I love to watch a good lightning storm… from a distance! Being directly underneath one is not much fun.
When I was a Dean for a Middle School week of summer camp, there were severe thunderstorm warnings for our location throughout one of the nights. I was lying on my top bunk wide awake while most of the camp was asleep. I could see a distant storm outside my window crossing to the north.
As I lay there, I watched continuous lightning strikes for almost an hour, partially because I was concerned for the safety of the campers, but mostly because I was mesmerized by the light show.
We ended up only experiencing some hard rain at the camp. But to watch the lightning at a distance was better than any fireworks display I have ever seen.
Lightning is dangerous and should be taken seriously. Lightning is also a natural phenomenon that God created. Possibly it was created to help us appreciate His power. I just imagine if God were to speak to us it would sound like thunder.
I believe Jesus enjoyed a good lightning storm. The only reference to support that statement is the one where Jesus refers to Satan’s fall from heaven like lightning. We read about that in Luke 10. Jesus sends out 72 disciples to do ministry. (We sometimes forget that Jesus had other followers than the 12 disciples.)
The whole group of disciples return and report that they were able to cast demons out of people in the name of Jesus. Then in verses 18 and 19 Jesus says,
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
For many years I read that text without too much thought. Like many of us, I would see this verse as a description of what Jesus saw when Satan was kicked out of heaven. We read Bible descriptions of that in Revelation 12 and in Isaiah 14. If Jesus was there in the beginning, at creation, he was also there when Satan was cast down to the earth.
This text means so much more. There are two different verb tenses used in verse 19. Jesus said, “I saw.” The tense there is one that means an ongoing progression. Meaning Jesus saw a consistent repetition of what he describes. The second verb is “Satan fall.” This verb tense describes an immediate and quick action.
What Jesus is describing is a spiritual lightning storm! Yes, Satan was cast out of heaven. He was defeated by the virgin birth of Christ. He was defeated again when Jesus was baptized and overcame the devil’s temptations in the wilderness. Jesus defeated him ultimately when he rose from the grave. Jesus has seen Satan lose over and over ever since he was cast down.
Now Jesus is saying that he saw Satan falling like a lightning bolt each time one of the 72 disciples cast out a demon, shared the message of the good news, or prayed and witnessed a person’s healing. His fall here is not just from heaven as in the throne of God, but like a lightning bolt from the heavens as in the sky. Repeatedly, Satan was receiving a beat down!
That same power lives in us. Let’s claim that power and let God use us to create more lightning strikes in the spiritual realm. Every time we pray in Jesus’ name, share His love with others, pray for and witness healing, and command demons to flee there is another flash of light and victory in the spiritual world. I think Jesus likes a lightning storm.