Let’s go back in time, you who are older; and let’s maybe see in the present, those who are younger. I want to help you grasp a great truth, whether by invading your memory or by stirring your present desires. I hope all who read this can understand first the emotional elation of being recognized, and secondly the overwhelming joy that could be yours.
Can you remember a time in your life when you anticipated your name being on a list or called out in front of a gathering? Maybe you waited for the teacher to read aloud the names that made the honor roll, maybe you rushed to the bulletin board to find your name on the list of those who were selected to be in the school play, maybe you waited in agony to see if your name would be called to receive an award, or maybe you tried out for a sports team and your heart beat like a hummingbird going to the list of names that made the team. If any of these apply to you, do you remember how that made you feel when you saw or heard your name? Don’t think of the disappointments; think of the elation you felt when your name did appear or was read aloud. Most of us can find that time in our lives.
I think you know what I’m talking about; if not, no need to fret, your time will come if you understand and embrace this teaching. To be recognized, to be set apart, to reach a goal, to be appreciated for a job well done, is a longing in our collective hearts that no one can escape. We all long for significance, a feeling of somehow being special. To rob any person of this pursuit is to rob them of their self-worth. Oh, we may say to ourselves, it doesn’t really matter to me. But deep down, if you are honest with yourself, you must realize that every person has this desire…even you.
If you peel back the layers of who you are and break down the walls of self-defense you have built to protect your heart, you will find that the most compelling and magnetic desire in life is to be loved. A person that attempts life without love is a person forever lost. When we know we are loved, the whole game changes. We spend much of our time looking for love from others, from a significant other, from our friends, from our children, and the list can go on ad infinitum. Once we find love in others, we eventually discover that all people will eventually leave us disappointed. Either love was lost, or loved ones pass on to the other side of eternity; one way or another, earthly love comes to an end.
So my point is that we all crave to be remembered, to know our lives matter, to someway become special, or to leave an imprint or legacy for our time here on this tiny planet we call earth. Let me ask you a question: Who won the Pulitzer Prize last year? Who won the James Joyce Award 5 years ago? Who in your sophomore class in high school won the science award or the math award? And one more question: Who do you think remembers any of your awards or promotions or accomplishments? If we are being brutally forthcoming, then we probably are disappointed by either our lack of recall or can count the one’s that remember our achievements on one (maybe two) hands. Again, don’t fret. I’m taking you to a lovely destination!
In Luke, Chapter 10, in verse 20, Jesus makes an incredible statement. Let’s set the scene. Our Lord had just sent out 70 disciples ahead of Him to enter cities and announce His impending arrival. During this campaign, the ones that were sent saw incredible miracles happen. Not only did they witness these miracles, but they were the ones doing the miracles! Technically, God did the miracles, but He allowed these disciples to be the instruments through whom He accomplished these mighty works. They brought the Kingdom of God to people by telling them of the good news of Christ, they healed the sick, they opened blind eyes, and they cast out demons. When this particular campaign was over, the ones returning were marveling, relishing in joy over the miraculous power they had seen and had personally participated. Can you imagine what that would be like? You go out, following the orders of the One whom you had seen do miraculous things, and you come to realize early on in the journey, that you too are doing the works of the Master! I don’t know about you, but I would be on cloud 9 as well! These guys were literally trippin’, to use modern vernacular.
Our brilliant Teacher in essence is unfazed, like, whatever, no big deal; that is nothing really. Then He continues His thought recorded in verse 20; He basically says, “Don’t get all excited about having this power, but I tell you what: DO GET EXCITED that your name is recorded in heaven.” Huh? I’m sure the disciples looked at each other and marveled at such a statement. You have to understand, none of them were reared in an evangelical home and church! Most of the Jews in first century Palestine only vaguely knew of such an idea; in fact, the Jewish population was basically split into two groups: the ones who believed in a resurrection from the dead (a Pharisaic “yoke” or interpretation of the Torah) and those who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead (an interpretation of the Scriptures by the Sadducees). It was a “hot topic” of the day, and the arguments, I’m sure, were fierce and passionate by both sides. It would be like us today arguing about whether you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or a post-tribulation rapture. Proponents from both sides are equipped with their biblical proofs and could argue into the wee hours of any night without losing a bit of zeal! So this concept went from an unclear mystery to a divine reality in their very hearing!
So these disciples most assuredly were joyous for two very good reasons: number one, there IS a heaven and an afterlife; number two, their names are recorded in that place. Hallelujah! Praise God! This moment for them was one of complete awe…it had to be overwhelming. Then, right after this statement, our Lord goes on to rejoice in the Spirit when He cries out to the Father, “Father, thank you for giving this power and understanding to the weak, uneducated, and simple folk! Thank you for being so awesome and unpredictable in hiding these great truths from the educated, strong, and wise! Your plan Father, is a wonderment to even Me!” (This is my own paraphrase; read it yourself and see that I’m not pushing the content or intent).
So here is the news for you today. I want you to imagine or daydream or meditate or simply embrace the truth that one day, in the not too distant future, you will stand in front of all humanity, in front of all of the angels, in front of Christ Himself, and as the Book of Life is opened and being read from, YOUR NAME IS READ ALOUD FOR ALL TO HEAR!
Your name…yes…as one of His, your glorious name.
As the white throne judgment is being played out before your very eyes, can you imagine the joy that will burst forth from your heart when you hear YOUR NAME announced to every living thing in the presence of the Father Himself? After all of life’s struggles, after all the battles with sin in your life, after many long nights of holding a dying loved one’s hand as they slip away from you, after your own battle with the fear of death, after all the periods in your life where your faith was tested and maybe even lost along the way, after all of the pain and suffering and loss and tears and toil…FINALLY the time has come and your name is announced from the Book of Life, recorded there by His hand many years prior. And Jesus testifies to the Father, “Father, this one is Mine.”
Oh beloved, don’t lose hope in this difficult journey we call life. The climb is so worth the destination. There will be no greater joy than to be claimed by the One who bought you with His own blood. You will be embraced by the Master Himself as your name is read from the Book of Life and he claims you right in front of the Father. What joy! What accomplishment! How special do you think you will feel then? Will you finally feel like your life mattered, that you made a difference, that you were truly significant? You bet! Jesus wraps His arms around you as you shed tears of joy on His shoulder and He whispers in your ear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
So you see, the joy we find here on earth when we are recognized or honored is but trivial compared to the destiny of that incredible day. The day when you are finally home, finally at peace, and finally in the arms of the One you trusted enough to put your faith. So when Jesus makes that statement recorded in Luke 10, do you think He meant it? He is incapable of telling a lie or exaggerating; He says rejoice now in this fact. So embrace it fellow brothers and sisters. Rejoice indeed that your name is written in the Book of Life! And if by chance, you are not sure, then spend the rest of your life seeking that assurance. Is there anything more valuable or precious to find? Is there any event in your life that will eclipse that day? The answer, my friend, is a definitive NO. That day will be the best day of your life. Period.