his free choice to reveal the Father to you.
And this fact, Jesus says, should make us wildly, eternally HAPPY.
23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
In other words: you guys are lucky beyond all comprehension. You all are blessed beyond all reason. This is something so many people have wished for, and not gotten. Their souls desired God, but because they didn’t desire him as God—because they didn’t want to submit to God as he reveals himself—they didn’t get God.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Everyone who rejects God gets exactly what they ask for; and they don’t even realize that the thing they rejected is the very thing they always wanted. This is the case for all of us naturally: because we are all sinners, we all naturally reject God.
But God, in his sovereign wisdom, gave all authority to Christ, and Christ, in his incomprehensible love for sinners, chose to reveal the Father to us, though we are no better than those who don’t know God, and sometimes we’re even worse.
We want to find some kind of rhyme or reason in our salvation—I’m saved because I made the right choice to follow Christ, or I’m saved because I understood something about God that others don’t, or I’m saved because I have something God needs to fulfill his plan.
All of that is a lie. If we are saved, it is only because Jesus chose to reveal the Father to us. It is only because when the choice was put in front of us to accept or reject Christ, he showed us what we needed to see, and he made us hear what we needed to hear.
This is why he doesn’t say we are worthy or deserving, but blessed. “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Four Results

This text is absolutely loaded with things for us to take away, but I’d like to simply observe four. If we take what Jesus says here seriously, there will be four inevitable results in our lives; if we take the words of Jesus here in the context of the whole of Scripture, four things will be more and more visible in our lives.
The first result is humility.
If you are saved, it is not because of you, but because it was not you who first chose to accept Christ, but Christ who chose to reveal the Father to you before that. The only reason you made that choice is because he chose you first.
Paul says in :
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him...
Maybe you’ve asked, why did he make me alive? Why me? I have no idea. Jonathan Edwards called this God’s “arbitrary choice”—not arbitrary in the sense that God put no thought into it, but in the sense that there is no discernible reason we can see why God chose whom he did. There is nothing you have ever done, or could ever do, to make yourself more—or less!—worthy in God’s eyes.
Jonathan Edwards called this God’s “arbitrary choice”—not arbitrary in the sense that God put no thought into it, but in the sense that there is no discernible reason we can see why God chose whom he did. There is nothing you have ever done, or could ever do, to make yourself more—or less!—worthy in God’s eyes.
The gospel makes humble servants, who know the grace they have received, although they can’t see the reason why; and who are then driven to show that same grace to others, although they may have every reason to do otherwise.
If you are saved, it is not because of you - humility.
The second result is thankfulness.
If you are saved, your salvation was given to you by the One who had every reason to condemn you. And the measure of your salvation is much greater than most Christians believe: God didn’t just make salvation possible for you; he made you saved. You were dead, and he made you alive.
Paul says in :
Paul says in Colossians 2.13:
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him...
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him...
We were dead in our trespasses—that is, we were dead, and we deserved it. And even so, God made us alive.
If you know this—think about it—it will change the way you see every relationship, and every circumstance. You will be less likely to grow frustrated with people, because you’ll know how frustrating you are. You will be less likely to cynically assume the worst about people, because you’ll know that God doesn’t see you as you are, but as what he’s making you become. You will be less likely to despair at disappointment because (as I often joke), what you deserve is hell…so whatever struggle you’re dealing with, you’re still getting an infinitely good deal.
And if you know this—think about it—it will change the way you see every relationship, and every circumstance. You will be less likely to grow frustrated with people, because you’ll know how frustrating you are. You will be less likely to cynically assume the worst about people, because you’ll know that God doesn’t see you as you are, but as what he’s making you become. You will be less likely to despair at disappointment because (as I often joke), what you deserve is hell…so whatever struggle you’re dealing with, you’re still getting an infinitely good deal.
The third result is assurance. It is the assurance of knowing that if you are saved, you will stay saved. If you look at the language Jesus uses in this text, there is nothing unsure or conditional about it—these things are sure.
In v. 18 Jesus makes this surprising proclamation: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” In other words, this is the end of Satan’s reign.
He says (v. 19) that he gives the seventy-two authority over all the power of the enemy. Now, this is a narrative text: it describes something that happened, not necessarily something that is true for all believers. It doesn’t mean that all Christians will be able to cast out demons.
