When really looking forward to an event or overwhelmed by something good happening, I typically say something like, “This is awesome” or “I’m so excited about...” When I hear some of those in the generation behind me describe how excited that they are, they may say something like “I’m stoked” or “That is so cool!”
Regardless of the generation, words like “excited”, “stoked” or “awesome” all mean the same thing. It means we are pretty happy about something.
A couple thousand years ago, when seventy people came back to report to Jesus after their first mission trip to various cities, the Bible says that they returned with “joy.” They told Jesus, “even the demons are subject to us!” There is no doubt that you and I would have done the very same thing, but would have thrown in an “awesome”, “it was amazing!” or “it was so cool!” into our description.
I can imagine Jesus smiling widely with the 70 while hearing the stories and seeing their joy. Moments later it says that Jesus “rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit” about what His Father had revealed to them.
In the midst of the “joy” and rejoicing that the 70 were feeling, Jesus makes an interesting perspective adjustment. He says: “... do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Here are a couple of thoughts: One, is that the word “rejoice” or having “joy” in the New Testament is probably the equivalent to us in our culture of being “really excited”, “stoked” and feeling “awesome.”
Secondly, I don’t think this is a rebuke as much as it is a revealing of something more beautiful than they were currently seeing. Jesus is good with them being excited, but He wants them to have an elevated perspective. Jesus is saying that there is something more magnificent to celebrate than cockroaches being crushed under our feet. He is saying something like this to them: “Do you realize that God knows each of you personally and loves you so much that He has stopped heaven’s activity, walked over to the Book of Life, taken out His personal pen, and hand written your name in His favorite book. Do you realize that this means that thousands of years from now, when the Book of Life is opened and all are judged, it has already been determined where you will be and who you will be with for every age to come throughout eternity? You will be with Me and my Father forever!”
In other words, it’s great to have demons flee when you speak to them, but recognize that this is supposed to happen because you have solidified a place of honor in one book that determines the destiny of every person. You are already a Son, a Daughter, a loved and adopted heir of salvation! This is something worthy of a celebration party, something to wildly rejoice in!
How about you and I stop all our activities for 10 minutes today and ponder on the reality that our name is written in THE Book of Life also? Let’s imagine seeing our name written there and all of the implications associated with us being that special, that loved, that forgiven, that honored for eternity. Excited, thankful, awesome rejoicing is likely to erupt in our hearts if we see it.
- Matt Peterson