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ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THOSE WHO REJOICE: LUKE 10:18-24

Jesus Christ said to a group of his followers: 'rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'

They were elated because of the observable success of a mission undertaken in his name. While not denying this success, Jesus pointed out that it should not be the cause of their joy.

As we read further in this section of Luke's Gospel we understand that those whose names are written in heaven are those to whom Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has made God known.

His followers, at this point, did not fully realise who they were seeing when they saw Jesus; they did not fully understand what they were hearing when they heard Jesus.

Jesus pointed out to them that many prophets and kings had longed to catch just a glimpse of the things they were constantly seeing, and to hear just a sound of what they were constantly hearing.

In the coming of Jesus all that the prophets wrote of has come to pass; in the presence of Jesus Christ these followers are in the presence of the One whom all of the Old Testament had anticipated.

This is the focus of joy. This is the 'good news of great joy' of which the angel told the shepherds. This is the mystery of God, his plan and purpose from before the creation of the world: that he would come to us, that he would reveal himself to us. Living our life so that he could die our death.

Do not rejoice, he said, in what you have been able to do in my name. Rejoice, rather, that your names are written in heaven ' written in the Lamb's book of life, endorsed forever for life because you know me, whom to know is life eternal.

These words of Jesus call us away from all earth-bound sources of joy. Many of these earth-bound, earth-sourced joys are valid in themselves; but they have no permanence, they have no stability. They all pass, they all have the potential to fail. But this other joy, this joy that has its source and its focus in Jesus Christ, is joy that rides above the storms of life, and survives beyond the pains of death.

As Peter wrote: 'Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.'

Scriptures: Luke 10:18-24; 2:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 13:8; 20:12; 21:27; John 17:3; 1 Peter 1:8,9.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008