It was right after 9/11. Don Henley and Glenn Frey, of the Eagles, wrote a song titled “Hole in the World.” The lyrics to the chorus are listed there in your handout you have in front of you. And the chorus goes like this:
“There’s a hole in the world tonight. There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow. There’s a hole in the world tonight. Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”
There IS a hole in the world in which we live - in fact there are many holes - Holes of fear and sorrow. There’s Holes of unforgiveness - Holes of hatred - Holes of hunger – Holes of meaninglessness and lack of purpose. Holes of poverty - Holes of disease - Holes of spiritual darkness.
But the good news is that these holes can be filled – these holes can be repaired. The whole gospel - W-H-O-L-E - can fill; can repair the H-O-L-E-S in the world. It can happen.
But truth be told I’ve got to believe that I’m not too different from you in that when I look at the needs of the world I can’t tell you how many times when I see the evening news or I read something on the internet or I hear about something that’s happening around the world where I just shake my head and say, “I wonder if we can really make a difference? Is it really possible that the light of the gospel can overcome the incredible darkness that exists in this world, including right here in our own country in so many ways?”
I mean the needs are too great. The atrocities are just too horrendous. And the darkness in some parts of the world is just so thick and heavy. How can the light, even the light of the gospel possibly permeate it?
So you think about the starvation of thousands of people in Somalia. Or the incredible destitution and poverty in India. Or unspeakable acts of inhumanity of man to man in Uganda. Can we really make a difference? It is very very easy to get discouraged and to get dismayed over the possibility of making, really making a difference.
But this morning we’re going to be taking a look at a passage in God’s word that shows the followers of Jesus doing just that. Repairing the holes in the world – making a difference.
And I’m particularly excited about this passage that we’re looking at this morning because while I’ve read it many times over the years I felt like the Holy Spirit gave me some new insight into this passage that caused me to look at it in a way unlike anything like I’ve looked at it before.
You heard this passage read a moment ago from Luke 10. Now let me give you some context to this passage. Virtually everyone knows that Jesus had twelve disciples. But many are not aware of the fact that Jesus also had a wider circle of followers who formed a community of faithful disciples themselves. In today’s passage, Jesus sent seventy two of that wider circle on a short-term mission trip to be his ambassadors to the world, to be his light-bearers in dark places – and he sends them out if you will to repair the holes in the world.
We pick up the scene as they return to Jesus and as they report to Jesus him what had happened. There’s a couple of prime lessons here.
The first lesson is this.
You can defeat evil by repairing the holes.
So the 72 come back to Jesus. The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Now before this time the disciples of Jesus had by enlarge been an assorted and diverse gathering of spectators. Jesus was the prime mover. Jesus was the expert who performed the miracles and who did good works while they looked on. He was the worker – they were the watchers. But this assignment was different – Jesus sent out 72, 36 pairs of people with the purpose of them serving in the name of Jesus.
If you look back at the beginning of the chapter you see that Jesus sends them out and he speaks these familiar words: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”
Notice that there are two action steps here:
First of all Jesus told them to pray first.
Don’t you get bored hearing that? “Let’s move on to the really important things.” Jesus says “Pray first!” There’s no work that you are called to do or that you can do until you learn the value of praying first. Pray first and ask God to send out workers.
I have always loved that particular verse of scripture. I’ve appreciated the fact that Jesus doesn’t say, “Pray first and then send out the professionals.” Pray and ask God to send out those who are highly skilled or those who have the gift of speaking. Instead He calls them to send out workers – common laborers. People who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. I just love that.
And then secondly notice that after Jesus says, “Pray first.” Then Jesus chooses them to be the answers to their own prayers.
“Pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send out laborers.” And then you guys go out. Pair up with one another and go out two by two.
Let me ask you a question: When you pray to God asking Him to bring light to the darkness or to repair the holes in the world, are you ever willing to let God use you to be the answer to your own prayers?
Examples: Don and Donna
How cool is that! Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He will send forth laborers!
The disciples let God use them to be the answer to their own prayers for workers. Now I’m sure they were nervous. I’m sure they had some issues with that. After all Jesus told them He was sending them out like lambs among wolves – so it’s perfectly normal to be hesitant. Anytime you ask God to use you its normal to be nervous. But real faith always moves you outside your comfort zone.
Back to the story. The disciples had been gone for a few days. And now they return to Jesus and they are all pumped up. They tell Jesus that even the demons submitted to them when they were serving in the name of Jesus and in His authority. And they are so excited. And Jesus doesn’t squash their excitement or their enthusiasm. In fact Jesus shares that He saw what was going on as well and in fact He said, “You know you’re excited about what you saw happening but let me tell you something. There’s a whole lot more going on than you even realize.”
Jesus is like a field general perched on a hill and from this vantage point He sees the totality of the battle. And He sees the full impact of what’s going on.
