Summary: The disciples return from a mission and rejoice that the demons submitted ... implications for halloween etc.
“Even the demons….” A remedy for darkness
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 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. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10 17-20
We might approach our subject tonight with embarrassment. Even though our Gospels are full of incidents in which Jesus confronts evil spirits we feel just a little awkward about it.
Our modern society is strangely ambivalent about such things. One moment it denies that evil forces exist – and the next indulges in superstitions to ward off bad luck.
THE CONTEMPORARY SCENE (1)
For the disciples of Jesus there was no such ambivalence – First Century Jews and Christians faced the issue of evil spirits head on. And in our text this evening we are confronted with the DEFEAT OF SUCH DEMONS AS A SOURCE OF JOY!
THE CONTEMPORARY SCENE (2)
Our modern age has a very different view – it is by turns fascinated by the forces of evil – and then trivialises them. After all Halloween is just round the corner.
I don’t want to get things out of proportion this evening – but I recently had a conversation about Halloween with my neighbours who have two small children.
Last year at this time their lovely little girl came to my door and was turned away because we feel that Halloween is at the fringes of evil and we are trying to proclaim a world view that celebrates light and goodness rather than the dark and evil.
Later I called round with a gift. I don’t think the child would understand why we had said we didn’t encourage it. I care desperately about today’s society and its preoccupation with the dark - but I realised that a young child would think our attitude was rejecting them.
Thinking Christians do have a problem with Halloween – because it tends to trivialise evil. The fact that it is so commercialised these days simply makes that worse. So what should our reaction be? We need to keep a sense of proportion. Fiction has frightened us since our own childhood – and we still perversely get a kind of pleasure from scary films and books. That imagined fear is a necessary part of the process of growing up and coping will real fears. But still we need to sound a note of caution in a world where values have changed so much – and so many are beguiled by things that are truly dark and truly evil.
It would be satisfying to be able to report that at this season of the year – the fashion for celebrating the dark, evil side of human nature has diminished – and that all that remains is harmless fun. Sadly it is not so.
Despite our claims to have demythologised our modern society the dark side remains – and commercial interests have adopted it. Bat shapes and witches’ hats abound, and all manner of grotesque masks are evident. And beneath the black symbolism (which, we are assured, no-one takes seriously) the real darkness persists.
So this evening I turn to LUKE 10 and the claim of Jesus’ 72 disciples that “EVEN THE DEMONS SUBMIT TO US IN YOUR NAME…”
And in response I hear my Lord respond with His own view of triumph over Satan, and a salutary reminder that there is something else far more important to be celebrated.
But it is interesting to note that Christianity – and Biblical Christianity at that – has a completely different attitude to DEMONS and POWERS OF EVIL than any other religion.
They are dealt with factually and with restraint. There are no elaborate frightening descriptions of the evil spirits and their behaviour, neither are there any of the elaborate incantations and “prayers” that marked the religions of the time. The bottom line message is that Christ has overcome!
Modern man – as we saw in the rephrasing of Bunyan’s hymn – is embarrassed and also fascinated by such matters. No one sings that verse anymore:
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
The New Testament makes it plain that Christ has conquered the forces of Evil.
For a world racked with violence and sin, and for a generation afflicted by evil forces dressed up as “trick and treat” – the Bible offers this word from the Lord to His disciples:
EVEN THE DEMONS
Even the demons….
I saw Satan fall…