“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:17-20
In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 disciples to minister. Jesus enables them to work miracles healing the sick and driving out demons as they proclaim the kingdom of God. When they return from being out in the field they joyfully report to Jesus that “even the demons submit to us in your name.”
Jesus’s response is interesting. He affirms that He has given them authority and power in His name, but he redirects the focus of their joy to that which is greater. He tells them that instead of rejoicing “that the spirits submit to you” they should “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
While the miracles that they were able to see and perform by the authority of Jesus’s name were great, the far greater miracle is salvation. If we think that healing or miraculous provision or even deliverance from demonic oppression is greater, we do not truly understand how miraculous salvation is or we have lost sight of its magnitude. Physical healing is a wonderful blessing. God’s provision in times of need is an amazing miracle. Deliverance and protection from the enemy glorifies God greatly.
But those things pale in comparison to the miracle that occurred when God became man and defeated sin and death through the cross and empty tomb. Those miracles are not as worthy of our rejoicing as the miracle that occurs when a spiritually dead enemy of God is made alive and justified before a holy God through the power of the gospel. When those who were once separated from God are made children of God and co-heirs with Christ, able to boldly approach the throne of God having been made perfect through Christ.
How can we compare a miracle with earthly results such as healing, which has value during a person’s lifetime, to the miracle of salvation that changes a person’s eternal destiny from hell to the promise of an eternal home in the presence of God forever? Where there is no more need for healing because everything broken is fixed and in fact it is more than fixed, it is glorified and better than ever before. Where,
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” – Rev. 21:4-5a
Don’t get me wrong. God still works all sorts of other miracles outside of salvation–which it should be noted has present earthly results as well as future heavenly ramifications. Jesus performed tons of miracles throughout His ministry that were of a “temporary” nature and that pointed towards the complete healing and restoration that is to come. God cares about the here-and-now as well as our ultimate future. We should not minimize one aspect to affirm another, but we should also recognize that our greatest source of rejoicing should always come from our relationship with God that comes through the gospel.
“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”