Names Written in Heaven
Pray: Lord Jesus, I am grateful for Your life, example, instruction, and guidance. I wait on the Spirit's direction.
Read: Luke 10:1-20
Consider: “You must be prepared to be what you proclaim. Serve Christ simply and willingly” (New Zealand Anglican Prayer Book).
Think Further: As a prophet, Jeremiah was called to convey the mind of God to his people. The 72 appointed by Jesus in today’s reading are similarly called, in that they are being sent by Jesus to places “where he was about to go” (1). At the same time, they themselves represent the Kingdom of God in that, of those who encounter them, it is said: “the Kingdom of God has come near” (9,11). Followers of Jesus, as inheritors of the spirit of prophecy that imbued Jeremiah, still bear this dual function. Like John the Baptist, we point to Jesus; like those who minister to the hungry and thirsty, and the strangers among us, we do so for Jesus.
Like Jeremiah, too, the 72 must stay on message. The declaration of the Kingdom of God occurs whether they are accepted or rejected (9-12). This particular mission seems to have been an extremely positive experience. The euphoric report of the missioners is that “even the demons submit to us in your name” (17). There are times in our own proclamation of the Kingdom of God that are marked by success. For these we praise God.
In his enigmatic response to the 72, however, Jesus reminds them that there are more important things than key performance indicators. The demons submit because of Jesus’ triumph over evil (19), so the joy of their discipleship should rest more fundamentally in their belonging to Jesus (20). As it happens, Jeremiah’s mission created in him more angst than euphoria, but he learned well that belonging to God counted more than “success.” Like the 72 disciples, we have seasons of rejoicing in the Christian life; and like Jeremiah, we have moments of failure and struggle. In either case, the main thing is that our “names are written in heaven” (20).
Apply: Give thanks that we belong to Jesus, in good times and in bad, in success and in failure. Thank him, whatever your situation.
Closing Prayer: Lord, I want to live thoughtfully and thankfully. Enable me to learn the grace to be thankful in all situations, even if it's difficult to be thankful for all situations.
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