Philadelphia Eagles fans are feeling very fine today after the franchise won its first Super Bowl title ever last night. The great joy of being a sports enthusiast is to share in the elation of victory when your team is the champion.
But championships are difficult to come by. On average, it should only happen once ever 32 years in the NFL, for example. When I coached in high school and we were able to win some state championships, I told the kids that we really needed to celebrate. And that is because winning is not easy at all, and you may never again get to experience it.
In following Christ, we are a part of the ultimate winning outfit – God’s kingdom. Nothing can ultimately prevail against it. The creator God has called us to be a member, and this is indeed a great privilege.
Today’s passage is very similar to a previous section in Luke’s gospel where he wrote about the sending out of the 12 disciples. This chapter tells of another group of followers who numbered a total of 72 individuals. In similar fashion as the Disciples, these were other close followers of Jesus who could travel about to towns and villages and announce the nearness of the Kingdom.
As with the 12, these ministers would be subject to many difficulties and persecutions. Those who demonstrated hospitality were the true believers who responded to the message of grace and God’s messiah being upon the earthly scene. But a majority of hearers in places such as several mentioned in the passage (from northern Galilee) would not receive the message. Certain judgment awaited them – condemnation beyond other places that never heard the message or saw the miracles.
The 72 are amazed at the authority they possessed to serve – that even demons were subject to their message. But Jesus answers this by encouraging them to have what is a greater perspective – the blessing they had as members of the winning team.
This section ends with the joy that Christ has at seeing how these simple folks had received the message and were trophies of grace and faith. He reminds the disciples of their rare privilege – to be alive and to be seeing things that the prophets wrote about from a distance. Many of the great saints of the Old Testament had a deep longing to be able to see and experience what the disciples were a part of every day.
And now, post-resurrection, living in the church age with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are actually in an even better position. We live and serve in a wonderful time of opportunity to see the gospel spread creatively near and far.
So, in spite of the challenges of oft being like sheep among wolves, it is a wonderful privilege and identification to be a part of God’s kingdom, God’s team.
In serving, do so with joy and confidence, also praying that others may be a part of working in the same joyful harvest that we have as our assignment.
Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.
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-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.”
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.”