The Sending Out of the Seventy:
#45. Joy Inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:20-24)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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Text

Luke 10:17-24

[17] The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."

[18] He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. [19] I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. [20] However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

[21] At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "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 was your good pleasure.

[22] "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

[23] Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. [24] 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."


Exposition

Though you haven't seen Jesus' physical face, I'm sure you have a mental picture of him. Now in your mind's eye I want you to paint his face flushed with robust joy! Utterly joyful! That's the climate in this scene.

  • The Seventy return with joy (chara), and say "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." (10:17)
  • Jesus tells them, "Do not rejoice (chairo) that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice (chairo) that your names are written in heaven." (10:20)
  • Jesus is full of joy (agalliao) through the Holy Spirit, and breaks out in spontaneous praise, "I praise you, Father...." (10:21)

Joy and Rejoicing

This is the only time in Luke that we read about joy filling Jesus himself, though on a number of occasions he talks about joy and rejoicing. (Elsewhere we see in John's Gospel joy in the Master himself; John 3:29; 15:11; 17:13.) So let's take this opportunity to talk about joy and rejoicing. The New Testament uses three verbs to denote joy and happiness:

  • chairo -- "rejoice, be glad."[1] Physical comfort and well-being are the bases of joy. People use the verb chairo to greet one another and upon parting to wish joy to one another.[2] A related verb is sugchairo, "rejoice together."
  • euphraino -- "passive 'be glad, enjoy oneself, rejoice.' "[3] Indicates the subjective feeling of joy.[2] (This verb occurs in Luke at 12:19 and 15:23, 24, 29, 32; 16:32)
  • agalliaomai -- "exult, be glad, overjoyed."[4]. Describes the outward demonstration of joy and pride, and the exultation experienced in public worship.[2]. Also in Mary's Magnificat (1:47).

Full of Joy through the Holy Spirit (10:21)

" 'However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'
At that time Jesus, full of joy (agalliaomai) through the Holy Spirit...." (10:20-21)

Jesus is hearing about the exploits which the Seventy have just experienced. He sees their joy at power over evil spirits. He understands their victory in the spirit realm as part of the Fall of Satan, the beginning of the end of Satan's dominion. He understands the disciples' miracles of healing as the finger of God at work (see 11:20). Jesus is excited and exults in the moment. He also exults with the disciples that their names are written in heaven. It is a moment of victory and exaltation in God.

Notice that Jesus is said to be "full of joy through the Holy Spirit." The preposition in Greek is en, a very common preposition that can indicate, depending upon the context, place ("in," "within"), means or instrument ("with," "in," "by"), kind and manner (as in "with power"), or cause or reason ("because of," "on account of"). Here it seems to mean that Jesus is full of joy "inspired by" or caused by the Holy Spirit.[2] You see a similar construction in Romans 14:17, and a similar idea in Acts 13:52 and 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

Have you ever been moved by the Holy Spirit to great joy? Then you know what this is like. The Spirit can inspire us to knowledge and revelation, to worship and praise, to inspired words and a fullness of joy.

My Own Joy in the Spirit

My own experience of joy in the Holy Spirit began in 1962 when I experienced what Pentecostals would call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Though I think Pentecostal terminology is inaccurate at points (see my article "Spirit Baptism, the New Birth, and Speaking in Tongues" http://joyfulheart.com/scholar/spirit-baptism.htm), Pentecostals have done us all the immense favor of encouraging us to begin to experience the Holy Spirit without fear. In spite of excesses in the movement, it has spawned an entire new understanding of praise and worship, that, by the turn of the third millennium is strongly established in many Western churches.

I share my own experience -- not as a pattern for others, since you can't clone a relationship with God and shouldn't try -- but just by way of my own testimony. I was a senior in high school at the time, and was firmly established in the Lord as an evangelical Christian. I knew the Bible. But my experience of God was mainly mental, theological, and I was pretty shallow emotionally. I wasn't very in touch with my emotions. (Indeed, it has taken many years to get in better touch with my emotions.)

My mother and I began attending meetings around the San Francisco Bay Area sponsored by the fledgling charismatic movement. One Sunday evening, we Presbyterians heard an Episcopalian speaker at an Assemblies of God church in Sunnyvale. After the service, we joined others in a prayer room behind the auditorium, and knelt down in front of cold metal folding chairs. I began to thank God in English as best I knew. I remember surrendering my life afresh to the Lord as I knelt there. And as I continued to praise the Lord, I found that I was able to praise him in another language that seemed to form as I spoke out words of praise. For me it wasn't what I would call an ecstatic experience. I was in complete control of my faculties. (My mother, on the other hand, prayed for half an hour in tongues in what I would call an ecstatic experience.) For me it was an experience of curious joy in the Lord. A kind of quiet joy and praise.

