17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
So the seventy have gone out and after an unspecified time, have returned to Jesus. Their missions have been extremely successful and they are excited. Discipleship is a lot like the old concept of apprenticeship, where a novice would study how a master craftsman would work and then would gradually be given more responsibility until he was crafting his own works.
Here, the seventy who have followed Jesus have gone out and imitated His works, by healing the sick and casting out demons. And they’re excited by this, so they return to Jesus and report that the demons were subject to their command to leave in the name of Jesus. Recall in the last chapter how the nine disciples failed to exorcise a demon, and you might get a sense as to why they’re so excited.
Jesus, still the Master, gives them a gentle correction and tells them that their power comes from Him and that He has restrained the enemy so that they would not and could not be hurt on their journey, and encourages them to focus not on demons, but on the Lord and His salvation.
21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 22 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
Of the apostles, the only ones that we can speculate had a more formal education were Matthew and later, St. Paul. The rest were laymen. They were ordinary people who had trades. They weren’t scribes or Pharisees or philosophers.
This isn’t to say that educated persons can’t believe and follow Jesus or that education is a negative. It’s not. It just so happened that when God wanted twelve men who could change the world, he chose normal people. Just as when Christ came, He was not born to royalty and not born into a palace. He was born a commoner in a stable.
And just as Jesus gave authority to His disciples, the Father has given authority to the Son.
And then He adds the curious statement that no one knows Him except the Father. That one couldn’t know God without some sort of revelation made sense, but the disciples had known Jesus for years now and understood part of His nature and character. But only the Father knows all of it. Thus there is always a certain mystery in following Christ and a journey of discovery, as you discover more of who Christ is and in turn, His nature reveals more to us about the nature of God.
23 Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, 24 for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.”
Jesus gives them something else to rejoice about other than commanding demons, and that is the fact that they alone, in all of history would see the revelation of God in person. Only they would see the life of Christ, the death, and the resurrection. The rest of humanity would be operating in the dark or on faith in their testimony.