5/25/23 Devotional from Ed
May 25, 2023
Text: Luke 10:17-20
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Devotional: At the beginning of chapter ten in Luke’s gospel, Jesus appointed 70 disciples and sent them in pairs to places he intended to go, saying, “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.”
Our Scripture reading above takes place when these 70 “returned with joy” to Jesus. However, is the joy because they’ve come back to Jesus, or is the joy from something else?
Luke doesn’t tell us if there’s more to this conversation, but can’t you just hear the boasting from this group? “Jesus, your name gives us power! Everyone (including demons) submits to us!
Thus, who is this about? Jesus or the disciples?
Jesus is smart, though, and detects there may be something behind this outward joy. Instant gratification? Arrogance? He then gives the opposite retort to immediate satisfaction, saying “rejoice that your reward is coming.”
"Come on, Jesus. Can’t we have just a little fun right now? I mean, we can get even spirits to submit to us! Heaven is down the road."
Do we ever hear Jesus when we get ahead of ourselves? “Yes, dear disciple, I understand your love for power, you are a human after all, but that’s not what I called you to do. I called you to spread my good news in parts unseen. My name doesn’t represent exclusion. Rejoice that you’re already in the club and keep working. The joy is bringing more into the club without worrying about your ego. Put off any adrenaline you get from false “power” and find rest in the ironic twist that you’re truly not in charge.
Theologian Fred Craddock states this simply: “Luke seems to contrast deliberately the rejoicing of the Seventy and the rejoicing of Jesus; they rejoice in their success, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus warns “the Seventy that triumphalism is an inappropriate spirit among disciples.”
May we rejoice in the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Holy God, may your Spirit find its way into each of us today and beyond. Guard us from triumphalism! Amen.
Work Cited: Craddock, Fred. Luke: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Luke Mays, ed. (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990), 146-147.