Jesus called his disciples to be “Fishers of Men.” They were called to be used by the Holy Spirit in bringing fish into the boat. These broken and beloved fellows were going to participate with the Divine One in seeing many sinners brought into the Kingdom of God. Therefore, for a time, Jesus trained them. He taught them truth and modeled the ministry before them. Then, when the time was right, he sent them out on their first mission. In groups of two they were dispersed to various various towns and regions.
During their initial revival campaigns, these men enjoyed both sorrow and success. They were opposed by those in the demonic realm. They were mocked by influential men, threatened by governmental leaders, and shown the door by many. However, in the face of Satan, demons were exorcised, bodies were healed, minds were enlightened, souls were redeemed, emotions were lifted, and families were transformed. Great was the power of Christ flowing through them, and they returned incredibly excited over what they had been able to accomplish for Jesus:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17)
Jesus acknowledged their joy. It was pretty exciting what these zealots, sailors, and tax collectors had been able to do for the kingdom.
Jesus also acknowledged their struggle and their victory. He affirmed their calling, their warfare, and there end. Jesus gave them a birds-eye view of what he and they would ultimately accomplish:
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 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. (Luke 10:18-19)
The teacher could have been speaking of the former excommunication of Satan from heaven. He could have been referring to that which was taking place in his present era; the dominion of Satan was progressively being destroyed by Christ and his kingdom. Jesus also could have been referring to that which would take place in the final hour — when Satan, hell, and hellions are cast into the Lake of Fire. There is a bit of ambiguity here. However, whether Jesus was speaking of his past, present, or future victory, he was promising ultimate success to his men. The church would never perish. The gates of hell would never prevail. His disciples would be more than conquerors through Christ who loved them so. They would tread on serpents. God would crush Satan under their feet.
Then, strangely, Jesus commanded them to stop rejoicing. In his divine wisdom, he thought it best to change their focus:
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)
What is going on here? Jesus is telling his disciples to rejoice more in what God has done for them than in what they are doing for God. Sure, it is wonderful that they did miracles. Sure, it is wonderful that miracles were performed, bodies were healed, and demons were sent running. Sure, it is wonderful to work for Jesus and through the Spirit, but there was something more wonderful in which to glory. These men were to find their most joy in the fact that their names had already been permanently engraved in the Lamb’s Book of Life written before the foundation of the world. Yes, their sacrificial service and obedience was to bring them a measure of happiness, but their spiritual security in Jesus was to bring them intoxicating glee.
Friends, Jesus calls us to be his servants. Rejoice in this calling, and rejoice as you find yourself being more and more faithful and more increasingly used in his service.
Rejoice that you are being used by Christ to squelch the life out of the Serpent. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world; find enjoyment in this reality.
Find joy in the fact that you are being used as a light in the darkness. It is wonderful to be used in God’s harvest. Sow seed, and dance when the Spirit allows you to see the fruit of your labors.
In addition, enjoy the fact that you are improving life in your community. In charitable love, you are called to be salt and light. You are tasked with bringing justice, encouragement, and healing to the nations. Rejoice as you serve God by improving your neighbors relationally, emotionally, physically, and financially. This should put a smile on your face when, after your diligent work, you served the possessed, oppressed, handicapped, impoverished, hungry, and lost.
If the Holy Spirit does something miraculous through you, be excited and glad. Sometimes, this happens through the least of men and women.
Yes, find joy in the fact that you have been somewhat faithful to the call of Christ. As you come back to him, and hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servants,” enjoy this and rejoice.
However, all these ministerial joys of self-sacrifice should be dwarfed by your relational joy based upon his sacrifice for you. Jesus is telling you to rejoice more in what he has done for you than in what you are doing for God.
- He saw your sin — past, present, and future — and then he gazed upon you in mercy and grace.
- He chose you before the foundation of the world and penned your name in his Book.
- He sent himself to earth to live and die for you.
- He fulfilled all his obligations of holiness and justice so you might live a debt-free life. He paid it all; you have nothing left to pay.
- He fills you.
- He marries you.
- He cherishes and adores you; it is not a dysfunctional marriage.
- He comforts you.
- He prays for you.
- He transforms you from the inside out. He lovingly disciples you and promises to never leave or forsake you.
- He answers your prayers.
- He gives you wisdom.
- He gifts you and promises to use you in his service.
- He constructs and eternal home for you, and has it on his Day-timer to return, resurrect, recreate, and take you to paradise.
Absolutely, find some joy in what you and others are doing for Jesus through his Spirit. However, he presents a better reason for you to be glad today. As his elect and secured saints, rejoice more in what he has done for you than in what you have done for him.