Blogger Note: The following is the transcript of the sermon preached on May 21, 2023 at Pioneer Bible Church. We set aside time to honor our high school seniors, and this was my charge to them.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
In just a few moments we will honor the Lord’s faithfulness in the lives of our graduating seniors.
Seniors, you have worked hard. You have put great effort into academics, sports, student council, and community service. From your perspective it has taken several lifetimes to get to this point. Your parents have blinked, and you are grown up.
While this message is not exclusively for you, it is especially for you as you close one chapter of your story and begin another chapter.
I pray that the truth I will share with you today will serve as a perspective-setter and a priority-director. I pray in times of success that this truth will put pride in its place and create humility in your heart. I also pray when life does not go as planned that this truth will provide an anchor of peace and joy that cannot be shaken.
Luke 10:20 is the resting place of this truth, but I want to be sure we see this in its context. So, let’s begin by reading Luke 10:1.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.
Jesus has sent seventy-two individuals out to prepare the way for His visits to these places. If we were able to read the entire section, we would see that Jesus gave these individuals authority to heal, to cast out demons, to pronounce peace, and to pronounce judgement.
They went out and completed the mission Jesus sent them to do. In Luke 10:17 this group returns.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
They came back excited. I do not notice any hints of pride in what they said. They were excited, and they were right to be excited. The demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. This was big! They had cast out demons in Jesus name. None of us have done that, but I am sure if we did that there would be excitement. Not only that but they gave proper credit to Jesus. They were not proud. They said that this was all done in Jesus’ name. It was because He had sent them out with His authority that they were able to fulfill this ministry.
Notice, Jesus’ response does not show any sign that He is upset with them. He does not rebuke them for their excitement. He affirms that what happened was big and worth being excited about. Read Luke 10:18-19.
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
This is not a rebuke from Jesus. It is Jesus rejoicing with them. In my words, Jesus said, “I saw Satan run with his tail tucked between his legs.” This time of ministry was a defeat for Satan, and it showed Jesus’ ultimate victory over Satan and his demons. Jesus had given these disciples the authority to trample the devil and his forces. The good news is that nothing can bring ultimate harm to the children of God.
However, Jesus also gives a word to these disciples about proper priorities and correct perspective. These are big victories to be sure, but there is something bigger and better. Please read Luke 10:20.
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus agreed with the disciples that their accomplishments in His name were a big deal. Nevertheless, Jesus told them not to rejoice in those things, as big as they were. Instead, they were to rejoice in the truth that their names are written in heaven. In other words, they were to rejoice that they had eternal life.
Graduating Seniors, you have accomplished a lot. You have reason to be excited and to celebrate. However, as you celebrate your accomplishments, please do not forget that the greatest thing that has ever happened to you or ever will happen to you, was not a personal accomplishment but a gift.
No matter your academic achievements, your athletic accomplishments, or your career advancement none of it will compare to the reality that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. None of your accomplishments will ever equal Jesus’ accomplishment for you when He died for your sins and rose again.
As you walk this Friday and celebrate next weekend, enjoy your time, but do not ultimately rejoice in those things. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven.
You are about to start a new chapter that will pass like a blur. College will likely be a fun part of your journey. However, do not rejoice in your popularity, your scholarships, your grades, or your job placement. Rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.
Let’s take this and flip it on its head. What if life does not turn out so exciting? What if you try your hardest but lose your scholarships? What if you can never compete in sports again? What if you do not find a career in your field of study like you hoped? What if you can never find a decent paying job? What if you do not get married and have children as you hope? What if you discover you have stage four cancer, and your life will be cut short? These things happen to people all the time in a sin-cursed world.
Do not despair over these lost dreams, failures, or tragedies. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. No matter how terrible the difficult things are, they can never remove your name from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
May this truth guide you in your priorities and decisions. May this truth humble you in accomplishments. May it comfort you at the other end of your life when you are faced with death.
One of these days, unless Jesus comes back first, you will come to the end of your life. I pray you have many fruitful years in Jesus’ service before then, but one day you will have more years and events behind you than in front of you. One of these days, you will be faced with your own mortality.
The money that you earned will either be gone or divided amongst others. Diplomas will stain with age. Careers will be outdated and forgotten. Athletic ability will fade. Friends will come and go. At the end, when you are faced with the brevity of life on earth, I pray you will find comfort in these words: “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20b). There have been many saints who have found comfort in these words at the end of their lives. One famous pastor named Tim Keller entered Jesus’ presence last Friday, and a pastor friend of his said that he found great comfort in the words of Luke 10:20 at the end. May these words serve you well on that day and cause your heart to sing. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
On the journey between now and then, may these words of your Savior serve as your perspective-setters and priority-directors. Truly, nothing else compares with the truth that your names are written in heaven.
So, Graduating Seniors, do not rejoice in the accomplishments you achieve, but rejoice in the gift you have been given. Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. May this be the comforting and guiding truth of us all. Amen.