It is an exciting story. Jesus has given power to seventy two and the flip a city upside down. The crowd is astonished. Jesus explains to his disciples that He saw satan fall like lightning.
What does this verse mean? We are going to explain what Luke 10:18 means in this blog post and take a deeper dive as to why this event may be a bit bigger than we could’ve even thought.
You will also learn what this event means for us today, what we gained form it, and how we can apply what Jesus taught to our lives every single day.
Luke, Paul’s missionary who was a Physician by trade, wrote the longest Gospel in the New Testament Canon. The Gospel describes Luke as a Syrian from Antioch, which means he probably wasn’t Jewish. The word Gospel, means “good news.” The label put on the first four books of the New Testament is good news. The words were good news to everyone who was hearing them.
Side note, let’s remember that when we represent God and His word. What we say should be good news to the people we are talking too.
The historical context of this book is fascinating. Thought to be written around the late fifties/early sixties AD and is addressed to Theophilus (Luke 1:3). The best way to date this book is to also look at the book of Acts, which is the second part of Luke.
Each of the Gospels were written to target a specific group of people. Luke’s Gospel was written to the Gentiles. A gentile is a “non-jewish” person or what the Bible would describe as a “backslidden or rebellious” Jewish person. Luke, being a Physician, would be the perfect person to try and reach these people with the “good news” of Jesus. Physician’s take very meticulous notes, and pay a lot of attention to detail.
Luke would’ve been the perfect person to answer the logistical questions of the unbelievers especially when dealing with verses that go beyond “logic” like Luke 10:18.
In order to understand the meaning of Luke 10:18, we need to start at the beginning of chapter 10 to paint the picture.
Chapter 10 starts with Jesus sending out seventy two people to go and teach the good news of the Gospel and then demonstrate the good news by healing them and casting out devils/demons.
The seventy two are appointed and handed over power to do the things Jesus is asking them to do. Jesus always equips you before He sends you.
Jesus then gives these men and women instruction to literally take nothing with them. I believe the reason He is doing this is because He is teaching them to rely only on Him. They don’t need sandals, money or even the distractions and temptations that come with having money. They will find out that they just needed Him and to be obedient to what he is asking of them and supernatural things will happen.
The one verse I want to highlight is Luke 10:9. In this verse Jesus is commanding them to heal the sick. So His expectation was that they were going to be healed. No doubt about it. Then, after they are healed and are astonished, tell them that the kingdom of God has near to you. I am not going to go to deep into this here, but I do need to explain this so we can truly understand the meaning of Luke 10:18 a bit better when we get to it later.
The kingdom of God or Heaven is a place where there is no pain, no tears, no sickness etc. It’s a place that’s literally perfect. It’s full of peace, love, joy and a place where sin can not exist.
A vessel is defined as something that is filled up, with the purpose to be poured out or a ship or carrier of things (we are vessels of good news.) What a beautiful image. God opening heaven and blessing us with things and then we pour those blessings on everyone else. Then…He does it again!
The reason why I am going on a rant about this is because this is what is described in verse 9. We are being filled up with the things from heaven, and we are pouring those things out on everyone around us.
In the beginning of chapter 10, Jesus appoints the seventy two. He fills them up with all the power of heaven to heal. As the seventy two vessels go through the town, they pour healing out (the kingdom of God) over the gentiles. Then they are to tell them that the reason why they are healed is because “the kingdom has come upon you”. Heaven just invaded earth through the seventy two.
Will heaven also invade earth today through you?
So we finally now arrive at the part of the story where we see the result of what Jesus is doing. In verse 17 the seventy two come back rejoicing, singing, dancing, a possible Michael Jackson moonwalk or two. They were PUMPED UP! Why you ask? It’s because they say “even the demons are subject to us IN Your Name!”
How awesome!!! The demons are subject to those IN HIM. The word subject is describing a position of power. To be subject to something is to be beneath someone or something. To be forced to be obedient to something that is above, higher, or more powerful than you.
