We all like a good celebration – a reason to rejoice – especially when it is something to do with us that is being celebrated!
But from God’s perspective, the things that we sometimes celebrate are not the greatest things that we could celebrate. This is illustrated from an episode from the life of Christ.
Jesus had sent out seventy-two of his disciples, two-by-two, to preach the good news, and when they came back, they were over-joyed, excited because of the miracles that they had performed, and because, they said,
…even the demons obey us when we use your name! (Luke 10:17.)
I can really understand the disciples. I would probably have been on the same wavelength. How could you not be excited to wield supernatural power in healing the sick? Even the demons were obeying them! It is a general principle that everyone likes to be in charge, don’t they?
In Jesus’ response, he said to them something that seems a bit strange. He said,
…don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:20, NLT.)
This goes completely contrary to our natural instincts. It’s easy to rejoice when we win at something, and we exercise authority in life. It’s easy to rejoice when you can see the tangible results of your power in life. But it’s not so easy to rejoice when you can’t see the reason with your five senses.
Jesus is here emphasizing the priority of spiritual reality over the material. While some people will say that casting out evil spirits is spiritual, and it is to an extent, it is material inasmuch as it interacts with the material world. Jesus is saying that those realities that are purely spiritual represent the greatest truths.
Jesus is also emphasizing the Gospel over every other blessing. There are many blessings that God can provide, including answered prayers, healing the sick, and casting out demons. But the greatest blessing of all is the blessing of knowing that you have been saved.
This side of eternity, money, health, relationships and power can come and go. But as long as you trust in Jesus, salvation is forever. If you know that you are going to live forever, you can get through anything. You are ultimately going to overcome.
This doesn’t minimise the reality of how terrible pain, suffering, and mourning in this world are. However, what it does mean is that whether you are in a time of rejoicing or not, you will always have a reason to rejoice.
We all have things we value in our lives. It is important to know and take hold of the most important things of life. These shape our worldview, and the way we act and relate to all everyone around us.
Followers of Jesus often focus on different things. This partially accounts for the large number of different churches and denominations. Some focus more on ritual. Some focus on miraculous spiritual manifestations. Some focus on faithfulness and obedience to God. These are the things they rejoice in.
Jesus tells us what we should rejoice in above all: that our names are written in heaven. When your name is written in heaven, nothing that happens on earth can ever erase it. You have entrusted your life and your eternity to God in heaven and it can never be lost. You were saved the moment you believed and for as long as you believe.
What does all of this look like in real life? What could it look like for you?
We will all still be subject to the ups and downs of life, including its injustices, suffering and pain. However, if you are able to stop and take stock, you will realise that you always have a reason to rejoice. The reason will be because your name is registered in heaven, with all the privileges and blessings that comes with it..
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.