Introduction (Verses 1-16) – What gets you excited? For me, the number one thing is probably traveling. I love taking trips and seeing new places. But I had an uncle who never went much of anywhere and didn’t have a desire to. He liked to sit on the porch swing. About once a month, my family would collect all our old magazines and take them over to him—and that’s what kept him excited. He loved to sit on his porch and read. I had a friend who was at Green Hills Mall this week. He was amazed to see a long line of people stretching through the mall—people waiting hours to get the new iPad that was just released. That’s what they were excited about. We need to stay enthusiastic about life. But trips, magazines, and iPads only provide temporary excitement. We need something deeper to give us abiding excitement—something we’ll still be excited about when we can no longer travel, read magazines, or keep up with the newest technological tools. That’s the subject of Luke 10—the secret of abiding, perennial, perpetual excitement.
Verse 1: Jesus sent out 72 on a preaching mission. In chapter 9, He had sent out the 12 disciples. Now He took this to the next stage. Notice the number 72 is divisible by 12. It’s likely He gave each disciple a six-man team. Our Lord was developing and training the leaders of the early church to carry on in His absence. He didn’t do all the ministry Himself; He recruited and delegated and organized and trained others to do it, and He was quite systematic about it. He said, “Watch Me do it. Now you do it. Now recruit some people and train them to do it.” Each of these 12 teams six divided into three units, so they went out two-by-two. The Lord ran an organized operation.
Notice also that Jesus likes sending people two-by-two. Ecclesiastes 4 says that two are better than one. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch to send out Paul and Barabbas. When that team split up, each one took another man with him (Paul and Silas; Barabbas and Mark). In Revelation 11, we’re told of two witnesses who will minister side-by-side in Jerusalem during Tribulation days. And so Jesus send out these 72 men, 12 teams of six each, and each team divided up into two-man missions who went out and tried their hand at ministry. Now when they returned, Jesus gave them two reasons to get excited and to stay that way.
1. Be Excited That Your Name is Written in Heaven (Verses 17-20)
V. 17: The 72 came back tremendously excited. “Lord,” they exclaimed, “we’ve had great success. Even the demons are subject to us.” Now, it’s great to have success in ministry. It’s wonderful when the church grows and things are going well and people are being saved and marriages are being healed and widows and orphans are being cared for. It’s wonderful to be able to see visible results from a ministry. But there’s a “but” coming.
V. 18-19: Jesus acknowledged the success of their work. He said that he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I think that was a figure of speech, just like we might say, “He got punched in the gut. He got kicked in the shins.”
V. 20: “Nevertheless,” Jesus said, “do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” I think this is an exceptional verse about church work and ministry. If we base our morale on our results, we’re going to be on a roller coaster. But if we base our morale on our relationship with the Lord Jesus, it makes all the difference. Rather than getting too excited about a good day or too depressed about a bad one, we just say, “Lord, I’m Your child. I can spend time with You today. I have a relationship with You. My name is written on the Lamb’s Book of Life. I have all of heaven and all of eternity, and that’s what I’m going to be excited about.”
2. Be Excited that God’s Word is Written on Your Heart (Verses 21-42)
But now, look at verse 21. Jesus gets excited about something. He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I think You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.” He told the apostles, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” And the chapter ends with that wonderfully instructive story of Mary and Martha, when Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching” (v. 40). I was taught in hermeneutics that in understanding the Bible, we have to apply the laws of interpretation and study this Book as we would study any other book. But we also have to apply the laws of the Spirit, and approach this book with a childhood simplicity. We should be excited to sit at our Lord’s feet everyday as we study His word with childlike hearts.
Mrs. Ruth Overholtzer, whose husband, Rev. J. Irvin Overholtzer, founded Child Evangelist Fellowship, once told of how she developed many of the early CEF lessons that were later taught to children around the world. During a period of illness as she lay in bed, she pondered some of the great doctrines of the Bible that had proved an incessant comfort to her heart. A series of ideas tumbled through her mind like acrobats, and she visualized how these doctrines could be presented to children in Good News Clubs. Yet her illness was such that she thought she was going to die. In her confusion, she reached for the Bible on her nightstand and leafed through its pages. Coming to the book of Judges, her eyes fell on the words spoken by Manoah’s wife: “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not…have shown us all these things…” (Judges 13:23).
Encouraged by that verse, Ruth recovered and started writing lessons for children. “I spent the next fifteen years,” she later said, “working out series of lessons which had been given to me in embryonic form that night in San Antonio.” She just had an abiding love for the Word of God, and the Lord used it to speak to her and then through her. There are a lot of things to be excited about. But Jesus told us to rejoice that our names are in heaven; and Jesus Himself rejoiced that God reveals His truth to His faithful, childlike servants. When all our other excitements have come and gone, we will never lose the joy of knowing that our names are written in heaven and that God’s Word is written on our hearts.
 Ruth Overholtzer, From Then Till Now (Warrenton, MO: Child Evangelism Fellowship Press, 1990), 113-115.