When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to Him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use Your name!” “Yes,”He told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”Luke 10:17-20
Just like the return of the Twelve, the seventy or seventy-two report back and tell Jesus all that happened. We don’t know how long they were away nor where they caught up with Jesus again. But it is clear that they must have had a prearranged place to meet. Bear in mind there were 35 or 36 pairs of disciples who had gone out to a series of cities and towns. They all came together again and reported back. Hence my comment that they must have had a pre-arranged place and time. Otherwise they would have arrived back in dribs and drabs. Hard to have a fixed debrief time if they arrive back in a haphazard way. Some think the word returned [hupestrepsan] infers they came back to the place where they had left Jesus. Then while they were gone, Jesus took “the twelve” and went to other villages, and then returned to the place where the 72 disciples departed from. Others think Jesus continued on the route laid out in the map I gave you the other day (Gem 941). The disciples knew He would be somewhere along that route and so would have found Him easily enough. Yes, true, finding Him would not have been hard. Just note where the crowds were. The timing of when they were all back together again would have been more difficult than finding Him. Maybe He just waited until they were all back before having the debrief. I am not privy to that snippet of information. Luke didn’t tell us and Jesus certainly didn’t share any of the organizational details. You saw yesterday with the details of Korazin, that we don’t always know all the details of all that happened related to Jesus. Well, John did tell us:
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.John 21:25
This account is interesting in that we are told specifically that they gave an excited report of what happened. They were rejoicing at what they experienced. On this occasion Jesus gave them input. Seemingly, as I told you in Gem 899, Jesus gave no input to the 12, but rather turned and headed off. Knowing what was coming, it is like He waited until the full impact of what they experienced hit them. On this occasion however, He makes comment to bring their excitement into balance and to ensure they have the right perspective on what has happened.
It seems they did not experience too many negative experiences, or rejections if any. The likelihood had been talked about before they went. They returned jubilant at what they have seen with their own eyes. They have seen power encounters with their own eyes and seen how the demons were submissive at the mention of Christ’s name. This is a fascinating contrast to “the twelve”. In the sending of the 12 disciples, they were specifically told they were given power over demons, as well as preaching about the kingdom and healing the sick. It seems the preaching and the healing went well but they had problems with the demonic world, from what the father of the demon-possessed boy said. But in the case of the sending of the 72 disciples, they were told to heal the sick and preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. No mention of the demonic or of power encounters. Yet when they came back, they were rejoicing because it was clear to them that they had power over the demonic world as well, through the power of the Name of Jesus. Fascinating isn’t it. Told they had power, the 12 disciples struggled to cast out at least one demon, that we know of. Yet not told they had power over the demonic, the 72 came back with stories of power over the demon world. Is this a case of expectations and the pressure they bring, or what happened here?
I wonder if there is something in the statement “EVEN the demons obey us when we use Your name.” It is like they have not been told anything about their assignment related to the demonic. They would have known about the failure of the twelve related to driving demons out, I am sure. It is like they didn’t expect to be able to do that because the twelve had not been able to do it. But here they express surprise. I am sure it is not like they went looking for it either. Demons react to the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit in you. The presence of God causes the demons to react. When we begin operating in the Spirit, the evil world quakes and shakes in their shoes (assuming they wear shoes). I have had many experiences of encounters with the demonic in my lifetime as a Christian and it never ceases to amaze me, how easy it is when one is “in Christ”. I have seen first-hand how the Word of God will stir demons up to scream and protest, “Not the Sword, no, not the Sword.” Or to seek to snatch the Bible from my hands in a fit of violent rage. But when I keep reading, it is like they wilt at the power of the Word of God. Note, the seventy-two disciples were not commissioned to use the name of Jesus to drive out or subdue demons, but by virtue of relationship with Christ, they appropriated the authority and the end result delighted them.
I have an acquaintance who told me of his experience of going to a very difficult country as a missionary. When he arrived in the city where he was to stay, on one occasion he happened to go into a traditional house where something demonic was taking place. The shaman or conduit to the demon world was hovering suspended in the air and revolving. As my friend entered, the shaman announced for all to hear, “You are a follower of Jesus. You don’t belong here. Go or suffer the power that holds me up.” To which my friend replied, “In Jesus name I bind the power that holds you up.” And with that, the shaman came crashing down. Right there at that moment, by word and by deed, the coming of a more powerful Kingdom had been effectively announced.
Many of us have a tendency to sensationalize these power encounters, but they are really very matter of fact. It just is, because the One who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Jesus restores the balance to all of this talk of the demonic and power encounters when He said, “Don’t rejoice in your power over the demonic, rather rejoice that your names are registered in heaven.” Your names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Of far greater importance and of far greater worth is your salvation, bought with the most precious price of all. Rejoice that you have been purchased and are being made fit for heaven. Don’t rejoice that you have power over satan and his cohorts. That’s a given, when you are the Lord’s possession. Your power over the demons is by virtue of Whose you are. Rejoice in the relationship, don’t rejoice in the fringe benefits.
I love the reaction of Smith Wigglesworth:
When awakened from sleep in the middle of the night to an apparition of satan himself at the foot of his bed, he said, “Oh it’s only you”, and rolled over and went back to sleep.Smith Wigglesworth
Let’s get things in perspective people: Know Whose you are and therefore the fact that you have His authority, by virtue of being a son or daughter of the Most High God.Anon
I surrendered unto Him all there was of me; everything! Then for the first time I realized what it meant to have real power.Kathryn Kuhlman
Missionary interest is the discharge of a debt. We owe everyone the gospel.Anon