Luke 10:17-20 (NIV) 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.”
On verses 17-20: The 72 that Jesus sent out return from their mission trips and report of how demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name (v17). In response Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (v18). What does Jesus mean? I think there are at least two possible meanings here. One possible meaning is that Jesus is rejoicing with his 72 students over how the kingdom of God was triumphing over the kingdom of Satan.
A second possible meaning for verse 18 is that Jesus is warning his disciples, because in heaven Jesus once saw Satan, who at one time was a powerful member of God’s kingdom, suddenly fall from grace and ousted from heaven because he desired his own fame, power and glory more than he wanted God to be glorified. Thus verse 18 could be taken as Jesus warning his disciples to guard against pride and placing their hope in their accomplishments. At the same time it’s Jesus encouraging them to keep placing their hope on the fact that they are children of God whose names are written in heaven (v20).
What’s the lesson here? Don’t base your hope, happiness or identity on your “ministry success” but on God’s love and mercy which made you His child.
Another lesson we can learn from verses 17-20 is that Jesus has given his followers authority to overcome evil spirits. As Jesus says in verse 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”. As a child of God, you have been given authority in Jesus Christ to overcome the enemy, including evil spirits. I talk about this in more detail in a message this past Sunday at THRIVE called “Free…Finally”.
Luke 10:21 (NIV) 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 was your good pleasure.
On verse 21: The beautiful thing about God’s kingdom is that God makes His kingdom available not to those who think they are so “wise and learned”, but to those who are humble enough to come to Jesus like unassuming “little children” (v21). That is why the kingdom of God is not just for the rich alone or the poor alone, not just for the young alone or the old alone, not just for the educated alone or the uneducated alone. The kingdom of God is for everyone who is willing to humble themselves and recognize their need for a Saviour, no matter what background they come from. It’s the condition of your heart and in particular your humility toward Jesus that ultimately determines how much of God’s kingdom you “get”.
Luke 10:22 (NIV) 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.”
On verse 22: This verse shows us the close trusting relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son. If you want to get to know God, it’s about getting to know Jesus, for it is Jesus who reveals who God the Father is.
Luke 10:23-24 (NIV) 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.”
On verses 23-24: Jesus reminds his disciples just how blessed they are, for they are enjoying the presence, witnessing the power and hearing the words of the very one whom prophets and kings in the Old Testament had been waiting upon and writing about for centuries. May we never take for granted how blessed we are that today we get to enjoy God’s presence, witness His power and hear His words through Jesus Christ.
Luke 10:25-26 (NIV) 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
On verses 25-26: A religious teacher of the law tries to test Jesus by asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. In reply Jesus asks him a question: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” (v26) From this we can learn an important lesson: whenever you have a question for God or about God, ask yourself, “What does God’s Word (the Bible) say about it?” Make it your habit, whenever you have a question about God or life, to search the Bible for the answer. You may just find that the answer you were looking for was already “written in the law”.
Luke 10:27-29 (NIV) 27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
On verses 27-29: In response to Jesus’ question in verse 26, amazingly this teacher of the law sums up the Jewish law by citing the very two commands that Jesus would use to sum of God’s law (Matthew 22:34-38): love God with everything you have and love your neighbour as yourself. Perhaps this teacher had heard Jesus give the same answer before and was repeating it back to him. But despite having the correct answer in his head (as Jesus would affirm in verse 28), this teacher of the law had the wrong purpose in his heart. First, his entire motive in talking to Jesus was to “test” Jesus (v25), that is, to stump Jesus and to possibly find a basis for accusing him. Second, this teacher of the law “wanted to justify himself”. In other words, he was looking for grounds to support his opinion that he was already saved and had already “inherited” (i.e. earned) eternal life.
What can we learn from this?
1. It is very possible to know the right answers but still have the wrong heart. It is interesting (and most likely on purpose) that Luke places this incident right after quoting Jesus as saying that God has revealed His kingdom not to the wise and learned who are proud of their knowledge but to little children who come to God humbly (Luke 10:21). We want to come to God not just with the right head knowledge, but even more with a soft, humble and hungry heart, knowing that we don’t have all the answers, but that Jesus is the one we need.
2. In order for anyone to “inherit” (i.e. earn) eternal life, it requires that he or she must perfectly obey the law of God, which is summed up with the two commands “Love God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”. The problem is that none of us has perfectly obeyed those commands. All of us have fallen short of it and thus none of us is deserving of eternal life. Only Jesus obeyed God’s commands perfectly and it is only through trusting in Jesus’ perfect performance as well as his death on the cross that we can be saved.
Heavenly Father, may my hope always be not in what I do but in what You have done for me. May my identity not be in my accomplishments, but in the gracious fact that my name is written in heaven and all because of Jesus. Since it’s not the proud “wise and learned” who get your kingdom but little children, I pray that every day I would come to You with a humble, hungry heart, always thanking You for the grace You have shown me and never taking it for granted. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!