John Kennedy once said “It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” The context of his statement was in the heart of the “Cold War” between the United States and the Soviet Union, but the sentiment actually applies very well to the spiritual warfare we are all called to fight internally to have Christ formed in us!
Look at our lesson today from Luke 6:17-19, 9:1-2, 10:16-21:
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.
Jesus is continuing His ministry of showing humanity that God loves them and wants them well. And He does this by healing their physical diseases so that they can hear His message of an Eternal Healing of their whole selves!
Then He empowers His disciples to do the same thing; to heal and to cast out demons and to preach the Kingdom of God. And you know what, they do it! They have the power of Christ in them and they go out and heal and cast out the devil and preach the Good News.
As you might imagine, they are pretty excited about this! And they come back to the Lord and tell Him that “even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Then Jesus says something truly amazing! He tells His disciples “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Of course the Lord was there when Lucifer, “the star of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12) fell from his lofty place after rebelling against the Trinity. Jesus saw Lucifer become Satan. But when His disciples came back and told Him of their victory over the demons, Jesus witnessed the impotence and defeat of Satan all over again!
Of course, that is the ultimate destiny of evil. Evil is not eternal. Evil, sickness, death, hatred, war, strife, bitterness, all of these are all temporary and all are defeated by Jesus Christ! But that Good News has to overcome the delusion that all of these failures of humanity are truly temporary. We look at these horrors and foolishly believe that cannot be defeated. But then we have to remember that the “kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
This Good News of the defeat of the evil one and the power of Christ to truly set us free will mean a war within each of us that has to be fought with the power of Christ within us. We have to struggle with the delusions inside of us that we can’t beat this or that bad habit; we can’t overcome our jealousy or envy or anger or hatred. These delusions are not true. But they are fighting against our true selves. So, we have to fight back with reality: Jesus Christ saw Satan fall. And so he has, he does, and ultimately, he will fall.
Today, are you fighting a hard battle? Welcome to the rest of the crowd. All of us are. But the Faith empowers us with the resurrected Life of Jesus Christ to always remind us that Jesus wins the victory and we struggle to join Him in that winning eternal peace! That’s why it’s worth it to be Orthodox on Purpose!