It was a one hundred percent success rate. Seventy-two followers had gone out at Christ’s instruction as ambassadors of the kingdom. All seventy-two returned telling Jesus they’d done the stuff they’d seen Him do – all of it! – and that demons submitted to them in His name.
All seventy-two of them. No spiritual gift inventory was administered to them before they were sent. There was no organizational analysis of their group. There was no extended time of training for ministry, save for what they’d experienced as they followed Jesus around, watching what he did and being immersed in His love for them. If anything, the instructions he gave them prior to unleashing them were pretty skimpy:
- Travel light; you don’t need your stuff
- Travel wisely; you lambs are going to encounter wolves on the roads
- Accept the hospitality offered you and bless your hosts with your ministry and presence
- Heal sick people and tell everyone the kingdom is near
- If you get kicked out of town, you have my permission to curse it. Your curse will bring judgement to that place
- I am giving you my authority. Go!
And they did. When they came back, Jesus told them He’d seen Satan fall like lightning as a result of their kingdom words and works. And He told them that this amazing empowerment wasn’t their primary cause for rejoicing, but that their names were written in heaven.
And then, these verbal fireworks, a celebration:
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure“ (Luke 10:21).
Stop for a moment and listen to the Trinity’s celebratory embrace of one another and of these seventy-two who’d lived their character and experienced heaven on earth in these words. There’s music and laughter and pure joy.
This obedience, this simplicity, this living the kingdom, this victory is what He wants from and for each one of us.