The demons are only subject to those…IN HIM as the verse describes. Demons do not flee the flesh but the spirit of God that works inside of you.
Then in Luke 10:18 Jesus describes watching the seventy two do all of these things like this:
Luke 10:18- And He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
What could Jesus possibly be describing here in this verse? What does Luke 10:18 mean? We got you covered but it may be a bit different then you think. Again, to fully grasp this we have to define some things.
Satan, by definition in the Greek, literally means adversary, one who opposes another in person or in act.
An adversary doesn’t always have to be an enemy of of yours, but someone who just opposes you (intentionally or un-intentionally) towards something. This is the reason why Jesus calls Peter satan when Jesus says directly to him, “Satan, get behind me.” He doesn’t tell Peter, “you are acting like satan”, but specifically calls him satan and demands he get behind Jesus.
What did Peter do to be called satan? Jesus was foretelling His death, and Peter didn’t want Him to die. peter said, “this will NEVER happen to you”, and then Jesus calls him satan. Pretty crazy, but Jesus knew that He had to die on that cross so He can resurrect and save the world through the establishment of the New Covenant. Peter, looking through the lens of his flesh, was trying to stop Jesus destiny. He, at that moment, became an adversary (a satan) to Jesus.
The other interesting note we have to point out here is the language being used to describe this event. This is one of the most overlooked themes of reading the Bible. The reason why this is so important is because if we do not understand how the writers spoke, taught, and described things, we can possibly take things literal, that were always meant to be metaphorical…and vice versa.
The first century Jews taught in a style that is called “apocalyptic language.” This is a very poetical and graphical style of language used to describe natural events. For example, if I say, “Alrighty guys. It’s time for me to hit the hay”, I am not going into a room and punching a stack of hay…I am going to bed. The issue is if you don’t know that we use that term like that, and read this blog 2000 years from now, you may believe I am going to physically hit some hay. Context is key to understanding different writing styles and languages.
We can again even more insight on this topic with the very next verse. Luke 10:19 says,”Behold, I have given you authority to walk on snakes and scorpions, and authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you”.
Do we believe that the authority that was given was too literally and physically walk on top of serpents and scorpions? Obviously not. What is being described is that Jesus has given them and anyone who has been handed authority and appointed (all of those that believe), the power to walk on anything that can possibly harm us. They are subject to us! Jesus used serpents and scorpions to them because they were real harmful threats to the audience He was talking too.
If this topic interests you, I put together a great training on, “How to read the Bible” that people seem to absolutely love! It will 100% help you read, understand and apply the Word of God to your life.
Jesus was watching the seventy two he just appointed and sent out spread good news, heal the sick and cast out devils. He was watching them move like a proud papa watches their children take their first steps.
One of the main issues these gentiles were dealing with was illnesses, diseases, and sickness. The average life expectancy was only about 35 years old mostly because of all of the illnesses that were going around. These sicknesses were adversarial to these people. It was their #1 opponent.
Jesus gives the authority to heal sicknesses to the seventy two, which you can now see why this made them so popular amongst the Gentiles…even Jesus.
After they start healing the sick, everyone is shouting with excitement and joy! They were being healed INSTANTLY! As quick as lightning!
As Jesus is watching this He describes it as “satan (their adversary), falling from heaven like lightning.” If you remember the words of the seventy two as they returned, they said “even the demons are subject to us IN YOUR NAME.” Subject, again, beneath us.
These seventy two went out and took the Gentiles adversaries, their sicknesses, and brought them from the high place (heaven) to be subjected to them, or under their feet (earth). What an amazing showing of God’s goodness, God’s love and His power.
This is something I believe that we still have the power to do today. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He was healing in the New Covenant back then, He certainly can still heal today.
Let us allow God to mold us into the power holding vessels we were called to be, and make satan fall like lightning in every area of our life and the lives of those around us.