Thursday, October 16, 2008

St. Luke and the Seventy

This blog post was kindly contributed by Clark Wilson. Thanks, Clark! Read on.

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St. Luke 10:16-21
Gospel for the Feast of the Holy Evangelist Luke the Physician
Learning with the Seventy

From St. Luke 10:16-21, especially vs. 20:"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." The Seventy, among whom is numbered St. Luke the Evangelist, provide an intriguing "window" into the development of the Church; for they reveal that a very extensive "movement" grew up around the Lord Jesus during the three years He publicly taught, healed, and trained. The instructions He gave the Seventy and the prayers He offered for them teach every Christian how to become the kind of disciple worthy of being sent out "two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself [is] about to go" (Lk. 10:1).

Starting from the commissioning of the Seventy (see Lk. 10:1), the present reading discloses three essentials incumbent on all who profess Christ as Lord. To be growing followers of the Lord Jesus, you must listen to Him before all the other voices that clamor for your attention (Lk. 10:16), strive to form your actions and words under His authority (vss. 17-20), and acknowledge your dependence on God our Father for whatever wisdom and prudence you have (vss. 20-21). No less than the famous Seventy, you and I ought to admit that we are blessed to be counted among those who have "heard" Christ, know the "joy" of His service, and have adopted His "wisdom and prudence" as the foundation for our decisions and actions.

The Lord tells us exactly what He told the Seventy: anyone "who hears you hears Me" just as anyone who "rejects you rejects Me" (vs. 16). Who could possibly imagine that other people will hear what you and I have to say if we have not first "heard" the Lord ourselves! And notice:"hearing" the Lord is not simply allowing His words to enter your ears so that you recognize the source of the words as coming from Jesus Christ. The Lord uses the word "hear" with Biblical weight - it means obedience. To hear is to do as He says. "Hearing" is the opposite of "rejecting," which is why our Lord connects the two (vs. 16). Jesus our Lord, like an attentive father, knows when we hear Him, for He immediately sees His words turned into consonant actions in us. Likewise, it is when we obey Him that other people act on our "Christian talk."

The Seventy were thrilled that "even the demons [were] subject to [them] in [Jesus'] Name" (vs. 17). The Lord Jesus knows that Satan, the lord of the demons, is a broken and defeated spiritual power, with no ultimate effectiveness (vs. 18) - exactly as He teaches here. Beloved, we have authority "over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt" us (vs. 19); yet, as He says, this ought not to be the basis for rejoicing. Rather, such signs of victory should cause us to rejoice that our "names are written in heaven" (vs. 20).

Notice also: the Seventy never considered that they themselves cast out the demons. Not at all. They had the humility to realize that they cast out the demons only "in Jesus' Name" (vs. 17) - by His power. Seek help from the Lord Jesus so that your words and deeds will conform entirely to His will and purpose, and assure you that you are acting in His Name.

Jesus Christ our God prays the Father unceasingly for us as He did for the Seventy (Heb. 7:25; Lk. 10:21). As a result, our Father in Heaven extends His wisdom and prudence to us, but only as long as we hold on to the God-given awareness that we are mere spiritual babes, utter children dependent on our Heavenly Father for whatever wisdom and prudence He chooses to bestow on us. How else can we hope to obtain unearthly wisdom and divine prudence except we look to Him, seeking His light and guidance before making decisions or opening our mouths?

O Lord, pray to God our Father that the Holy Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in Thy light we may see light, and in Thy straight path may not stumble.

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