The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" Jesus said, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. … I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants!" - Luke 10:17-19, 21 (NRSV)
My brain struggles with this passage:
First, did Jesus really see Satan falling like lightening from heaven?
Second, what was Satan doing in heaven in the first place?
Third, I'm all for having power over the enemy, but walking on snakes and scorpions is less appealing. Besides, I'm a Scorpio.
Fourth, Jesus infantilizes the disciples, excluding them from the company of the wise and intelligent. Is he looking down on regular folks?
And, yet, there's a lot to love about this passage:
First, while I've never body-slammed a demon (as far as I know), I'm grateful to be on Team Jesus.
Second, I like hearing that Satan and his henchmen will lose, because henchmen are everywhere these days, especially in seats of power.
Third, although I am over-educated, I am also a spiritual infant who has a lot to learn.
Fourth, regardless of the above, we have authority over evil, not as individuals, but as a community. Jesus sent the seventy out two by two, not one by one. That makes friendship the greatest superpower in the universe.
At the end of the day, and of this devotion, scripture doesn't need my approval, belief or comprehension. It only asks me to call out evil and join God's project to mend creation. And to not go it alone.
God, I wouldn't mind having the sort of faith and authority that makes demons cower, but first and foremost, help me to remember that the most potent spiritual weapon is companionship.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series publishe by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince available now.