Jesus is the Son of Man
Rejoice that Your name is written in Heaven
All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in our Bibles to Luke chapter 10. It feels great to be back and I thank you all for your prayers and love. And especially Dave for filling in the pulpit and I could rest assured that the Bible was being taught and preached while we were sick.
So, since it has been a few weeks, Ill try to get you caught back up in where we are in Luke’s Gospel. Last time, the passage we looked at was Jesus sending out a bunch of the disciples, two by two, sending them out as, essentially missionaries. Their job, as Jesus told them, was to preach that the Kingdom of God has drawn near, and they were to do signs and wonders to confirm and establish the truth of their testimony.
The point to that teaching is that those of us who accept and submit to Jesus Christ, we are already citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. While it will not be fully inaugurated until Christ comes back, we are not future citizens of that kingdom, but current citizens. On the other side of that, Jesus told his disciples, was that those who reject the message and grace of Jesus Christ, Woe to them, for they will receive the perfect and full wrath and justice of God and will never be citizens of the kingdom of heaven. And so, Jesus sent them out to the towns and villages around them.
With that, lets go ahead and read this week’s text, Luke chapter 10, verses 17 through 24. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version though I encourage you to open up and read from your preferred translation. Luke 10:17-24. The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the following:
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. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
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.[b] 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.”
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.”
Thus says the Word of God.
So, the disciples went out, 70, or 72 of them, depending on your translation, and they went out to preach the kingdom of Heaven. Guess what? They returned with joy! They were all excited to tell Jesus all about their trip. This was a successful trip! They said to Jesus, “Even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
Now, Jesus says something that theologians have differed on the meaning of for almost 2000 years. He says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” Some think that this is Jesus referring to an event in the far past, possibly Satan’s fall from Heaven sometime before Genesis 3. Some think that this is a view of the far future, a scene out of Revelation, possibly Satan falling into the Lake of Fire.
You may or may not agree with me, but based on the context and the wording, I fall into the group if theologians that see this as Jesus referring to an event that happened right then, as the disciples were on their mission trip. This would be much more of a present to that time event than an event in the far past or the far future.
This would mean that the work of the disciples, in Jesus’ name, was a major blow against Satan in the spiritual warfare that is going in this world. F.F. Bruce says it this way: When Jesus’s messengers found that the demons- malignant forces that held men and women in bondage- were compelled to obey them as they commanded them in Jesus name, to come out of those people in whose lives they had taken up residence, this was a sign that the Kingdom of God was conquering the kingdom of evil.
Bruce also writes: Many of the Rabbis held that, at the end of the age, God or the Messiah would overthrow Satan: the report of the Seventy showed that Satan’s overthrow had already taken place.
Jesus continues telling the disciples, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, with serpents being a reference to Genesis 3. And these disciples as they go out have God given authority to cast out these demons and to wage spiritual warfare.
Now, he also says that nothing shall hurt them. This is one of the texts that we have to look at and make sure that we ask, is this passage descriptive or prescriptive? Meaning, and we have to ask this a lot in the Old Testament in general and in the book of Acts especially. Does this text speak to me personally, or is it sharing what was said and meant for that time then?
In other words, is Jesus telling us that nothing can hurt us, given whatever special parameters are set up? Or is he specifically talking to the disciples in this specific context?
In this case the answer is that Jesus is not talking to us here and now with this passage. Jesus is telling the disciples alone that, while they are doing what Jesus commissioned them to do, while they are accomplishing what Jesus sent them out to do.
A misinterpretation of this passage is what leads to those Christians who believe that any true Christian can safely handle venomous snakes and be safe from snake bites and other things of that sort. They point to Paul towards the end of Acts when he gets bit by a snake and lives, convincing the people on that island of what he is trying to tell them about God.
Jesus, and the Bible, never, in context say that you will not get hurt, that you will not die, that you will not get sick, that life will be easy, that you will be healthy and wealthy if you just have enough faith. What he does say is that God is in complete control and if you are doing what he has called you to do, he will protect you until you are done with what HE has for you to accomplish, not what we assume he has for us to accomplish. His timing, his control, his decision, his will.
Jesus then says in verse 20, that’s all well and good, but remember the important things. He tells them, Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Yeah, that the spirits are subject to you, in my name, but that’s not the important thing here. Remember, first off, that they are subject to you, IN MY NAME. That’s great, but it is clearly secondary. It is not the main point. The most important thing to remember is that your number 1 priority is that your name is written in Heaven.
This fact, that if we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ that our names are written in Heaven, this is what we shall rejoice in. Everything else besides this is secondary.
