Reflection: Words from Luke, in the News on March 30, 2021
Published: March 30th, 2021
A verse from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, was getting attention all over the world on Tuesday (March 30, 2021).
The original context, from Luke’s rendering of the Good News, concerns the mission Jesus of Nazareth gave to 72 of his disciples to travel to areas where he planned soon to visit.
He directed them to travel without baggage, trusting in His message – and the power they discovered, speaking in His name.
When they returned rejoicing over what had transpired in their various journeys, the Nazarene cautioned them, “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Here’s Luke 10:18, “in the news” and widely quoted, as rendered in some standard translations:
New International Version: He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. …”
New Living Translation: “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!”
English Standard Version: And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. …”
King James Bible: And he said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. …”
New American Bible: Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. …”
The verse (and its place in Luke’s story) has particular meaning for followers of Jesus.
In troubled times, its use in a marketing pitch for footwear is odd, and has triggered a clash among powerful economic interests. More broadly, for those who are sincere people of faith, and perhaps for many of those who respect such folk, its latest use may seem curious. It was apparently intended to give offense to many.
For this historian and journalist and observant soul, this is a powerful reminder that even as many aim to erode or to destroy or to banish from memory the traditional understanding and meaning of words, the words in Sacred Scripture retain power.
This moment brings comprehension of what was intended when first these words entered into common usage:
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24: 35, King James Version)