1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
When those sent out did what Jesus had asked them to do they found fulfillment, because joy is a product of obedience. We too can experience the fulfilling fruit of obedience, if we would be willing to walk in His Will. What amazes me is that this is not where the journey of joy ends, Jesus now responding to their excitement with a remarkable statement “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Why didn’t Jesus just celebrate with them, they had just won a great victory right? Why the need for further instruction on joy? Because Jesus wants us to have more than just the joy of the moment, the Lord wants you to experience lasting joy. Most of us are missing the joy that Jesus offers because we are chasing after the monumental yet momentary joy. When the servants told Jesus that even the demons submitted to them in His name He responded, “Yes, I know that, you see I watched it all happen, I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. I’m the One who gave you the authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy without being hurt. However, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” The servants come back hopped up happy, what some would call hallelujah happy! They were praising because of the power, they were worshiping because the devil got a whipping. We beat up on satan, we stuck it to him good, so how about that, Jesus?” To which Jesus responded “Uh huh, sure, that’s great and I’m already fully aware of that because I did it for you. But now I want you to learn that joy, wonderful, real, lasting joy, isn’t so much about the power it’s about the personal. Don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” You see joy doesn’t residence in big deals, it lives in the everyday relationship we have with the Redeemer. Wow what an amazing message for me and you. That we don’t need the big power plays to experience joy, we simply need His presence. But how many of us are rejoicing in our relationship with Him verses in His displays of power that bring us success. When we are tempted to rejoice only when His power conquers our problems instead of in His personal presence we become trapped in the prison of performance. The problem with success is that it’s addictive because the more of it you have the more of it you want. If your joy comes from amazing accomplishments then you will never be satisfied because you will spend your time trying to top the last achievement. You will end up seeking success instead of seeking the Savior. The pursuit of His power without the personal will poison. Sure I like it when the Lord moves in powerful ways but I have to be careful that I don’t base my joy solely on these moments and miss the miracle that the Messiah wants me. It’s easy to strive after the success, to crave and chase the feel good of conquest more than Christ. Jesus reminds us that joy comes from resting in our relationship not the results. If we are not careful we will end up striving for success simply for what we can get instead of for God. How about you are you running after the results more than the Redeemer? It is here that Jesus reminds us that the results are temporary but the relationship is eternal. You see it’s not just about the here and now but our eternal home in heaven. It’s not about finding our satisfaction in doing something spiritually spectacular but in what our Savior has done for us. It’s about knowing that our names are written in heaven and that He who has begun a good work within us will bring it to completion. It’s about recognizing that redemption means that nothing, neither life nor death, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. It’s about resting in the reality that we are His and He is ours, forever. Today instead of the focus being on our journey with Jesus many of us have become joy junkies. Instead of seeking the Savior we are searching for the next big thing, that next display of power to pump us up. Instead of coming to church in with a heart of worship focused in awe on the Almighty we come so others can whoop us up and create some kind of artificial excitement. We begin to place our hope in the hype and so we hop from place to place looking for the next big thing. Our contentment is no longer found in Christ and the finished work of the cross but in chasing the next craze. Success was not when they saw the demons submit but when they saw the security of their salvation. Now notice with me that after Jesus had instructed them about this deeper personal joy that the text turns away from their joy to His joy. Many who read this passage focus solely on the joy of the seventy and miss the joy of the Savior. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” What if the question is not our joy, but God’s joy? What if its not really about what can I do to be happy? But “What makes Him happy?” What saddens me today is that we seem to have reduced His holy word into some kind of self-help technique. Today we rejoice in what makes us feel good, when Jesus focused on the Father. Why do we sing and worship is it for our pleasure or His? Are we coming to give voice to His victory, to thank Him who is with us, in the good times and bad, in fair weather and in foul even through the day of our death? Are we serving Him to get joy or because the joy is already in us? Unfortunately many of us look at obedience from the perspective of self-benefit instead the Saviors pleasure. We see obedience from the selfish, I will experience success, instead as simply serving the Savior. Are you experiencing the deep satisfying joy of serving the Savior or seeking the shallow satisfaction found in monumental but momentary success?