1. Read again the Sermon Notes for Luke 9:1-6, Second Sunday before Lent. The texts from Lk. 9 and Lk. 10 are quite similar, but different.
2. The account of sending out the seventy is found only in Lk. 10:1-17. The other Gospels do not report it.
3. Evidently the seventy were sent to Perea and Judea where Jesus Himself was about to come. See vs. 2. The seventy would be defenseless. Vs. 3. But they were to trust in the Lord. Vss. 4, 7, 8. They were to preach the peace of God, the Gospel. Vss. 5, 6, 9. They were to heal the sick. Vs. 9. They were not to worry if people would not listen. Vss. 6, 10-12. The Word of the missionary is the Word of God. Vs. 16.
4. We do not know how long the seventy were gone. Thy returned about six months before Jesus' suffering and death.
5. The seventy returned with joy. But their joy was caused by the wrong reason. People who become Christians begin doing god's will. But their works for the Lord, even those which are according to His will, should not be the cause of their rejoicing. The Lord gave the seventy the authority to cast out demons. That was His will. But, in vs. 20, He plainly tells them that they should not rejoice over casting out demons.
6. Vs. 19 reads literally: "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and even over all the power of the enemy (the devil), and therefore nothing shall injure you." Jesus is not saying that we should play around with snakes. He is saying that not even snakes and scorpions can harm us because Jesus has given us authority over the most terrible enemy, Satan himself. That should be the reason for our rejoicing. Like Job, I might lose my health, my wealth, my fame, my friends and even my wife but, like Job, I should rejoice and say: "I know that my Redeemer lives." My Redeemer conquered Satan and death. Heb. 2:14; II Tim. 1:10; Rev. 12:10; Jn. 12:31.
7. Vs. 18 of our text tells us that Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning. He fell from the favor of God by his rebellion. It was like lightning, in the twinkling of an eye, sudden and total. And, at the same time, Jesus conquered Satan. When did that happen? Some think Jesus is referring to Gen. 3:15, the first promise of the Gospel. Some think that Jesus refers to the individual casting out of evil spirits mentioned in our text. Some think he is referring to His suffering and death. It is all of these. Jesus' whole endeavor was to conquer Satan and death for us. Paul says: "Thanks be to God Who has given us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ."
8. "Rejoice that your names have been inscribed in heaven." Because of His perfect life, suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus has given you the very best gift, eternal life with Him in heaven. I Jn. 5:12 says: "The one who has the Son has life." God and heaven are yours through Jesus Christ. That is what should make you happy just as it made Job happy even in his deepest grief. Job 19:25.26. The thought of going back to heaven is what made Jesus happy. Heb. 12:2. Paul could rejoice in the Lord even when he was in prison and chains. Php. 3:1.
9. To summarize: Rejoice in what the Lord in His mercy has done for you, not in what you do for Him. What you do for Him is His will and you must do it. But if you rejoice in that you might lead yourself astray.
10. Jesus practices what He preached. In vs. 21 He rejoices over what God does for mankind by His mercy. If people are arrogant and impenitent God hides the Gospel from them. But if, like little children, they trust in Him alone He reveals Himself as a gracious and loving God. All of this the Father has entrusted to Jesus, vs. 22, Who is true God and true man.
11. N.T. Christians are very blessed. They have been privileged to see and hear things which many O.T. prophets and kings did not see and hear. I have privileges which David, Jehoshaphat, Isaiah and Jeremiah did not have. Vss. 23 and 24.
THEME: Rejoice in the Lord
Over and over the Epistle to the Philippians tells us to rejoice in the Lord at all times. See Ph. 2:18; 3:1; 4:4. Paul said this to the Philippians when he was in prison in Rome. Similarly when Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi (Acts 16) they were singing praises to God in the night. When Peter and John returned to the Jerusalem Christians after being persecuted by the Sanhedrin, the congregation joined in praising God (Acts 4:24-30). From our text we see that Christians sometimes rejoiced in the wrong thing. We must listen to our Lord.
I. WHY WE MUST REJOICE ONLY IN THE LORD
A. Sinful man very easily makes himself his god. Read Mt. 7:21-23. On judgment day there will be people who say to the Lord: "Did we not teach in Your name? Did we not cast out devils in Your name? Did we not do many miracles in Your name?" But He will say to them: "I never knew you. Depart from Me you who work iniquity." We are astounded to read that. Why will Jesus reject them? They did not do the will of the heavenly Father. Jesus gave the seventy the authority to tread on Satan's power. And so they cast out devils in Jesus' name. When they returned to Jesus they rejoiced only in their ability to cast out demons. They were boasting only of what they could do and were not giving God the glory.
B. Sinful man's deeds are tainted by sin. Paul confessed: "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing." Rom. 7:18. The sinful flesh of man is constantly operative. Paul says also at Rom. 7:21: "I find then the principle that, for me who wants to do the good, evil is present with me." Even our best deeds are tainted by sin. Rather than rejoice we should always be asking for God's forgiveness.
C. Doing God's will is our duty, not for our boasting. Read Lk. 17:7-10. There Jesus makes this point: "Likewise also you must say 'We are unprofitable servants. We have only done what it was our duty to do.'" With reference to Gal. 5:1 Luther said: "The Gospel gives me freedom only in my conscience. From there on it's all obligation." I am obligated to love God with heart, soul and mind. I am obligated to love my neighbor as myself. That's not rejoicing.
II. WHAT TRUE REJOICING IS
A. It is based only on what God has done for me. Jesus sums up all that God has done for all men thus: "I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven." Jesus is saying that He is victor over Satan. His victory over Satan at the same time is victory over sin and death. Adam's fall brought sin, death and slavery to Satan upon all men. All people have sinned. Therefore all people die. Therefore all people are lost. Read Heb. 2:14; II Tim. 1:10; I Cor. 15:55; Rev. 12:10; Jn. 12:31. When Christ was crucified, the ruler of this world, Satan, was thrown out. Jesus says that this gives us authority over all the power of Satan, our enemy. Therefore, nothing will harm you. This does not mean immunity from suffering but rather deliverance from it. Like Job, we suffer much from Satan, but Jesus will deliver us from every evil work. II Tim. 4:18.
B. Your names are written in heaven. Is. 43:1 reads "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine." At 45:4 God says: "I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me." Jesus says at Jn. 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me and I give to them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will take them out of my hand." Paul said at Gal. 6:14 "God forbid that I boast in anything except the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ." In heaven we will sing only about what Jesus did for us, not what we did for Him. Rev. 7:12.