What makes us joyful? What really makes our joy come alive? These are crucial questions! Today’s reflection on Scripture shows us that misguided joy can be deceiving. We can often try to find our joy in good things, but Jesus shows us the ultimate source of joy.
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples ahead of Him to go heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. When they returned back to Him, Jesus had an important lesson for them to learn. The lesson is so timely for us as well! To set up Jesus’ teaching, let’s first look at the fruit of their mission. The disciples had experienced some fruitful ministry and they were excited about it!
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.’” (Luke 10:17-19)
Pretty awesome stuff! The seventy-two saw some fruitful ministry as they went out ahead of Jesus. They even had authority over demons! Jesus confirmed this by telling them that He could see Satan being defeated. Think about how much of a rush this must have been for the disciples! Luke tells us that they returned with joy, and rightfully so! Jesus wanted them to feel the joy of their victory, but He also wanted to use this opportunity to teach them a deeper truth.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
This is a verse that we cannot skip over or take lightly. This is a teaching lesson that we cannot ignore. “Yes, it is amazing that you are doing miraculous things in my name,” Jesus was telling them. Right in the middle of their celebration, however, Jesus throws them a big curveball with the word, nevertheless. “Nevertheless, don’t rejoice in your fruitful ministry. Don’t rejoice in your victory over spirits. Don’t rejoice in your current mountaintop moments. Instead, rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
We need to learn this! We have been saved, if we have placed our faith in Jesus. This, above anything else, according to Jesus, should be what makes our joy explode. Fruitful ministry and any other type of exciting circumstance can bring joy, but Jesus wants us to see the bigger picture. Who cares if you can cast out demons if your name isn’t written in heaven? Who cares if your life seems to be going well if your name isn’t written in heaven? Your name written in heaven is better than anything you do or experience on earth. Find your joy there!
Jesus was not saying that it is bad to rejoice and celebrate victories. It is not bad to find joy in mountaintop moments. I believe that it is important to continually look around and find joy in the common graces of life. However, the application is that our salvation is the best thing that has ever happened and could ever happen to us. When the mountaintop moment becomes a dark valley, our salvation will still be there. When our ministry efforts seem to bring no fruit, our salvation remains. Therefore, don’t rely on joy coming from circumstances. Instead, rejoice that your name is written in heaven!
- How does this change your perspective on your current circumstances?
- Does your salvation bring you more joy than anything else in your life? If not, why do you think that is?