The Joy of Salvation (Luke 10:21-24)
It is an unfortunate reality that the doctrine of God’s Unconditional Election often results in pride rather than joy. The Caged Stage is real. However, Jesus had every intention of this doctrine filling us with joy, as we will see from this passage.
The past three sermons have considered how Jesus appointed seventy-two “other” disciples to bring a message of peace into the surrounding cities. The disciples were rebuked for rejoicing in the subjection of demonic spirits, rather than the fact that their names were written in heaven. The authority they had been given was good, but it was only a temporary blessing. They should have had their hearts set towards their heavenly blessings which cannot pass away.
Rejoicing is once again the subject, but here it is Jesus rejoicing in the work of salvation. More specifically, Jesus is rejoicing in the authority that he has been given to reveal the Father to anyone he chooses to reveal him.
All authority is derived from God and returns to God. This temporary authority that the disciples had received, was nothing in comparison to the authority of the Son to reveal the Father to them. The fact that they know Jesus means that they know the Father. In the big scheme of things. Nothing else matters!
The joy of our salvation ought to overflow when we realize that salvation is the result of a sovereign God.
Read Luke 10:21-24
REJOICING IN REVELATION (21)
Jesus’ prayer begins by addressing his “Father”. It is a misnomer to think that Jesus prayed with language equivalent to saying “Daddy”. That may sound precious and intimate, and we would not want to imply that Jesus was not in close communion with his Father, but it is misleading. “Abba” was the language that all children used to address their father, regardless of their age. Adults called their fathers “Abba”. It does imply a greater intimacy than other rabbis were comfortable suggesting.
The term translated “little children” broadly applies to children from the age of infancy to a child who is beginning to learn “the elementary principles of the world” (Gal 4:3). Jesus is referring to them as spiritual children who are young in their understanding. They are at an age where they are entirely dependent upon their parents and tutors. They must trust the authorities over them because they lack the understanding to have any self-confidence. If the disciples had any recognition of the Messiah’s mission it is not due to any wisdom or level of education on their part. They had received their revelation as a gift from God.
They recognized their need to learn from Christ. They didn’t come with an arrogance like the “wise and understanding” Pharisees and scribes. They were humble in their understanding and they did not presume to know everything already. This is a principle that we should always keep in mind. We ought to come to Church with the mindset of the humble tax collector who “would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Lk 18:13). The Pharisee is the one who comes to church projecting an air of distinction from everyone else and presuming that his works will be rewarded by God (Lk 18:10-12).
We may not project the arrogance of the Pharisee, but how often to we find ourselves comparing our works and understanding to others in the church. We recognize that we are not perfect, but we do feel superior to most of those around us. This attitude of superiority is common to man, but should be fought at every level within the Church.
The knowledge that these disciples had received the privilege of revelation brought Jesus tremendous joy. We know a lot about the sorrows of our Savior. We have three accounts of Jesus weeping and sorrowful. He was considered a “Man of Sorrow”. Do you know that this is the only time we read about Jesus rejoicing?
That doesn’t mean Jesus was a morose individual. He didn’t mope through life, but his heart was frequently heavy with the weight of his mission. However, on this occasion, and for the reasons that he explains, his joy was so evident that it was recorded for us. Jesus was filled with delight upon the successful return of the seventy-two disciples.
Is it not rewarding to know that your Savior delights to see your participation in his kingdom purposes? When we rely upon him to accomplish his purposes, he gets the glory and the joy. Our faith and works—filled with mixed motives, and misappropriated joy—bring delight to our Lord and Savior. Not only that.
All three persons of the Trinity are involved in this passage. The Son rejoices in the Holy Spirit, thanking his Father for revealing the message of peace, which the seventy-two had just returned from delivering, to little children. Jesus experiences joy and expresses that joy in prayer that is characterized as “in the Holy Spirit” and addressed to the Father. There is a Trinitarian aspect to true joy. The joy of the Son revealed the will and joy of the Father and Spirit. This ought to enhance our own sense of privilege all the more.
In addition to rejoicing in revelation, Jesus also, and more specifically was…
REJOICING IN ELECTION (22)
John Calvin points out two things from this verse. First, God has the power to reveal the gospel to everyone. The fact that some reject God is not due to any lack of authority or power on God’s part. Second, the fact that some express faith while others remain hardened is due to the authority of free election that has been given to the Son. Jesus draws some to himself and passes by others. You did not choose God because you had more wisdom than your neighbor.
This is expressed all the more clearly by revealing himself to those who are not wise and powerful. If only the wise came to God the assumption would be that only those with enough knowledge and skill could know God. It would be available to the elites alone. But, instead, God shows no partiality to anyone. Man contributes absolutely nothing to his justification. Anything he could add would only obscure God’s glory.
We should be careful to point at that Jesus is speaking of a particular kind of knowledge here. Everyone knows something about God. That is plain from passages like Psalm 19 and Romans 1. There is a general revelation that is experienced by everyone. All people know there is a God, but they suppress that truth. However, knowing that God exists and knowing the God who exists are two different things. The first requires general revelation, but the second requires special revelation. This special revelation is required to know God intimately.
In order to come to the Father in this special way requires the invitation of the Son. These same disciples heard Jesus say, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him,” (John 14:6-7).
When we come to know Jesus we also come to know the Father. And upon our union with the Son through faith, we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). Which includes his choosing of us “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). It includes our predestination for adoption (Eph. 1:5).
In order to know the Father we must rightly know the Son. It is not possible to know the Father and reject the Son as so many of the Jews had done. It is not possible to have a relationship with God and reject his Trinitarian nature as so many modern cults have done (i.e., Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons).
His application is given directly to his disciples who ought to be filled with…
THE JOY OF SALVATION (23-24)
The disciples are blessed, rather than cursed (10:13-16). They are blessed because they have been privileged to see and hear the Messiah directly. They experienced by sight what Abraham and Moses and Elijah had to look forward to in faith. They enjoyed, in person, what we must enjoy by faith in their testimony.
Sproul But there will come a time when we will see him face to face, we will hear him with our ears, and that blessing will be ours and his joy will be fulfilled in us.
The only proper response to having knowledge of this divine truth is gratitude which is expressed through sacrificial love and service. Did you notice the parable that follows this passage? Upon listening to this teaching of Jesus, a lawyer stood up to test Jesus with a question about eternal life (10:25). Jesus responds by providing the parable of the Good Samaritan. In other words, those who have been chosen by God will respond by living and loving sacrificially for others.