Reading: Luke 10.17-24
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.’
At 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. All 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.’
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For 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.’
Fifty years ago a young, innovative writing duo created a piece of musical theatre that was both controversial and ground-breaking. Fifty years ago Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Today’s reading opens with the feeling that that title, which caused a lot of offence five decades ago, is remarkably accurate. The seventy, who Jesus empowered to conquer evil, have returned. They exclaim in wonder: even the demons obey us!
Jesus had commissioned and sent out seventy faithful souls to further his mission. They had trusted Jesus and they had gone out to spread the good news, to share Christ’s peace, to heal and to prepare the people for Jesus himself coming amongst them. Because they had not behaved like those who consider themselves ‘worldly wise’, but rather had gone out in simple faith, they had seen great things happen. Is there any wonder that they returned with joy?
To help them gain some level of understanding of what they had experienced, Jesus gave them a small taste of the reality of who he really is. He had been there from the very beginning of all things, he had even seen the downfall of Satan. But, despite all these wonderful things that he had seen, he was warning them not to get caught up in the ‘glamour’, the Superstar-dom, of what they had experienced. The fight with evil is real and ongoing, and it needs faithful disciples if the battle is to be won. Furthermore, that humble, faithful discipleship will not go unrewarded.
Jesus came to earth so that we might know the power of God. He did not come with fanfares and armies. He came in humility to show us the path we need to follow if we are to come into the promised joy of an intimate relationship with God. It is our task to travel this world in faith and to shine with the radiant light that comes from Christ alone. We should never forget that all we achieve in this world is a gift from God and that, provided we do not let ourselves be distracted by worldly fame and glory, we will one day truly understand the joy of God’s generous love and grace.