Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rejoice! Your Names are Written in Heaven! (Luke 10:13-24, Isaiah 14:12-15)

I read an article this week about a missionary from Peru to India who oversees 3 pregnancy counseling centers. She was horrified that the number of girls aborted in India each day is equivalent to the population of Hoboken, New Jersey, so she decided to do something about it. She starts her counseling sessions by asking groups of young ladies, “What is the best gift you ever received?” Then she gets them to think about the gift of life as being the best gift. Physical life is certainly one of the best gifts, but even it comes to an end. In our physical life, we have opportunity to receive a more abundant, eternal life through Jesus Christ. This is the best gift. Our passage this morning begins before the 70/72 are sent out. Jesus pronounces woes upon 3 cities, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, because they largely rejected the eternal life offered to them. The people of these cities for the most part refused to repent and to believe in Jesus. Now we have stories of works Jesus did in Bethsaida (feeding the 5000 and healing a blind man) and Capernaum (healing the centurion’s servant, the coin in the fish’s mouth, healing a demon possessed man and the paralyzed man, etc), but we don’t have any recorded stories of what Jesus did in Chorazin, yet He must have done many great things there. These people missed out on the best gift of eternal life because they would not believe. Jesus goes on to say that if He had done these works in Tyre & Sidon, which were Phonecian merchant cities, not Jewish cities, that those people would have believed. But Jesus did not go to the Phonecians, though Paul and others would evangelize there later. In His naming of these Phonecian cities, however, Jesus shows His compassion and mercy toward the Gentiles. To whom much is given, much is required. The cities on whom Jesus pronounces woe had received much from God but refused to repent. Eternal life a wonderful gift, and without it is deepest sorrow and destruction. Sometimes we forget what a wonderful gift we’ve been given and instead, allow our happiness and joy to depend on other people’s acceptance of us. But it’s never supposed to be about us when it comes to serving Jesus. Jesus says that if we are accepted, it is really He who is being accepted, and if we are rejected, it is really Jesus who is being rejected. It is all about Jesus. When the 70 return, they return with joy. They were telling Jesus how even the demons obeyed them. Jesus says something interesting, “I was seeing Satan fall like lightning.” This phrase has multiple meanings. First of all, it is true. Jesus saw repeated victory over evil. Satan’s earthly power was being taken away with the advancement of the kingdom of God. This phrase also stands as a warning against pride. Pride is what caused Satan to fall in the first place. Most scholars think that Isaiah 14 describes the fall of Satan. Listen to this passage…Isaiah 14:12-15. In referring to the fall of Satan, Jesus is warning the disciples, and us, against the sin of pride. We must not take credit for the works done through us, but give God His rightful glory. Someone compared the authority we have like that of a 5’5”, 150lb policeman who stands in the road with his hand in front of him and using the authority of the law causes a fully loaded 18 wheeler to come to a complete stop. The policeman has no power of his own, but it is the law behind him that gives him the authority to stop traffic and write tickets! We have no power on our own, but we have the authority of Jesus’ name to overcome all the power of the Enemy! God doesn’t bless us for our sake but for His sake. The authority that Jesus gives us is to be used to glorify Jesus’s name. Jesus has conquered evil and given us power over it. He says that He has given us “authority over snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy” and that nothing can harm us. Snakes and scorpions are often used as metaphors for demons and evil. We literally see protection from deadly snakes when Paul was bitten by a pit viper and suffered no ill effects. Now this doesn’t mean we should go around snake handling, but as Penny is fond of saying, “We are immortal until God calls us home.” We also have no reason to fear Satan and evil. Jesus has conquered them, and we are conquerors in Christ. We really can’t say, “The devil made me do it.” We sin because draw away by our own lusts. We also have authority over evil done to us. The power of forgiveness sets us free from those who would imprison us. But our ability to conquer evil & demons isn’t the reason that Jesus says we ought to be rejoicing. Our salvation is our real reason to rejoice. We are to rejoice that our names are written in heaven. Our joy is found not in what we’ve done for God, but in what God has done for us. When we focus our lives in this way, we will always have reason to rejoice. Our joy can never run out because God has indeed done great things for us! We have been saved from wrath through Jesus. We have been forgiven. We have been given mercy, and we are deeply loved! We have become joint heirs with Christ, and we have direct access to the Father. We have eternal life! If we lose everything, our names are still written in heaven, and that is reason to always rejoice! The disciples were rejoicing in their success, but Jesus exulted in the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit who accomplished the work. The triune God is always to receive the glory. In His prayer, Jesus thanks the Father. Our authority comes from Jesus, and the Holy Spirit works in the lives of the people with whom we share Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one who grants wisdom through revelation of truth in our lives and the lives of all who hear the gospel. Thanksgiving is a key component of worship. There is also a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. Many people know many things about Jesus. They may even admire Him without knowing Him. No one knows the Son except the Father and those to whom the Father reveals the Son. The prophets and kings looked forward to the day of Jesus, but these disciples witnessed it. They saw the fulfillment of the prophecies. We too understand things that “angels long to look into,” by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. We too live in the advancing kingdom. Joy itself is a sign of the active reign of God in a person’s life. What brings you joy? What causes you to rejoice? Do you know that your name is written in heaven? Maybe you lack joy because you don’t really know that your name is written in heaven. John wrote in his gospel 20:31, “These are written to you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you have may life in His name.” And in I John 5:13, he wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.” We can know our names are written in heaven. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, our names are written in heaven. The only way we can believe is because the Father has revealed the Son to us. If you are not sure you believe, ask the Father to reveal the Son to you. If you believe, then rejoice: your name is written in heaven. Do not let anything or anyone take away the joy of your salvation


Blogger Pastor Parato said...

sorry the recorded version got erased!

March 12, 2013 at 4:53 AM


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