Luke 10:17-24. 1 Thess 1:4-5a.
It would have been very reassuring to hear, as a Thessalonian christian, that you were loved and chosen by God.What power in those words! New believers. New belief. Those who followed the “Way” were out of step with both Jews, Greeks and Romans. The Jews were hostile, and provoked local riots when Paul first visited, then followed him after he left, causing him to flee Berea. Preaching a King other than Caesar – was politically and religiously incorrect. Perhaps without a heritage of leadership, they were a minority. No safety of long held tradition. Possibly feeling insecure. Like us they were people with a need to feel both secure and significant.
Paul reassures them in both these areas. They are loved.They are chosen. By God. His activity. His accomplished will. Not some vague sensation derived from workplace success, the opinion of friends, your digestion or whether you slept particularly well. What strength is given when we trust in this, particularly if circumstances shout the opposite – ” I am loved and chosen by God.”
Hearing the gospel. Hearing, most likely Paul, talk about Jesus and His Kingdom. Good news. Words spoken. Not just words spoken – words that bring life to the dead. New life. Life energized with power, the Holy Spirit. Life from the spiritual realm. Eternal life – bursting into our experience. Not an intellectual opinion, an argument or agreement, but deep conviction; of mind,heart, soul, strength.
Hearing the gospel begins the spiritual life, the fresh start. That is how God works. Not primarily emotional highs, spiritual experiences, but hearing about Jesus.
Luke’s passage today, describes this process as Jesus sends out people to tell locals and strangers alike that the Kingdom is near and to heal. 72 ‘Others’. Nothing else particularly special about them. Yet, Satan is defeated, falling like lightning from heaven (v18), not only when healing occurs, but when King Jesus is announced. Hearing the gospel, people respond , and Satan is cast down. Far better, Jesus says, to be saved, with your name written in Heaven, than to have authority over spirits, which although amazing, would be a huge temptation to our pride.
The gospel being proclaimed brings Jesus great JOY, v21. He is full of joy as he sees what these guys are doing, and through their words God reveals himself to ‘little children’. He reveals the deep knowledge and love that has always existed between God the Father and the Son (v22). Speaking the gospel gave Jesus great joy. Think about that. Our attempts to be like Jesus are always imperfect, but our imperfect attempts to tell others of Him, always bring him joy. Many in the past, Kings and prophets, desired to see the salvation that we preach.
Why, then, do we keep it to ourselves? What are the things that will stop you, stop me, from speaking to others about Jesus today?