Failure in Success


Public success can ruin us. It doesn’t take much for our egos to get out of control, causing our minds to get off-track and our agendas to be altered. When our pride gets inflated, we can start to take credit for work that God has done. In this passage, it appears that the seventy-two disciples were in danger of getting derailed from the true purpose for which they were sent out, they and were getting excited for the wrong reasons.

  • In what areas do struggle with pride?
  • As you prepare to read the passage today, ask the Lord to show you areas of pride in your life.


17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Compare and contrast the responses of the disciples and of Jesus. How are they similar and how are they different (vss. 17-20)?
  2. To whom did God reveal spiritual truth (vs. 21)? How does this example stand in contrast to our culture’s view of who is wise?
  3. Jesus made a pretty exclusive statement in verse 22. How is it that someone can know God and, therefore, know eternal life?
  4. What is it that you have experienced in your relationship with God that prophets and kings “desired to see… and hear” yet did not (vss. 23-24)?  Make a list of the ways God has blessed you, had mercy on you, and forgiven you.


Jesus responded to the seventy-two disciples’ success with a surprising example of humility. The seventy-two saw only what was happening on the outside—that they were casting out demons—but Jesus saw much deeper than that. In the spiritual realm, their ministry damaged Satan; but even more significantly, the disciples were eternally secure because their names were written in the book of life. Our successes are miniscule compared to the work that God is doing to bring us eternal healing and eternal life.

  • Confess the ways that you are inclined to take credit for that which rightly belongs to the Lord.
  • Ask the Lord for more of a child-like heart—one that is open to the truth of the Lord and ready to receive his teaching.