By David Faust
When you picture Jesus, is there a frown of disapproval on his face? A furrowed brow? A twinkle in his eye? A wide smile? At times the Lord expressed righteous anger and indignation, but Luke 10:21 reveals another side to his personality. It says Jesus was “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21). What filled the Lord with joy at this point in his ministry?
Jesus rejoiced because he saw his followers succeed. Earlier Luke tells us that Jesus sent 72 of his disciples on a mission two by two, and they “returned with joy” (vv. 1, 17). Jesus’ heart overflowed with gladness when he saw his disciples experiencing the satisfaction of productive service in God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul felt the same way. He told a group of first-century Christians, “You are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:20).
A coach celebrates when his players succeed. A teacher rejoices when her students grasp the lesson. If you enjoy playing baseball yourself, don’t be surprised if someday you find it’s even more fun to watch your grandson slide into home plate with the winning run. We miss a lot of joy if we fail to mentor someone else and pass along the faith, skill, and wisdom God has given us. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, observed, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Jesus also rejoiced because he saw Satan defeated. His disciples reported, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name,” and Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17, 18). Spiritual warfare is real, but so is the devil’s downfall. The battle rages, but victory is assured. Jesus promised his disciples the ability “to overcome all the power of the enemy” (v. 19).
Even more, Jesus rejoiced because he saw people saved. He told his disciples, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (v. 20). No matter what problems a congregation goes through, there is joy when a new believer is baptized. No matter what discouragement a minister may face, his heart rejoices when he sees a new Christian growing in the Lord. There is abiding joy in the realization that God knows our identity and he has removed our guilt. No matter what difficulties we face here on earth, our hope is secure and our names are recorded for safe keeping in God’s heavenly file cabinet.
Further, Jesus rejoiced because he saw ordinary people experiencing God’s blessing. He prayed, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do” (v. 21).
God seems to enjoy blessing the humble, lifting up the weak, showing special grace to the down-and-out. He delights in revealing himself to ordinary people whose hearts are receptive. Jesus “turned to his disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it’” (vv. 23, 24). Childlike faith brings joy to the heart of God.
What makes Jesus smile? I hope we do.
1. What is happening in your life right now that gives joy to the Lord?
2. What spiritual blessings are fueling your own personal joy right now?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for July 21, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Thessalonians 3:1–6
2 Chronicles 1, 2
1 Thessalonians 3:7–13
2 Chronicles 3—5
1 Thessalonians 4:1–10
2 Chronicles 6, 7
1 Thessalonians 4:11–18
2 Chronicles 8, 9
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
2 Chronicles 10—12
1 Thessalonians 5:12–28
2 Chronicles 13—16
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