17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
21At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
23Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!24For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."
I have a confession to make.
No, not that kind.
The confession is this: this is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. Why it’s a favorite of mine may not be obvious. But you’ll see soon enough why it is and perhaps you too will make this passage one of your favorites.
We are told that the seventy returned with joy. The seventy (or seventy-two, in other old manuscripts) were followers of Jesus, outside the twelve. They were commissioned by Jesus (Luke 10:1ff.) to go from town to town, traveling in pairs, preaching, healing, and delivering in the name of Jesus.
The particular joy that was expressed in this occasion was the fact that demons submitted to them in Jesus' name. What is so joyous about that? you might ask. Well, never before did the demons submit to anyone, not in anyone's name. It was therefore a wondrous phenomenon for the returning seventy. In response to this joy, Jesus tells them that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. A picture of Satan's displacement from a place of great influence (heaven) to a place of lesser influence (falling). In essence, Jesus is saying, Satan has been overcome by Jesus' arrival. And although the submission of demons is an occasion of great joy, there is a greater joy still, Jesus insists, in knowing that their names are written in heaven. A way of saying that the greater joy is the joy of salvation.
It is the next sequence of verses that is particularly moving -- in Jesus' prayer and in His private disclosure to His disciples. What the seventy and the twelve have experienced is something that was "hidden" from the wise and the intelligent. Now it has been revealed. The revelation coming from the Son. Even prophets and kings of old wanted to see these things but they did not see them. But now these things are being revealed. A momentous occasion like none other.
In theology, there are many kinds of "mystery" (Jeremy, this is for you, as you study for your Midterm)
mysterium stricte dictum, i.e., "mystery strictly speaking" which refers to things undiscoverable by human reason alone but must be revealed by God.
mysterium logicum, i.e., "logical mystery" which refers to contradictions in theology.
mysterium salutis, i.e., "mystery of salvation" which refers to things that were hidden but now are being revealed for our salvation.
The prayer and blessing of Jesus is an instance of mysterium salutis. The revelation of the Son of God is The Great Disclosure of God's Salvation, which includes the "saving" from sickness and spiritual bondage. This revelation is what the blessed eyes are granted to see!
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the mystery of salvation that was revealed to the twelve and the seventy and to subsequent generations of believers. May this great salvation be a present fountain of joy for us. May we rejoice in the authority of Jesus' name. May we rejoice that demons submit to us in your name. May we rejoice more that our names are written in heaven. We confess that Satan has been dislodged from his place of great influence. Satan is now on the run. In Jesus' name, we come against the works of the Enemy who has been overcome by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May we stand firm in our salvation, on The Rock who is Christ. In Your Awesome Name, Amen.