Jesus was Deeply Moved with Joy

Jesus was Deeply Moved with Joy

Jesus was Deeply Moved with Joy.

“The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit… When the seventy-two missionaries returned to Jesus, they were ecstatic with joy, telling Him, ‘Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we commanded them in Your name!… Then Jesus, overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s anointing of joy (agalliato) exclaimed, ‘Father, thank you, for you are Lord of heaven and earth! You have hidden these things from those who are proud, those wise in their eyes, and you have shared it with those who are but mere babes, these who have humbled themselves like children. Yes, Father. This is what pleases your heart, this is what seemed good in your sight.” (Luke 10:1, 17, 21).

“agalliato” = a Greek word that means to jump for joy; to be exceedingly glad with exceeding joy; to dance and twirl with great gladness; to rejoice greatly; to be ecstatic with overflowing joy. This Greek word was also used in Luke 1:44, when Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, greeted Mary who was pregnant with Jesus, “Indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb with great joy (agalliato)!” 

Roughly midway through the three-year public ministry of Jesus, He commissioned seventy disciples to go to far-flung towns throughout Israel that are in Jesus’ travel plans. He wants them to prepare these towns for His coming. Jesus is planning on visiting these towns and villages soon, and He wants them prepared for His arrival and His ministry.

Jesus personally selected seventy-two followers of His who were not a part of His original twelve. These believers have been with Him long enough to be familiar with His teachings, His mission, His ways of doing things. They have heard His parables, witnessed His miracles, and observed Him as He ministered for a year and a half to everyone from the religious elite to the religious outcasts. These seventy were sent in pairs to cities around Judea, no doubt, and they were in many ways like babes in the woods. He even said He was sending them out like lambs in the midst of wolves. These seventy-two disciples were somewhat prepared, but they were not mature old saints by any means. Evidently, Jesus had confidence in them to be useful to the Kingdom. One doesn’t have to be perfectly wise and experienced to be used by the Lord. Jesus wanted these disciples to learn by experience. All seventy-two names in the traditional list of names have been declared saints by the Orthodox Church.

Jesus was hugely successful in His early leadership training of these seventy-two disciples as they all later became Christian leaders throughout the Roman Empire. At the start, though, in the group of seventy-two missionaries, all of them were in the spirit of Paul’s description in 1 Corinthians 1:26-28“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considered foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. and he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” After the return of the seventy-two, Jesus referred to them as childlike, who didn’t think of themselves as wise and clever (Luke 10:21).

Jesus gave very specific instructions to His seventy missionaries as they traveled from one village to the next. He was very detailed as to how they were to conduct themselves during these visits:

  1. Pray for others to join in the work. The harvest is plentiful, and we need more workers. The seventy ambassadors became the answers to their own prayers.
  2. Be careful. Be alert. The disciples might be vulnerable to those who reject their presence. They are being sent out like lambs, and there might be the presence of wolves who would antagonize or work against them. Keep your eyes wide open as you experience opposition.
  3. Depend on God for the essentials. Don’t bring a purse for traveling money. Don’t bring a knapsack for extra clothing. Don’t even bring an extra pair of sandals.
  4. Don’t get distracted from the mission. Don’t loiter, don’t engage in small talk. Don’t worry about the Jewish obligation of long and involved greetings on the road. Keep your eyes on the prize.
  5. Be good guests in the homes. Stay in one house instead of hopping from one home to the other, as if you were looking for better accommodations. Accept whatever hospitality is offered. Accept whatever food and drink is offered. Don’t be picky, and be thankful for whatever you are given.
  6. Offer a blessing of peace in the homes you enter. The homes will receive that peace if they are open to the Good News and offering you hospitality.
  7. Be my working messengers. When a town welcomes you, speak about the Kingdom of God being near, encourage them to repent of their sins, heal the sick and expel the demons. Be my healing presence in the towns that welcome you. Let them know that you represent me. If they accept you, they in fact accept me. If they reject you, they are actually rejecting me. You are my ambassadors.
  8. Shake the dust from your sandals if you are not welcomed in a town. This was a standard practice of pious Jews whenever leaving a Gentile town. They are making a statement that they are separating themselves from Gentile practices and influences. Even the very dust of Gentile towns was considered unclean. This was a religious practice intended to keep the Jews pure after interacting with the heathens. The fact that Jesus wanted the disciples to do this act for unwelcome towns implies that those places that reject the Good News are no better than the heathens. If a town rejects you, Jesus is saying, shake the dust, shrug your shoulders, and move on. Leave them to their fate. You are not  responsible for them anymore.

