The sending of the seventy-two throughout the land was to prepare the cities for the visit of Jesus. But preparing them was not just heralding Jesus. Their work was actually to get people used to the notion of Jesus by acting like Jesus. They preached the same message and did the same deeds, and wherever they went, the miracles characteristic of Jesus’ ministry were performed and lives were changed.
The statement of Jesus “I saw Satan like lightening fall from heaven” was Jesus’ way of saying Satan was being defeated.
But how was he being defeated?
Bu short-circuiting his influence in the lives of people and helping them turn from Satan’s ways and influence.
Yesterday (October 11, 2012), the media reported the continuing decline of Christianity. Protestants now comprise 48% of our country – the smallest number ever. Catholics 22%. But there is a significant and growing number who claim no religion at all – 20% of the adult population. Satan is not falling from heaven like lightning. He is winning. The problem is not that he has become stronger, nor that God’s power is weakened. The problem is workers in the field: not enough of them and those who are there have forgotten their mission. We continue to follow Jesus by being concerned for the physical welfare of others, but we are not following Him in the way of greatest importance: calling people to submit to the rule of God. Humanitarian efforts are characteristic of Christianity and no one does more of them or as well as those who claim Jesus as Lord. But our job is ultimately to call those we help to follow Jesus. When we fail to do that, with deliberation and purpose, Satan wins.
We shrink in cowardice from this task. It is not politically correct to tell people they must repent and submit to God’s rule, but that was the mission of the 72. It is our mission. Each of us. Until we do it, people won’t heed it, lives won’t be changed, Satan will do nothing but get stronger, and the blind among the people of God will continue to wonder “what happened?” We need to pray for more workers in God’s field, but we need to do as the 72 and pray for those workers while working ourselves.