This Wednesday, September 29, is the day set aside to commemorate Michael and All Angels.
I thought we might spend some time around the appointed gospel text which is Luke 10:17-20. In order to give it proper context I have included [Luke 10:1-16] as well.
May we all be comforted and blessed by the fact that our names are written in heaven.
[1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!' 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 "Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. 13 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. 16 "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."]
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" 18 He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
C.S. Lewis said in The Screwtape Letters that there are two mistakes that we can make in regards to demons. One is to pay too little attention to them and the other is to pay too much. They are equally delighted, he continues, with either error. May we get the balance right during this devotional reading and during our day serving out in the world today.
Jesus sends out seventy in pairs to serve as advance teams to prepare for his arrival and ministry. He assures them that they will be safe even though he is sending his sheep out among the wolves. They are to be agents of blessing and peace. The bring healing and herald the coming of the kingdom of God.
We are sent out into the world as well. We are called to prepare for his arrival when Jesus comes to the world in the second coming. We are also sent to be agents of blessing—blessing others as we ourselves have been blessed. We are sent to be messengers and heralds of peace with God. We are sent to be workers towards peace among people.
We engage those in the world sharing fellowship and food and space. We proclaim peace and work towards healing.
If we are rejected or scorned we can take comfort that our Lord was surely no less rejected and no less scorned.
We may find that we are able to tread on snakes and scorpions and other venomous spiritual manifestations. We may find we hold sway over the evil one. That may be but that isn’t the cause for our rejoicing. The demons have been defeated. They are in their last desperate moments. They are like cornered animals lashing out. The appointed epistle text for this day says this:
7 And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. 12 Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"
We may run into that woe to be had on the earth and the sea. It might be that we are overwhelmed in our mortal frames by the great wrath of the devil whose sands are quickly running through the hourglass.
The point is not how strong we are or how strong the demons are. The point is not how victorious we are in squaring off against the demons. The point isn’t even if we win or lose, live or die.
Jesus came and was victorious. Jesus won all by losing all on the cross. Jesus came to life after death that we might have life in the face of death. Paul says it this way in Romans 14:8-9:
If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Because of what Jesus has done our names are written in heaven. For that we rejoice. We know whose we are and where we are going. For that we rejoice. We don’t need to fear nor fixate on the demons. For that we rejoice. Jesus is Lord and we are His. For that we rejoice.
God, give us eyes and hearts and faiths to dwell in the spiritual realms. Help us cling to you and your saving work. Send us as agents of peace and healing and proclamation into a world that is war-torn and wounded and needed a saving word. Amen.