Luke 10: 20 | By Rev Arek O'Connell
In Luke 10, Jesus sends his disciples out on a mission with explicit instructions. We don’t get a detailed report on what they did, how they accomplished it, or how long it took them. Although, we do receive one important detail, “The seventy-two returned with joy.” They saw God in action. They saw him in a way that perhaps no one had seen up until that point, and maybe, will never see again until heaven. They were given authority and power in the name of Jesus which was most likely very foreign to them. They proclaimed to Jesus that “even the demons submit to us in your name” which leads us to believe that they had to have witnessed what can only be described as kingdom miracles.
This brought them joy, first and foremost. When we do work that is meaningful and makes a difference, it's no secret that it is incredibly rewarding. When we realize that we are capable of doing great things, it often brings us incomparable joy. It is not hard to fall in love with our abilities when we are successful and it's tempting to try and recreate the scenarios in which we can experience that joy again.
Jesus knows this about us and he knew it about the disciples. Which is why he made sure to reorient the source of their joy. He reminded the disciples that it is not our abilities we should rejoice in, but in our standing before the God who sent us. That should be the source of our joy. “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (vs. 20) is such a humbling reminder for the disciples and for us today.
God sends and calls each and every one of us. As a child of God, he will give you opportunities to serve him and by the grace of God, you will sometimes experience great success. In those moments where you experience success and you’re tempted to rejoice in what YOU achieved, step back and remind yourself that your success is a gift from God. Each and every one of our gifts and abilities are in and of themselves a gift we have received from the one who calls us his children. We need to remind ourselves that the fact he calls us children, is cause for us to rejoice.
Rejoice that God calls you His regardless of your success and failure.
God, whether we fail or succeed this side of heaven when you send us, may our source of joy be in the fact that we are one of your children that you send in the first place. May we not rejoice in our success and may we not get too down in our failures, but rejoice that in success and failure, you have written our names in heaven. In Jesus name, Amen.
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