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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 10, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 10:16–20

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NRSV)

In the first twelve verses of Luke 10, Jesus sends thirty-five* pairs of followers into nearby towns and villages as a kind of advance crew. Off they go to announce peace in Jesus’ name. In verse 17 they come back deliriously stunned at what Jesus’ name on their lips enabled them to do (which I find funny, because there was nothing about tangling with demons in their charge. In any case . . . ).

Jesus greets their ecstasy bemused, like “Oh, I could show you some things.” But then he pivots away from the spectacle of demons and snakes and scorpions to focus their attention on what he really wants them to see, which is their identity. He tells them, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” They have a place in the “enduring realm of God” (John Carroll’s terrific phrase). He will go on to explain that they’ve seen things that not even prophets and kings have seen.

Jesus wants his followers focused on the main thing, and fireworks are not it. Neither are church buildings and budgets, wealth, health, or the perfect Instagram post (#blessed). The main thing is what God is doing in the word through this Jesus community, and that is nothing short of taking on the “power of the enemy.”

And who is this Jesus community? Galilean Jews, mostly. People who live off the land or out of the sea, mostly poor, certainly untrained in the exorcism arts. That’s helpful for us to remember when we find ourselves stuck on what we don’t know and what we don’t have, like God needs PhD’s in scorpion-walking. It’s so not about that (thanks be to GOD). What God needs us to do, God will enable us to do.

Yes, even us.

*or maybe 36

Praise be to you, O God, for you are defeating the enemy of death and despair even now, even here, even through us. As those called and enlisted by you, fill us with a joy for whatever work you call us to do, in the power of Jesus’ name. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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