Looking back over 2023, I feel thankful, humbled and privileged. I have grown closer in my relationship with Jesus – and I’ve seen how He has worked in my life and through my life to do things, He wanted to do, some that have astonished me. I know I have made mistakes, many of them – and I know that I could do a whole lot better at some stuff – maybe a lot of stuff. But still, God has been good to me – so good to me – He has been close to me – and He has done things in me and through me – and that fills me with wonder and thanksgiving.
There was a time when some of the followers of Jesus experienced much the same thing. Jesus had sent them out to the towns and villages in the region. Telling them to travel light and accept and honour whatever hospitality they experienced He told them to:
“Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near to you now.” (Luke 10:9)
Jesus had effectively instructed them to go out and represent Him. And Jesus has been giving the same privilege to all His followers ever since. I’m grateful to be one of them. I truly hope you’ve experienced moments like that – maybe you’ve shared the Good News with someone – or spoken a word of truth in a time of need – maybe you’ve prayed alongside someone – or you’ve served someone in need and known that you’ve been Jesus to that person – or comforted someone when they needed a shoulder to cry on.
If any of this has been your experience – then you have reason to resonate with the response of those Jesus had commissioned and sent out in His Name. As they returned, this is what we read:
Then the seventy 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 give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:17 – 19)
It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus would choose to work through ordinary people like us and there is nothing quite like being involved – included – in God’s eternal work. But Jesus reminds us about what is best – what is the true reason for thanksgiving and rejoicing. He says:
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
The stuff we talked about before – the work God involves us in that counts for eternity – that’s work – we can participate in that. But what Jesus speaks about in verse 20 – that’s all Jesus. We don’t make any contribution to that other than “Yes Lord – I surrender – thank You!”
I like that reminder – maybe because it takes the pressure off a little – and maybe because it reminds me who gets all the glory – Jesus does – He deserves it. It is still great to participate in His wonderful work – but the best thing is to know that we belong to Him.