We find ourselves slowly emerging from a global pandemic that has captured our attention and changed the way we live. These events will certainly stand out as a pivotal time that will loom large in our thinking. There are dates and times that mark generations when profound social changes happened. Dates such as July 4, 1776, or December 7, 1941, or November 22, 1963, of September 11, 2001 are remembered as being decisive moments in history. People often remark how their lives were changed by those historic events. This September 11th we will mark the nineteenth anniversary of the event we call 9-11. Often, in our conversations we speak about the times before 9-11 as being quite different from the days after. In fact, our society is still greatly affected by the events of that day.
Were you to move forward twenty years from today, and someone asked you what was the most important thing you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think you will say? Will you talk about certain household items that disappeared for a time? Will you talk about the number of people wearing masks in public places? Will you recall the fact that you were not allowed to eat inside a restaurant? Will you tell people that you were part of the class of 2020 that had no graduation ceremonies? Will you tell your children that your parents had to teach you at home? What do you think you will remember?
I asked a thirteen-year-old what he thought he would remember in twenty years. He spoke about being incredibly bored by having to stay at home all the time. Events in which he had planned to participate had been canceled and he wondered if things would ever be the same. On a positive note, he mentioned that his family had become closer during these days.
I have a more disturbing take-away. As we have gone through this difficult period, I have noted that references to the Lord have been very rare. We have developed a profound man-centered approach to enduring this crisis. We are undoubtedly dependent on the many health care providers for their help and government leaders for their work and as a society, we should be thankful for all they have done. But, do we see the hand of God at work in our lives?
In these verses, Jesus said, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” All things must include the events currently unfolding around us. The purpose of this passage is to present a Christ-centered view of life. Jesus is absolutely superior in His authority, in providing salvation, and in revealing the truth about God the Father. Only in recognizing Christ’s superiority can we see His wisdom that is being displayed all around us.
JESUS IS SUPERIOR IN AUTHORITY. Luke 10:17-19
The Seventy Return to Jesus. At the beginning of Luke 10, Jesus sent seventy of His disciples on a mission trip. Having now completed nearly a year of ministry in and around the region of Galilee, Jesus had now turned south and was traveling to Jerusalem, where He knew His sacrificial death on the cross awaited. As He and His disciples journeyed through Samaria, He sent a group of seventy disciples out in pairs to go to the region on the eastern side of the Jordan River, to preach that the Kingdom of God had come near.
It is not recorded exactly where they went or how long they were gone. Not only did Jesus tell them to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom; He also told them to “heal those who are sick.” There were many small towns and rural villages on the eastern side of the Jordan River, and they needed to hear the messianic message.
Upon their return, the disciples gave a joyful report to Jesus. Their report did not focus on the response to the Kingdom message or the people who had been healed but on the surprising authority they had over demons. Evidently, many of them had encountered people who were possessed by demons and the disciples had the authority to cast the demons out, thus freeing and healing the afflicted people. They understood that the authority for this spiritual triumph had been given to them by Jesus because they said, “The demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name.”
Watching Satan Fall. Jesus Christ is God the Son, and He is equal in every respect to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As God, Jesus is the ultimate authority and power in the universe. To emphasize His superior authority, Jesus recounted an amazing event: the fall of Satan from heaven. Who was Satan and how did he fall from heaven? Satan began his existence as the “star of the morning, the son of the dawn” according to Isaiah 14:12. God gave him the highest honor by making him “the anointed cherub who covers.” (Ezekiel 28:14) The Bible does not tell us exactly when the cherub who became Satan was created but most likely it was before the creation of the human race. Like human beings, God created angels with volition, or a will, giving them the ability to make moral decisions. Along with this ability God made them accountable for their choices.
At some point, Satan’s mind became filled with pride. Perhaps he assumed he could keep his thoughts from the Lord, but the Lord knows what is in every mind. In his own mind, Satan thought he would ascend to heaven and raise his throne above God, thus giving him more authority than God. He thought he could change from being an angel to being equal with the Most High. The Bible tells us in Ezekiel 28:16 that Satan was internally filled with violence and he sinned, making him the first sinner. At that moment God cast Satan down from his lofty position to face eternal condemnation.
In his fall, Satan deceived a large number of other angels to follow him in his rebellion and they all became known as evil spirits and demons. These beings are real and although God has not permitted us to see or hear them, they can influence our decisions in life. It was Satan, disguised as a serpent, who deceived Eve and then Adam in the Garden of Eden, causing them to join him in his rebellion and plunging the human race into sin. We know this from the Scripture in Revelation 12:9 that says, “The great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old, who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
While allowed access to God’s throne as the accuser of the righteous, Satan no longer has any authority. This verse in Revelation 12 shows that during the still future Tribulation Period, Satan will lose any access to heaven and be remanded to earth, where he will take control of the world system. At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Satan will be imprisoned and ultimately cast with the rebellious angels and unbelieving humans into the lake of fire for eternal punishment.
Jesus Gave His Disciples Authority Over the Enemy’s Power. In John 12:31, when Jesus told His disciples that Satan, the present ruler of this world will be cast out; He referred to the triumph of His cross. Jesus’ death on the cross would appear to be a horrible defeat in the eyes of the unbelieving world, but in reality it was a great victory.