But Satan’s authority over us is indeed broken—those who belong to Christ are no longer under the authority of Satan. We now have the power to say no to his temptations, and the authority to order him to flee. He will come back and tempt us again, but we now have the authority of Christ to never let him win.
And our assurance is even greater than that. Not only has Satan fallen like lightning from heaven, but our names are written in heaven. In , when John sees his vision of Satan having influence over the world, there is one group who is not under Satan’s influence: everyone who name was written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain ().
If you are saved, you will stay saved - assurance.
If you have faith in Christ, you name is written in the book of life…and it always has been. God had your name written in the book before he even created the world. God’s plans always come to pass; what he proclaims from the beginning, he achieves at the end.
If your name was written in his book before the foundation of the world, it will still be there when Christ comes to renew the earth.
God’s children can have absolute, iron-clad assurance that if they belong to him, they always will.
The fourth result is determination.
cf. v. 18—this is the end of Satan’s reign. Not only has Satan’s authority been broken, the authority Jesus has over Satan has been given to us.
and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
If you are saved, you are part of a much bigger plan than your own personal salvation. The seventy-two were sent out on a mission, and that mission was fulfilled: they did what Jesus sent them to do, and they were equipped to do what he sent them to do.
Proof? We have the power to say no to his temptations, and the authority to order him to flee. He comes back, but we now have the authority of Christ to never let him win.
cf. (he chose us in him before the foundation of the world)
And their mission at that time was a small part in a much, much greater plan—a plan in which all of us play a role as well. The apostle Paul tells us in that he preached
(Satan has authority over those whose names were not written in the book of life before the foundation of the world.)
to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
The church has never been a perfect organization; it has never been filled with perfect people, but sinners just like us. People who are just as sinful as we are, who needed Christ just as much as we do. And yet it is through this church that God has chosen to display his infinite wisdom to the cosmos.
Knowing that should fill us with determination to play our part well. We have been given the grace to be a part of this; we have been given the assurance that it will work, that his will will be done.
cf. : Paul preaches to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
What then could possibly keep us from getting to work and doing what he has called us to do?
The fourth result is obvious, given all that Jesus has said: it is joy.
We have a laundry list of reasons for joy in this text.
This won’t be surprising if you’ve been here for a while, but it may be if you are new to the church, because generally Christians aren’t considered to be a happy bunch. But the Bible takes joy very, very seriously: it commands us to be joyful, and gives us abundant reasons to be joyful.
And we have a laundry list of reasons for joy in this text.
The Christian’s joy is the joy of knowing that although you are imperfect, you are being made perfect; the joy of knowing that although you don’t deserve it, you have received boundless love from the holy God; the joy of knowing that although you sin every single day, you never have to doubt your salvation or wonder if you’re “still saved”; the joy of knowing that you are a part of something bigger—a mission which has eternal, cosmic significance.
When the Lord Jesus himself, Creator and ruler of the universe, rejoices in these things, we can know that we may dive headfirst into our joy in these things as well, with no hesitation or solemnity.
(Satan has authority over those whose names were not written in the book of life before the foundation of the world.)
the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Put all these things together, and you have joy. The joy of knowing that although you are imperfect, you are being made perfect; that although you don’t deserve it, you have received boundless love from the holy God; that although you sin every single day, you never have to doubt your salvation or wonder if you’re “still saved”; the joy of knowing that you are a part of something which has eternal, cosmic significance.
Jesus rejoices that the Father has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. And this fact—the source of our happiness—that our names are written in heaven—that we see and hear things that many people long to see and hear—gives glory to God. To reveal these things to us was his gracious will.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven
Jesus rejoiced in this. And he commands us to rejoice in this.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
So the call of this text could not be simpler: Christians, be happy. Don’t be happy for the sake of happiness; be happy in your God. See the grace that he has given you to open your eyes and open your ears and open your heart; see the grace that he has given you in having written your name in heaven before the world began—and rejoice.
You may find that difficult, depending on what you’re going through. But in every situation, regardless of our circumstance, the commandment to rejoice remains—because our reasons for joy in God cannot be touched by any circumstance or painful situation. No matter what we’re going through, these things will not move or change.
Rejoice, brothers and sisters. Today, tomorrow, and forever.
And if you don’t know God today, this commandment is for you as well—come to Christ, and rejoice in him forever. If you come to him today, not only are you not under God’s wrath; you have received every reason for joy that we have.
Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Related Media
Related Sermons