As a Deputy Lieutenant of the county where we live my husband is often involved in ‘citizenship ceremonies’ where people who originated from other countries but have come to live and work in the UK are granted (having fulfilled certain criteria) ‘citizenship’ of the UK and can have a British passport and all the benefits (and responsibilities) of being a UK citizen.
A similar situation was in operation in Israel under Roman occupation and rule when Jesus was there. People were registered to the town where they lived and that meant there were benefits and responsibilities. So, when Jesus said, “rejoice because your names are registered in heaven”, the seventy-two disciples would have known what He meant.
Earlier in the passage He does say that there is work to be done and that it would not be easy. There would be rejection and opposition to be faced. He gave them clear instructions on how to behave on the mission He was sending them on. They came back in high spirits because of the power they had experienced to heal the sick and cast out the demons.
I am sure we can understand that. It is quite exciting. Jesus was not saying don’t rejoice over that. What He was saying is that the most important thing to rejoice over is that our names are on the register in Heaven. This is the foundational truth. Our names are not on the register in Heaven because we do the work He calls us to, or because we can cast out demons in His name, but because He wrote them there for us.
Remember there are benefits to being a citizen. In Hebrews 4:16, it says, ‘So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.’ So just rest for a moment or two in the glorious truth that your name is written in Heaven and that you don’t have to hide away from God because of your sin, as Adam and Eve did in the garden. You can come boldly into the presence of God to receive His mercy and grace.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that my name is written on the register of Heaven so I can come into the Father’s presence and this is because of what You did for me. Amen.
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