In an earlier part of Luke, Jesus sent out believers to heal, but they came back discouraged. This passage has a positive result and is likely less familiar. Maybe that is because we think of the disciples as clueless. They often don’t get what Jesus is about and are distracted by their own desire for greatness. But here they follow the directions to live simply and offer healing, and they report their success eagerly: “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
Jesus responds with an enigmatic statement about seeing Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Biblical commentaries offer varying theories. Some speculate that Jesus feels the power of the disciples’ work from a distance, and some suggest that Jesus is talking about a cosmic event that happened before Creation. Some hear the words of Jesus as commendation, while others think Jesus is warning the disciples against comparing their power to the immense power of God.
These are just hypotheses and not very satisfying ones at that. Maybe that is not a bad thing. We speak often of spiritual things as mystery. By the word mystery we don’t mean a riddle or an illusion or a cold case we have to solve. Mystery is a fount of meaning that offers truth and grace beyond our knowing.
Our best approach to mystery is grateful humility. We can’t know everything that Christ knew. We can't even understand everything he said. But we can know that Christ’s power is sufficient, and we live with a comfort that all the powers in the universe do not compare to the peace he sends us to share.
Write a brief progress update about the mission to which God has called you. What amazing spiritual revelations have you witnessed? What moments of healing and grace have you shared? What else would you like to explore?
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures describe what can happen when our own strength fails us. Naaman is a great military commander from Syria, but he has no power to heal himself. The psalmist, traditionally David, has become too comfortable in his prosperity. Both men must humble themselves before they can experience healing and restoration from God. How often do we let our pride stand in the way of our healing? Paul admonishes his readers to carry themselves with humility and to build up one another. What they do will always come back to them; what we sow, we reap. The story in Luke warns against being proud even of the gifts that God gives us. Our greatest joy is not that we can do things for God but that God has already accepted us.
Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. When have God’s instructions been more involved than you expected? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 30. How can you continue to praise God during dark, lonely, and hopeless times?
Read Galatians 6:1-16. When has your faith community struggled with members’ lack of humility? How did you resolve the situation so that you could welcome and nurture new Christians?
Read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. When have you misconstrued God’s accomplishments as your own successes? How did you refocus your life or ministry on serving God?
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