Through His death, Jesus rendered powerless him, that is Satan, who had the power of death, and in so doing He set free those who through fear of death were subject to sin’s slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14) Back in Luke 10:19, Jesus declared that He had given His disciples, those who had been born again, authority over “all the power of the enemy.” In the face of Satan and his demons, true believers are invincible. We are already conquerors through Jesus.
JESUS IS SUPERIOR IN PROVIDING SALVATION. Luke 10:20
Your Names Are Recorded In Heaven. Believers in Jesus Christ have been given authority over the forces of evil and darkness. That is amazing! What is it like to have such authority? Since, because of this pandemic, there are no major league baseball games, I have watched a few games played previously. One I watched was an American League Championship game from 2015 between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals. Watching a baseball game is much different when you know what the outcome will be. When you do not know who will win, you can experience a wide range of emotions, but when you know you’re team will be victorious, you can watch the game with joy. It didn’t matter that the Blue Jays were leading in the early innings. I knew the Royals would win. And, they did! Again! Because of the total and comprehensive authority of Jesus Christ, believers in Christ already know that He is victorious and that their eternal salvation is secure.
Jesus told His disciples that while He had given them this great authority, and they already knew they were champions in Christ, that was a great thing. What was even more spectacular was that their names were recorded in heaven.
God’s Book of Life. That God keeps a record of names is a fact often repeated in the Bible. That book is known as the “Book of Life.” I am sure that you remember that in Exodus 32, as Moses was up on the mountain receiving God’s law, the people of Israel were down below making a golden calf to worship, thus violating God’s first commandment. God sent Moses back down the mountain and when he saw what was happening he destroyed the stone tablets of God’s law. Moses interceded before God on the peoples’ behalf saying, “If You will, forgive their sin–and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written.” Moses knew his name was written down in God’s book.
In Psalm 69:28, David called this book, “the Book of Life,” and that those who refused to repent from their sin would have their names blotted out of that Book. Daniel mentions that “everyone who is found written in the Book will be rescued.” (Daniel 12:1) The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:3 that the names of redeemed are in the book of life. If the final judgment of Revelation 20:15, we find that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” In the final verse of Revelation 21, we are told that only those whose names are written the Lamb’s book of life will be permitted into eternal life.
Salvation is the Cause of Our Greatest Joy. To have my name or your name recorded in heaven in the book of life means that we have received Jesus as Savior, that we have trusted in Him as our Savior, Master, and Lord; and that our sins have been completely forgiven and cleansed. It is for this reason, the fact we are saved by the Lord Jesus, that should cause us to rejoice. I suspect that it will be the main cause of our rejoicing throughout eternity to come.
JESUS IS SUPERIOR IN REVEALING THE FATHER. Luke 10:21-24
Revealed to Infants. This is one of the rare verses in the Bible that talks about Jesus rejoicing. Here He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit because of God the Father’s choice to reveal truth to those with child-like simplicity. As Lord of heaven and earth, God is sovereign over everything. This is a universal and absolute statement of God’s complete rule over everything. In this case, it is God’s sovereign choice to reveal truth to some and conceal truth from others.
The thing that is hidden and revealed in this context is the truth about salvation in Christ seen in the recording of the believers’ names in heaven. The truth about redemption is concealed from the “wise and intelligent.” The wise and intelligent are those who, in their own estimation, are wise enough to provide their own salvation. They have confidence in their own abilities and believe they have no need for Jesus Christ or His salvation. God withholds revelation from them because of their spiritual arrogance and conceit. The infants are those who recognize that they are “poor in spirit,” are convinced of their own spiritual unworthiness and of their desperate need for Jesus. To those with such a humble spirit, the Lord reveals His truth.
Jesus’ Unlimited Authority. Jesus announced that He had been given all authority; in fact; "all things have been handed over to Him by the Father." The Lord Jesus clearly sees Himself as absolutely equal to God the Father. Jesus has the same power and authority as the Father and, please notice, that Jesus’ authority is over all things. Jesus will repeat this in giving the Great Commission in Matthew 28, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” And, that is why “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
This verse shows that Jesus alone has the authority to reveal God the Father to people. Knowledge of the Son is tied to the Father and knowledge of the Father is placed in the hands of the Son and is given to the people to whom the wishes to reveal Him. Nobody can understand the Father or what He is about without listening to Jesus the Son of God. That only Jesus Christ can reveal the Father is also found in John 14:6, “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
This idea is repeated in Hebrews 1:1-2, “God after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, who He appointed hear of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
The Disciples Are Blessed. The disciples were privileged to see and understand the great truths that the Messiah had come, salvation from God had been revealed to them, that God’s promises had been fulfilled and the Lord Jesus had forgiven all their sins. Believers in Jesus Christ in our day are also blessed. We are privileged to have the completed revelation of the New Testament that shows us that the Lord Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God, the One Crucified, the Risen Redeemer, and the coming and glorified King of kings.
As Christians, we also have the great privilege of knowing that Jesus Christ, the superior One is in complete control of the global events that swirl around us. Men and women will undoubtedly do wonderful things, but all that happens draws us inexorably to the conclusion that has been planned by the Lord from the world’s foundation. To that end, the Lord strengthens, encourages, and empowers His people to live a faithful life.
If you have never received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, please call upon Him today. He alone can forgive your sins and save your soul.
Updated by Pastor Vernon Welkner, 5/17/2020