Tuesday, March 11, 2008

See Jesus and rejoice (part 3)

THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD: to have Jesus reveal the Father to you

V17. They come back from their evangelistic mission and report that it went well. In fact they exceeded their mandate and expectations. They were sent to preach and heal but they ended up casting out demons. V18. Jesus explains what happened. The gospel preached defeated Satan decisively. Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Which either means:

• Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven – and we do get something like that happening in the book of Revelation.
• Or, Jesus is saying he saw Satan fall. Falling the same way lightning does from heaven – i.e. decisively, instantly, completely.

Either way, Satan has been overthrown by the disciples preaching. V19. They in fact have ‘serpent-crusher’ authority with Jesus. Get the idea – Satan is beaten by the gospel. But, v20 – shock! Jesus says:
• Don’t rejoice in your exploits.
Not, don’t rejoice. But rather rejoice in something else.
V20. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven, not in what you’ve been doing.
My name is written in many places.
• It’s written on webpages.
• It’s written in the records offices that record my birth and my marriage.
But the most defining mark of who I am is of my name written in heaven – written in the presence of God. Written on the hands of Jesus.
• Not a reward for my deeds.
• Not in recognition of my performance.
Life is variable and brief but Jesus wants to secure our joy in something that lasts and does not waver.
• A river that wont run dry.
• A WIFI connection to joy that won’t waver or drop out. Unbreakable.
This is wonderfully warm gospel-centred pastoral care in the midst of a moment of great joy.
This is Jesus working for their progress and joy.

As Martyn Lloyd-Jones, probably the greatest preacher of the 20th Century was dying of Cancer someone asked him: How are you managing to bear up? You have been accustomed to preaching several times a week. You have begun important Christian enterprises; your influence has extended through tapes and books to five continents. And now you have been put on the shelf… how are you coping with the stress of being out of the swim of things?
[Sourced from For the Love of God, Don Carson]

Lloyd-Jones responded by quoting Luke 10v20. A truth no doubt learned in his more active days that sustained him into his last days. How kind of Jesus to speak into their celebrations and prepare them for harder days – days when they’ll be hauled before authorities and persecuted. In days of relative ease we need to get our joy rightly anchored. They needed to know then that the gospel-won writing of their names in heaven is an unwavering source of joy for God’s people! Taste the sweetness of this word. How precious is the prize won by Jesus’ death.

And then, v21 we find Jesus joyful too! Don’t ever think that joy is what is found outside of Christianity. Real joy is a Christian priviledge. V21. The Son has joy in the Holy Spirit as he prays to the Father.
• A glimpse of Trinitarian joy!
• See the pleasure of God in his gospel.

Our happy God who will, 15v10, dance in the presence of angels over those who turn to receive his peace. What makes the Son happy? His first joy, v21 is that the gospel is hidden from the wise and understanding. Jesus rejoices as his kingdom comes in judgement on some. Hard as it may be to believe in the atmosphere of 21st Century tolerance it is the pleasure of God to veil the gospel from some. Indeed, V22 no-one knows the Son except the Father. And, no-one knows the Father except the Son. The knowledge of God is not to be taken for granted.

Question: Who can know God? It’s a crisis point.

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