The disciples saw and rejoiced at what they saw But Jesus says, “There’s so much more going on.”
Now I want to pay attention to this. This is so cool. This is where you can really get excited in the study of this portion of scripture. Jesus says to these excited 72 disciples let me give you three reasons why you can celebrate and be really excited.”
First of all Jesus said that, “Your actions, disciples, your actions dealt Satan a terrible blow.” The 72 acted in obedience, and Satan was dethroned, and quickly. And Jesus uses a very intriguing phrase to describe what he saw. Jesus says, “I was watching – watching, not watched –ed - “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening.” What does this mean?
Catch the context. Jesus is sending out these disciples two by two. They’re speaking and serving and working in the name of and in the authority of Jesus Christ. And as they serve, as they’re repairing holes in the world Satan is falling. As they’re helping the poor and needy. As they’re pushing back the darkness. As they repairing holes in the world Satan loses his grip and he takes a tumble.
Whenever the disciples were working a spiritual transformation took place. Everywhere the disciples preached, Jesus saw Satan falling - everywhere they healed, Jesus saw Satan falling - everywhere they cast out demons, Jesus saw Satan falling.
And the same thing happens today when we serve in the name of Jesus- even though we can’t see it. The disciples didn’t see it for crying out loud. But Satan falls like lightening from heaven whenever we put another’s needs in front of our own. Whenever we break systems of injustice Satan falls like lightening. Whenever we’re engaged in Grace Ministries or a mission trip, or whatever it might be and we serve and minister in the name of Jesus, Satan falls like lightening.
Satan falls like lightening whenever a Sunday school teacher steps up and ministers in the name of Jesus, whenever a volunteer is engaged with Backpack buddies. In dozens of different ways every day of the year, 24/7 as a result of your giving to the church and through our apportionments to the United Methodist Church, you don’t see it, you don’t know it but missionaries and others are serving in the name of Jesus all over this world, Satan falls like lightening. I wish I could get you a little more excited about that! That’s fabulous news.
If I could put it another way, when you serve in Jesus name – I don’t want to get any emails on this – it’s like you kick the devil in the butt. That’s what we’re reading here. Otherwise you read that and you say, “Why in the world is Jesus making this statement about Satan falling like lightening right in the context of the 72 coming back and rejoicing? What’s the connection?” There’s a huge connection there. I don’t want you to miss that. Our obedience to Jesus combined with God’s power knocks Satan down.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He says a second reason to celebrate is that when you act on behalf of Jesus He gives you authority. Verse 19: “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Folks this isn’t an invitation to do something stupid and literally go walking in a pit of snakes and scorpions as some cults in America do. It’s not a promise of protection from poisonous creatures. It is a promise of spiritual victory over Satan and the forces of evil.
And here’s why I say that. The first thing that Jesus says is basically, “Folks, I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got bad news for you. We have an enemy. He’s a serpent. He shows up in Genesis 3 like a serpent. In Revelation 12:9 he’s a serpent. In Revelation 22 he’s a serpent. The serpent typifies for us the great enemy of God, Satan. He is a spirit being. He’s a fallen angel. He’s an enemy of God. And sometimes I wonder if we believe that.
Do you believe there’s an enemy called Satan, the serpent, who is against God, who is against you, who is against the church and is at work in the world? If you don’t believe it, read your newspaper. Turn on the evening news. The bad news is that we have an enemy.
And the really bad news is he’s against you. He’s seeking your death your destruction your harm. He wants to fool you. He wants to deceive you. He wants to trick you. He wants to lead you astray. He wants to rob you of your joy.
But here’s the good news. Jesus is in authority over him. Jesus has defeated him. When God became man and the second member of the trinity came to earth and Jesus Christ, the Son of God while on earth utterly destroys and defeats and disarms Satan at the cross. And God dies in our place, for our sins canceling our debt, crushing the enemy. That’s good news folks! It’s good news.
And then Jesus gives us some really good news. If we’ve trusted Christ as our Savior Jesus delegates His authority to you. The victory of Christ belongs to the children of God. And we have authority over Satan in Jesus’ name.
And so again we see in this passage the 72 come back. They’re buzzing. They’re thrilled. They’re excited. They’re exercising authority over Satan and they are pumped up. Souls are being saved. People are healed. Darkness is being pushed back. They’re revved up.
Again bad news. We have an enemy. Really bad news – he’s against us. Good news – Jesus is in authority over him. Really good news – Jesus delegates his authority to us.
And then Jesus says, “I’ve got even better news than that – even more reason why you should be celebrating.” Now what could be better than that, Jesus?
Well we read it in verse 20. “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Now let me just ask you, when was the last time you rejoiced because you’re saved? When was the last time – maybe you came to Christ many years ago or maybe you are a brand new Christian– when was the last time that you just kind of sat and thought for a while about the fact that your sins have been forgiven. Your guilt has been wiped away. You’ve been given new life in Jesus. When was the last time that you just flat out rejoiced because your name is written down in heaven?