A couple of days after this experience, my analytical self kicked in. Did I really speak in tongues? Or was I just making up those words out of my head? I couldn't answer those questions. But my self-analysis discovered several new things in my spiritual life that had not been present before:

  • A love for the Lord that now had an emotional component beyond than the previous intellectual love. Before that time, if some old lady would have asked me, "Sonny, do you love the Lord?" I would have awkwardly replied, "Yes, I guess I do." And I am sure I did. But now I felt that love at an emotional level, and could express it better to God, both in English and in tongues.
  • A joy in the Lord that seemed to be welling up inside of me. When I would think about God's greatness and wonder, or begin to sing and worship, a big smile would form on my face and grow until I was radiant with joy. And though I have been through many ups and downs since then, that joy in the Lord has never left me. Nor have I found this joy dependent upon me praying in tongues. It really has little to do with tongues.
  • An insatiable hunger for the Word now drove me to read the Scriptures more and more. I had read the Bible before this, but now I hungered to learn more.

My self-analysis had revealed these three new characteristics, and I knew from the Bible that each of these was a good and godly fruit or result of the Holy Spirit working in me. I ended up believing in the reality of the gift of tongues as a personal prayer language mainly as a result of evaluating the fruit that surrounded this experience in my life.

I share this realizing that some of you will reject me and my teaching as a result. But I take that risk realizing that sometimes our growth as disciples is encouraged and freed by others sharing how they encounter God, even though their experience has been much different than ours. When I try to understand what it meant for Jesus to be "filled with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit," I understand it based partly my own experience of joy inspired by the Spirit.

Dear friends, please don't get hung up on speaking in tongues, as wonderful as that might be. That isn't the point. But do realize that God can inspire joy in you by his Holy Spirit, and I believe he desires to do so. Long ago, the first question of Westminster Shorter Catechism asked, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer is simply and profoundly framed with these words: "To know God and to enjoy him forever." Yes! The Spirit longs to inspire us to enjoy him from deep within our beings! The Apostle Peter expressed it this way:

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Revealed to Little Children (10:21)

One of the lessons of this week's passage is that joy inspired by the Holy Spirit finds expression in praise. That is exactly what happened in Jesus.

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, '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 was your good pleasure.' " (10:21)

Jesus' Spirit-inspired joy breaks out in spontaneous praise to his Father. Here is the Son acknowledging the greatness of his Father's plan. Notice the progression:

Lord of heaven and earth
Wise and learned
Little children

In this case, the Lord of heaven and earth skips earth's intellectual elite, and instead bestows his revelation directly upon theological novices. The "wise and learned" shows up a few verses later as "an expert in the law" who knows a great deal, and is even correct in some of his understanding, but misses the point of love in action.

The Apostle Paul has a similar theme in his First Letter to the Corinthians:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth...." (1 Cor. 1:18-26)

I consider myself a scholar of sorts, so this kind of language makes me uneasy. But I have spent enough time around institutions of higher learning to become aware they can be bastions of atheism. Disillusioned college professors are often evangelists of doubt. (Now that is an oxymoron!) And a large slice of the theological volumes of the last century have been written by men and women whose faith seems depleted or absent. I say this with sorrow.

God reveals himself to people with simple, open hearts. An intellectual aptitude is not a requirement, and can sometimes even obstruct God's work in us. So Jesus watched his disciples come back from their preaching mission with such excitement and enthusiasm that he, too, was overwhelmed with Spirit-inspired joy.

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, '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 was your good pleasure.' " (10:21)

Jesus Reveals the Father (10:22)

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (10:22)

In verses 21 and 22, one verb appears twice: "reveal." The Greek word is apokalupto, "reveal, disclose, bring to light."[6]

We humans have several approaches to knowledge. One is studying the empirical evidence, designing experiments to test various hypotheses, and making deductions on the basis of our present knowledge. This is the scientific method, and it has helped mankind discover a great deal about the world that God has created. But God himself is hidden. You can speculate about him based on the world he has created. But you can't know him in an accurate or intimate sense -- unless he reveals himself, or someone introduces you to him, that is, reveals the information that you need to understand his values and desires, so you can get acquainted with him personally.

