Today we read about Jesus sending out seventy-two of His disciples to preach in towns He planned to visit. His instructions to them were very similar to those He gave His twelve disciples when He sent them out to preach. The seventy-two were also sent out in pairs, so they must have ministered in at least thirty-six towns. Jesus knew that some of the preaching pairs would be unwelcome where He was sending them. However, He sent them anyway, so that no one in those towns could accuse God before His judgment seat, saying, “You never sent anyone to tell me how I could be saved.” The seventy-two were fully authorized as Jesus’ messengers, just as much as Jesus was God the Father’s authorized messenger. He told them, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
When the seventy-two returned from their missions, they were thrilled to report to Jesus that they had not only been able to heal sick people as He had promised them, but they had also been able to cast out demons in His name. They were amazed that demons, whose power had previously awed them, so quickly obeyed, as if they were powerless.
Jesus, however, wasn’t surprised at all. He knew that Satan and his demons were no match for God’s power, and told the seventy-two about something He’d witnessed ages ago. Before the world was created, Satan tried to exalt himself, but was cast out of heaven by God. When he was, he could put up no resistance, because God is infinitely more powerful. Satan fell from heaven like lightning. One second he was in heaven, and BOOM!, the next second he was on the earth! God the Father had given Jesus authority over everything (see Matthew 10:22), including the devil and demons, and Jesus in turn had given the seventy-two disciples authority “over all the power of the enemy” (Matthew 10:19). Demons are no match for God and for those who have God-given authority over them.
As happy as the seventy-two were about their authority over demons, there was something else Jesus said they should be even happier about—that their names were registered in heaven. Just thinking about how God had revealed the truth to those who were childlike, like the seventy-two who had just returned from their missions, moved Jesus to begin thanking His Father. As He later remarked, His disciples were so privileged to witness His ministry, something that Old Testament prophets and kings longed to see. How privileged we are to be able to read about Jesus’ life and ministry. How blessed we are to know Him and His Father! And how thankful we should be that our names are also recorded in heaven in “the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27)!
Q. From whom does God hide the truth?
A. From those who think they are wise and clever (see Luke 10:21). Those are people who are proud. That’s why it’s a good idea regularly to admit that you need God to enlighten you, because there’s a lot you don’t understand. Proverbs says, “With humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
Q. Jesus told the seventy-two that He had given them authority over all the power of the enemy and that they could “walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them” (Luke 10:19). Did He literally mean that they could crush snakes and scorpions?
A. That is unlikely, and we certainly don’t have a biblical example of any of Jesus’ disciples doing such a thing. More probable is that Jesus was referring to demons when He spoke of snakes and scorpions. Most people are afraid of those two creatures, and they’re also afraid of evil spirits. But those who follow Jesus have authority over them and have no good reason to be afraid. According to what Jesus said in Mark 16:17, all believers in Him have authority to cast out demons.
Application: Just as Jesus sent out the seventy-two, so we have been sent out by Him to be His representatives. The New Testament says that we are “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). And just like the seventy-two, we are fully authorized by Jesus. He said in John 13:20, “Truly, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.” Are you acting like Jesus’ representative, doing what He would want you to do in every situation?