When the seventy-two ambassadors returned to Jesus after their prescribed mission, how much success did they experience? What was their report to the Lord? Luke only records one aspect of the their report, in Luke 10:17. They rejoiced, they were overjoyed at their success. They exclaimed that even the demons obeyed them when they used the name of Jesus! If they were able to succeed at casting out demons from those who suffered from demonic possession, then certainly they had to have participated in many healings as well. No wonder the seventy-two were so enthusiastic. They witnessed many spiritual victories operating under the authority of Jesus. Jesus immediately shared in their overflowing joy. But He immediately brought them down to earth. Spiritual accomplishments still are not to be the primary source of joy, Jesus told them. Giftedness and success may lead to pride, so be careful here. After all, Jesus said, pride was the downfall of the extremely gifted angel Satan. I was an eyewitness, declared Jesus, I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Don’t start getting proud of your spiritual powers. Instead, rejoice first that you are saved, your names are written in heaven. That is the most important miracle of all! Salvation, and your citizenship in heaven, is the most significant factor in your lives. So rejoice first in that!

If Jesus had a secret in the gospels, it was joy. Even though it might be somewhat understated in the gospels, we know enough to realize that joy is a central aspect of His eternal essence and nature. Because He was also a “man of sorrows,” His joy may have been hidden at times. Perhaps only hearts that are wide enough for grief can be deep enough for joy. But Jesus was full of joy, and He earnestly wants His joy to be fulfilled in us, completed in Him. (John 15:1117:13). Jesus wanted His followers to “enter into His joyous delight.” (John 17:13, TPT). But what gave Jesus joy? What was the secret, and not so secret, source of Jesus’ joy, His “cosmic contentment,” as G. K. Chesterton said in Orthodoxy?

  1. Communion with the Father. “Father, now I am returning to you, so I pray they will experience and enter into my joyous delight in you, so that it is fulfilled in them and overflows.” (John 17:13, TPT). There is an eternal oneness between Father and Son that is unknowable. It is the secret source of Jesus’ joy. He knew and was known by the Father in the deepest possible sense. Jesus was certain of His Father’s love, and he knew first-hand that the Father was pleased with Him. Jesus was assured of His Father’s blessing, and that gave Him contentment and peace and unconquerable joy. Jesus was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. There is no deeper union than that between Jesus and His Father. And that gave Jesus an eternal wellspring of joy and abiding gladness. (Luke 10:22John 3:3510:153014:10-1117:5,22). “If Christ laughed a great deal, as the evidence shows, and if He is what He claimed to be, we cannot avoid the logical conclusion that there is laughter and merriment in the heart of God.” (Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ).
  2. Creation. “May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made.” (Ps. 104:31). Jesus was certainly a joyful co-creator, making the universe with gladness. He rejoiced while designing life on earth, while inventing humanity based on Him as the prototype. Jesus no doubt had deep satisfaction when He brought light out of darkness, when He produced a stunning variety of good things. He certainly harmonized with the morning stars when they sang for joy during creation. Like any artist, creation brought immense delight to Jesus, as He looked at His handiwork and pronounced it “good.” “How happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family.” (Prov. 8:31). (also, Job 38:4, 6, 7Prov. 8:27-31Gen. 1:31).
  3. Ministry. Joy is a net of love by which we can catch souls.” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta). Jesus seemed to take great joy in His mission, which was to be the source of salvation and wholeness for all people. He took joy in saving and serving people, because He knew it pleased the Father. For Jesus loved being useful to the Father, doing His will, completing His work, ministering to people. Obeying the Father is what satisfied Jesus, what gave Him life, like food and water to His spiritual digestive system. Jesus found joy in rescuing people from sin, in making them whole. “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17). (also Jeremiah 15:16; Luke 4:43-44John 4:346:38-4015:1117:13).

Yes, we know that Jesus had the capacity to be ecstatic in joy, to dance with joy in the Holy Spirit, to leap with joy like the Baptist did as a baby in the womb. Since Christians are “in Christ,” we can literally experience the joy that Jesus enjoyed. We too can be deeply moved with His exceeding gladness. We can live into His joy as we follow Him and remain in union with Him. After all, we know the profound words that will be music to our ears at the end… “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21).