The word "know" in our passage is the common Greek word ginosko, "know, come to know, learn (of), ascertain, find out." But the meaning then extends to "understand, comprehend," and to a euphemism of sexual relations.[7] Without revelation we can know about God and study what former rabbis (or theology professors) have written about him, but we can't know him intimately ourselves. This is the same thing that Jesus told Nicodemus, a widely-respected teacher and ruler in Jerusalem -- and later a disciple of Jesus: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3). Some knowledge comes through study, but "seeing the kingdom of God" must be revealed, and requires the Holy Spirit to give birth to spiritual enlightenment and personal salvation (John 3:6; 1 Corinthians 1:10-15).

Our passage in Luke 10:22 sounds very much like the aspects of Jesus' teaching revealed especially by the Apostle John:

"No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1:18)
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father." (John 6:44-46)
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17:26)
"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

Theologians have correctly discerned that God reveals himself to those he chooses, the elect. And this is a deep mystery. There is a sense in which, Jesus tells us, "Seek and you shall find." We must seek and ask and knock actively. But we cannot and will not break through to real understanding until God chooses to reveal the answer. And he will, Jesus teaches, in response to prayer (11:5-13). We must pray, first for ourselves, and then for those we are seeking to influence for Christ. We must pray for nations that are wrapped in spiritual darkness, that God might graciously reveal himself to them. In the last century we have seen "darkest Africa" become predominately Christian south of the Sahara. We have seen Korea turn dramatically to Christ within a century. In answer to prayer. Many prayers.

This brings me to a personal question for you. Do you know God personally? Yes, you know about God from studying. But do you know him yourself? Do you have joy in him inspired by the Holy Spirit? I don't really know where you are on your spiritual journey, but the prayer is the same. I invite you to pray it out loud with me:

"Lord Jesus, I want to know you and the Father. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface, and I want to know you more deeply than I have ever know you before. There's nothing I am trying to get out of this -- an experience high, rescue from hell, or anything -- I just want to know you for who you are. Please, reveal yourself to me afresh. I pray in your powerful name. Amen."

Blessed Are Eyes that See What You See (10:23-24)

"Then he 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.' " (10:23-24)

We take so much for granted! We're so privileged! When you read the pages of the Old Testament you see godly men and women who sought God and knew God -- Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Isaiah, Ezra, even John the Baptist -- and yet they didn't know him as we can know him. They didn't see what we see, even though they longed to. What an amazing privilege we have in knowing Jesus Christ.


Prayer

Father, thank you for the privileges and knowledge you have so richly showered upon us. We do so thank you for revealing Jesus to us. But we realize that you desire us to go much, much deeper in our relationship with you. Place an insatiable longing in our hearts for you!

And Father, we together pray for hundreds of people around the world who are studying this JesusWalk series along with us, who don't really know you yet. We pray that you will lead many of them to yourself, even today. Reveal yourself to them, also. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Key Verse

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Luke 10:22)


Questions

JesusWalk: Discipleship Training in Luke's Gospel, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
All 120 lessons now compiled as a 808-page e-book and paperback. Get your copy for easy reference

Dear friends, since I mentioned my own experience of speaking in tongues in this lesson, I'm concerned that some of our discussion groups may dissolve into arguments and disagreements about tongues. Though it's okay to mention tongues if that is on topic, let's be very gentle with one another where we disagree. Rather, let's focus on the joy this passage points us to. Thank you.

  1. What was it that prompted Jesus to be filled with joy in 10:21?
  2. There is a qualitative difference between joy that springs from the Holy Spirit, and normal human joy, as good as that is. How would you describe this difference?
  3. Why do you think God takes delight in revealing himself to spiritual novices instead of sophisticated scholars?
  4. Why do you think God doesn't allow just anyone to know him intimately? Why does this kind of knowledge require deliberate revelation by the Spirit?
  5. What do you think God looks for in a person he chooses to reveal himself to?
  6. What are we disciples supposed to learn from this passage? State what are the main lessons for us?


References

  1. BAGD873-874.
  2. Erich Beyreuther and Günter Finkenrath, "Joy, Rejoice," NIDNTT 2:352-361.
  3. BAGD327.
  4. BAGD3-4.
  5. So Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (Hendrickson, 1984), p. 54 (cf. Acts 13:52); and Joel Green, Gospel of Luke (NICNT), p. 422 n. 81. Eduard Schweizer, "pneuma, ktl.," TDNT 6:405, sees this passage as indicating inspiration by the Holy Spirit prior to an inspired saying, but this seems to me to be a stretch. This formula may hold true for others, but never for Jesus. All Jesus' sayings were inspired!
  6. BAGD92.
  7. BAGD160-162.

Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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