Our names being written in heaven is a reference to the eternal life in the kingdom of God. We saw last week that we are citizens of Heaven, even now, not just in the future. That means that our names are right now written in Heaven. The eternal life that we receive is a part of the glory of God that we get to celebrate.
The Bible makes references to our names being written in heaven throughout. Moses mentions it. Daniel mentions it. Paul mentions it. The author of Hebrews mentions it. John mentions it in Revelation. Revelation 13:8 should be one of the most comforting and encouraging verses for any believer in Christ. As one commentator writes: The Apostle John went so far as to say that the names of Gods people were “written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”
Once God has written our name in the book of life, it cannot be removed. And we see there that the names in the book were written in there before the foundations of the world.
As those whose names are written, we get to look forward to no pain, no tears, no death. We get to rejoice that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We get to rejoice in and remember that we are children of God. We read that we are adopted as His children, sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are purchased, obtained, redeemed by Jesus Christ. And we are given to Christ by God the Father. We get to receive something that non-believers cannot understand fully. We get joy. And we get peace beyond understanding.
This is our hope.
This is our joy.
This is our promise.
This is our everything…
In verse 21, Luke writes that Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit. The wording used here is a more intense, passionate wording for joy than any other spot in scripture, including the previous verse where he tells us to rejoice in our names being written in heaven.
There seems to be two reasons why this rejoicing is so much more intense than our rejoicing. First, he is God, so his rejoicing and all his emotions, his communications, his everything are perfect and complete. Secondly, Jesus is rejoicing in the trinity itself. Jesus, the Son of God, the second part of the trinity is rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity and he is praying to God the Father, the first person of the trinity.
And its important to be reminded of the details of the trinity every once in a while. We need to remember that Jesus is God, but he is not God the Father. We remember that neither Jesus, nor God the Father are the Holy Spirit. And we remember that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a force, and is not Jesus nor God the Father. All three are God. There is only one God. They are one God, but they are different persons. They are not one person playing different parts. Any analogy we try to use will fall apart and become heresy in the end. They can be helpful, but we need to be careful. The trinity is not an egg, a tree, water, parents, one person as Son, Father and Uncle, or Mom, daughter and grandmother. All three are individual, all three are God and there is one God.
And I think there is a third part as well. He is rejoicing in our salvation, in the disciple’s salvation. Later in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 15, Jesus says I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
So, the rejoicing that Jesus does here and in the Holy Spirit, praying to God the Father, is a complete and perfect rejoicing and we are the beneficiaries of it.
And Jesus prays to God the Father, saying, “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.[b] 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.”
We were talking a few Wednesdays ago, during prayer meeting and we were talking about dual truths. These are two truths that can seem contradictory on the surface but are actually both true.
We see throughout the Bible, first, Mans’s responsibility. We and we alone are responsible for our sins. There is no “The Devil made me do it.” We and we alone are responsible to repent and turn from our sins. We and we alone are responsible to have saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.
But we also see, at the same time, just as true, and just as biblically, God’s sovereignty. God the Father has called those who will respond to him. And only those who God has called will respond.
IF you don’t know Christ, there is no salvation. IF you don’t know the Father, you can’t know Christ. If you don’t know Christ, you don’t know God the Father.
If you think you know God, but it is without knowing the true, biblical Christ, you are worshipping a false God and in that, there is no salvation.
Jesus then turns to the disciples privately and tells them how lucky they are. He tells them to recognize their privilege that they are able to see this all firsthand, as eyewitnesses.
David, Moses, Elijah, none of them ever got to see what the disciples were seeing. They got to see Christ in the flesh. They got to hear His teachings in person. And you and I, we need to remember our privilege as well. We don’t get to see what the disciples saw and heard in person, but we have the most trustworthy record of what happened all those 2000 years ago and we can hold it in our hands. Its our Bible. Most households have multiple ones in their home. Everyone with a computer, a smart phone, a kindle a tablet has access to the Holy scriptures at any time you want. We are blessed and privileged beyond our understanding.
As we remember how blessed we are today, we remember the Words of Jesus that we looked at here today.
Focus on the first things first. Jesus Christ.
Recognize and celebrate the blessings and the gifts of God.
Rejoice in our salvation, just as God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and the angels of God do.
Remember that our salvation is through and only through Christs saving work on the cross.
Rejoice that, based on our salvation, our names are permanently written in Heaven and have been since before the foundations of the World.
Lastly, that our salvation is by God’s grace alone, poured out on us through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, as told by the scriptures alone and all of this, everything we looked at today, every thing God wills and decrees and allows, everything that happens in God’s sovereignty is done for the Glory of God alone.