One of the greatest practical jokes ever played on me was when some friends actually hid my car from me while I was at work. As a teenage boy, my car was my ticket to freedom. It represented my passage from a child to a man! Besides, I looked really cool driving it around the mall parking lot with the windows down, hoping that pretty girl would notice!
I panicked! I looked everywhere while my friends pretended to help me look! Did someone steal it? Should I call the police? Thankfully, they didn’t make me wait long. They all enjoyed the trick, and, after a proper period of being angry and sulking, I forgave them (grudgingly). Of course, they all got a big laugh and really enjoyed those moments when they knew what I didn’t!
Isn’t it amazing how we feel when we know something someone else doesn’t? We feel special, empowered, and somehow more competent than those who don’t “know.”
In our Gospel Lesson today, the disciples not only know something others don’t, but they can also do something others can’t!
Look at Luke 6:17-19, 9:1-2, 10:16-22. Here the Lord Jesus is teaching a crowd of people and all of them want to touch Him because they hope to be healed because of the power He has shown in healing others. The Lord then empowers the disciples to do the same as He has done, and they go and heal the sick, and cast out demons, and basically multiply the ministry of the Lord because they are doing the same ministry He is doing.
At that time, a crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people came to Jesus from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal, and He said to them: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you: but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
The disciples are really excited. They are energized by both the honor of being like their Master AND they are also endangered by that very excitement. While Jesus joined them in rejoicing that their communion with Him and their obedience to His command made their ministries effective and life-changing for so many, He also corrected their lack of knowing something much more significant. You see the danger comes in noticing something smaller and missing something greater.
While it is wonderful that the demons had to obey the disciples, empowered as they were by the Lord, the real joy, the real source of power and self-worth lies in the connectedness of the disciples to God. If they miss that vital distinction, they risk the sin of self-righteousness and arrogant pride. Which, ultimately, will undo all the good work they had done! The real joy was having their names “written in heaven.” And that made all the temporary victories over the kingdom of darkness even more valuable!
Today, what is your source of self-worth? Where do you rejoice in your life? Is it your career? Your education? Your children? What about your relationship with God? Is this such a priority in your life that you draw the healthiest self-worth from that vital connection? Your relationship with God is the source of joy that will heal every one of your other relationships and keep your perspective focused on the healthiest direction for your life. Hidden things might be fun but the best things were meant to be revealed and given to everyone! That’s how to be Orthodox on Purpose!