daily biblical sermons

The disciples are not to rejoice so much in their missionary success as in their own salvation
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Saturday, 26th Week of the Year, October 07, 2023
Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29, Psalm 68 (69), Luke 10:17-24

Biblical citations are from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’



“In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered 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 any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’



“Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which 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’” (Luke 10:17-24).



The seventy disciples that Jesus had sent out on a missionary tour to preach the gospel finally returned and gave their report to Jesus on what had happened. They were astounded that even evil spirits came out of people in Jesus’ name when they commanded them to come out.



Jesus first replied favorably to this statement, saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). In other words, their success in driving out Satan’s minions from people and advancing the kingdom of God against the kingdom of Satan was a victory over Satan himself, and so Jesus saw this victory in a vision as Satan falling like lightning from heaven.



By this statement we see the importance of their mission, that it was actually crippling and would ultimately destroy Satan and his kingdom. Jesus’ vision depicts the future, when the apostles would go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. The effects of this mission would be tremendous, greatly weakening Satan’s power.



Yet Jesus warns his disciples not to be puffed up with pride over their success and begin to think that the evil spirits went out because they were such eloquent preachers that they were able to control even evil spirits.



Pride can easily take hold of us if we are successful in our ministry. We must therefore be careful that this does not happen. Jesus warns us about this, saying, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).



Our real joy should be in our salvation – “that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We should rejoice in our own salvation and that of many people who hear the gospel that we preach and are converted and justified by God, because of their faith in Christ, whose death on the cross saves us from our sins. If we and our converts continue faithful to Christ and his moral teaching until the end of our life, we will enter into eternal life in heaven after death.



This is the main thing to rejoice in, that we ourselves and those that have heard our preaching and put their faith in Christ have been forgiven for our sins. Having been forgiven ourselves, we bring this same forgiveness to others by preaching that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Faith in his death on the cross saves us, for he died so that he could vicariously suffer our punishment for our sins for us on the cross so that we would not have to suffer it in hell if only we put our faith in him.



God then declares and thereby makes us ungodly sinners righteous, filled with the righteousness of God himself. This is the main thing that we as missionary disciples of Christ should rejoice in, namely that we have obtained the gift of grace, justification, and salvation, and that we are able to share it with others by preaching the gospel.



This is rejoicing that our names are written in heaven. When we put our faith in Christ, our names are written in heaven as those who are saved, unless we apostatize and renounce our faith. In that case our names will be erased.



So let us rejoice that our names are still written in heaven as those who are saved, and let us be faithful and watchful until the end of our life doing God’s will and keeping his biblically revealed moral law. Then we will have inner assurance that we are saved.



Jesus notices that those who receive the gospel with faith are not usually the wise and understanding of this world, but rather babes, at first mostly uneducated fishermen, tax collectors, and harlots who repented at the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, and his disciples. So Jesus rejoices that these things have been revealed to babes, to simple people of faith, for that is for the most part God’s plan.



Well-educated people have to accept the faith as a child in humility, not boasting of their own intelligence, education, or wisdom, but rather humbly submitting themselves to Christ with faith.



Then Jesus says something extraordinary about himself, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Luke 10:22).



Remember that the Father and Son are both God, equal in divinity, and therefore only the Son understands the Father, and only the Father understands the Son. And it is only the Son as a man here on earth who reveals the Father to us through his teachings and the example of his life.



Then Jesus tells his inner group of disciples how blessed they are to see him. How many generations of Israelites longed for the Messiah and did not see him; but you see him, for he is standing before you in the flesh. And blessed are you for hearing what you hear, for many have longed to hear the teaching of the Messiah, but did not hear it. You, however, hear him.


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