As I said yesterday (in a rambling post that my friend, Evan Garner, made sense of in his post from yesterday), I love the story of Jesus sending out the seventy. I am particularly fond of the way the story ends. After what must have been weeks away, roaming the Palestinian countryside, sharing the Good News, and relying on the generosity of strangers for food and lodging, the seventy meet back up with Jesus “with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!'”
I love the excitement they have. They’ve seen amazing things happen. Heck, even demons submit to the name of Jesus! I imagine by now they’ve totally forgotten Jesus’ twice repeated message, “I’m going to be handed over, killed, and raised again.” Instead, the thoughts running through their heads are about restoration of the nation of Israel. The disciples often get accused of political wrangling, but here it seems that they are only thinking of the good which could come from a Jesus administration: restoration of Temple worship, renewal in the priestly orders, and getting out from under the tax happy thumb of Rome among them.
The seventy are thrilled as they return to Jesus, but Jesus has already set his face toward Jerusalem. He knows the cross is looming. He is keenly aware that the Kingdom of God isn’t about what we can do as individuals, but about the power of God’s Kingdom. “Rejoice instead that you are registered as citizens of heaven,” is the New Living Translation’ take on Luke 10:20. My paraphrase is “Rejoice that the Kingdom has come so close you can see it!” The Good News isn’t victory over what we’re against, but joy in the upbuilding of what we are for: justice, peace, love, renewal, and redemption.