Many of you maybe you’ve never had your name on a good list. Think back to school years. Maybe you had your name on the blackboard all the time. It wasn’t a good list. Maybe you tried out for a sports team in high school and after the tryouts you go to see the names that are listed. And you want to know if your name’s on that list. And you don’t find your name there.
And so you say well then I’ll try out for drama. I’ll try out for the play. Did I make the list? Did I get the part? No I didn’t make that list either.
And so I’m going to apply to college and I don’t get into the college I want to go to. So I go there and I want to get into a particular department or into a fraternity. Is my name on that list? No my name’s not on that list either.
But there’s one list that your name’s on. Junk mail! Spam! How’d I get on that list? I don’t know! You never get on a good list.
But Jesus says, “You know what I’ll put you on my list. I’ll prepare a place for you. There’s a Father that loves you. There’s somebody that cares about you. I’ll put you on my list. And when you die and you stand before the Living God He’s going to look and say, “Oh hey look. Your name’s right here. Come on in.”
Finally. You say, “Yes! My name’s on a list!” It’s good news! Something to get excited about!
And so we rejoice because Jesus wins. And we rejoice because of His victory. And we rejoice because of His authority that He’s delegated to us. And we rejoice because our name is listed in heaven.
Jesus said, “That’s reason to rejoice. That’s something to celebrate about.”
When you repair holes in the world you defeat evil, you strike a blow against Satan and you set in motion incredible joy and celebration.
But furthermore – and this is the second big point…
You bring Jesus joy by repairing holes in the world.
Listen to verse 21. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit.” Why is that such a big deal? I’ll tell you why. This is the only place in the gospels where it talks about Jesus rejoicing greatly. And why is He so excited? What’s caused Jesus to rejoice so much? Well what grater joy is there than frustrating Satan – than kicking the devil in the butt? What greater joy is there than seeing the forgiveness of sins as people respond to the Savior? Jesus rejoiced. He’s excited. He’s happy. That means that Jesus is fired up.
Jesus rejoiced in what? The Holy Spirit. Not in circumstances. He was in the midst of some trying circumstances. He’s rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings joy to Him and the Holy Spirit wants to bring joy to you as well.
Jesus starts praying in verse 21: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”
Now Jesus isn’t saying that he’s glad that smart people can’t see God’s truth. He’s simply saying that this is so simple that everybody can get it.
Now there’s something else to catch here. Did you catch it? The whole Trinity is there. One God – three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and He prays to the Father full of praise and joy.
This is one of the high moments for Jesus. He’s seen His followers carry on His ministry and they did what Jesus did. And He’s seen common everyday people come to know God through Him. And Jesus connects the dots between his followers doing God’s work – that is, shining light in dark places and repairing holes in the world – and He connects that with people coming to know God through Christ. And the Scripture says, “Jesus is overwhelmed with deep feelings of joy!”
That is what He desires more than anything else. That is why He came among us. As the apostle Paul writes in Titus 2:14: “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
Are we totally committed to doing the deeds of Christ?
Let me close with this story. It’s a story by Dr. Timothy George and he says: When I was a student at Harvard Divinity School, I learned preaching from Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City. I remember him telling us a story from when he was preaching in Louisiana during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country, and he was out in a rural, black church that had just one little light bulb hanging down from the ceiling to light up the whole sanctuary. He was preaching away, and in the middle of his sermon, all of a sudden the electricity went out. The building went pitch black, and Dr. Taylor didn't know what to say. He stumbled around until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the church cried out, "Preach on, preacher! We can still see Jesus in the dark!" (PreachingToday.com)
Friends as we conclude this series this morning and our study this week let me remind you that people in this world can still see Jesus in the dark. How do they see Him? When you give yourself, when you give your time, when you give your energy, when you give your talent, when you give your money to meet the needs of another person, no matter who that person is, no matter where they live, no matter what the need the light of Jesus shines through you into the darkness and it helps to repair the hole in our world.
That’s what the disciples did so long ago. Jesus sent them out to repair the holes. And what does God expect of us? He expects us to go and do likewise. Now it’s your turn…It’s my turn.
We have a message to share with the world. And that message to the world is that “You have a Father who loves you. There is a God who cares about you and who cares about your needs – spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally. And we’re here as His hands and feet to try to communicate that message. I want the day to come when the world will hear that message from the hearts of the people of Sterling United Methodist Church.
Are you willing to give him what you have? - Are you ready to be a light in a dark place? Are you willing to repair the holes in the world? - What are you going to do?
“There’s a hole in the world tonight. There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow. There’s a hole in the world tonight. Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.”
Sermon Topics: Loving our neighbors