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Inter-Trinitarian Joy, and the Joy of Knowing and Loving God

Dave Jenkins is the Director of Servants of Grace Ministries. He earned his M.A.R. and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is happily married to his wife Sarah and lives in Caldwell, Idaho where he enjoys spending time with family and playing golf.

 

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Inter-Trinitarian Joy

Luke 10:21-22 – “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. 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.”

The greatest joy of all is the joy that God the Son has in God the Spirit and God the Father. The word that Luke uses for rejoicing in this passage is more intense than any other word for joy including the other terms he has used in Luke 10. The Greek word agalliao is a word for exuberant ecstasy meaning complete exultation in the fullness of joy.

Jesus rejoices to see Satan defeated and to give the free gift of eternal life. Here was an even greater joy because it took place within the triune being of God, who exists eternally as one God in three persons. By its very nature, the joy of Jesus is greater than any joy that we could ever experience. Jesus is the God the Son, so His joy is a divine rejoicing. It is a perfect joy, unspoiled, and undiminished by sin. Here His joy is especially intense because He is rejoicing in the revelation of the Holy Spirit and in the secret, saving work of His Father. Luke is showing us the joy at the heart of the universe – the rejoicing that takes place within the Godhead, where God is both the subject and the object of His own joy.

The Father, Son and the Spirit glory in one another. When Jesus was baptized in Luke 3:22 and again when He was transfigured in Luke 9:35 we see the pleasures that the Father takes in His own beloved Son. Jesus rejoices in the Spirit and the Father, and as He rejoices we catch a glimpse of God glorifying and enjoying Himself. There can be no greater joy than this: the eternal joy that God Himself enjoys in the being of God. Jesus was so overwhelmed with the triune joy that in a spontaneous outburst He rejoiced out loud. He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit finding His enjoyment in the Third person of the Trinity. He also rejoiced in the Father, praising him for his supreme greatness over heaven and earth.

The Glory of God in Salvation

Many people would be surprised at the occasion for this joy. Luke 10:21-22 gives the reason for this rejoicing. Jesus was rejoicing over the sovereignty of God in salvation, over the doctrine of election, over the fact that God reveals the truth of salvation only to His own beloved children. People often consider the sovereignty of God’s grace to be a dark and difficult doctrine.

Why does God bring some people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ while others are left to perish for their sins? The Bible never gives us a full answer to this question except to say that God does it for His own glory. Far from treating this mystery as an occasion for anxiety the Bible presents it as a comfort for the soul.

The doctrine of election, which proves God’s sovereignty in salvation, is a doctrine of joy. We find this on Christmas night with the angel singing “glory to God in the highest” and “bless the people who are in God’s pleasure” in Luke 2:14. We find it in Romans 9-11 where Paul’s exposition of election ends with a grand doxology of praise. We find it in Ephesians 1, where the fact that God has chosen us in Christ is celebrated with high praise to God. We also find it here in Luke 10, where God’s sovereignty in salvation brings joy to the very Godhead.

Jesus rejoices in the Father’s gracious will to reveal salvation to some but not to others. To be specific, God has hidden the secrets of His Gospel from people who think that they are wise and revealed them instead to little children. In other words, He reveals to people who know that they do not know everything and who therefore come to Him in simple, childlike faith. When Jesus spoke about the wise and understanding He may have been referring ironically to members of the religious establishment like the Pharisees and Sadducees theological know-it-all who refused to believe that He was the Christ. When Jesus spoke of little children, He was referring to ordinary disciples who for all their weakness were learning to follow Him in faith and obedience. Jesus is not praising ignorance but humility.

Searching Our Hearts

The contrast here in Luke 10 is not between educated and uneducated but between those who imagine themselves to be wise and sensible and want to test the Gospel truths by their own intellects, and to pronounce judgment according to their self-formed ideas. Those who live under the profound impression that by their own insight and their own reasoning demonstrate they are utterly powerless to understand the truths of God and to accept them.

Which two of these categories describes your own attitude toward Christ? Are you still trying to evaluate Christianity according to your own belief system or are you ready to learn what God wants to teach you? If in our arrogance we insist that God wants to meet our own intellectual standards, we will never be saved.

The mystery of God’s person, His mind, His heart, and His salvation are infinitely too exalted and wonderful to be penetrated and understood simply by submitting them to a sufficiently powerful intellectual analysis. By God’s own choice and decree they remain hidden from the wise. By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit plainly reveals these same profound mysteries to humble sinner who come to God with nothing except their need for him. God is not an intellectual elitist.

There is no minimum IQ for membership in the family of God. The Gospel is not restricted to people who are smart enough to understand it. All we need is a teachable spirit and a childlike trust in Jesus. Giving God’s grace to the humble is one of God’s greatest joys.

In Luke 10:21, Jesus had rejoiced in the revelation of the Father; here in Luke 10:22, He rejoices in His own revelation as the Son. It is all interconnected. Jesus Christ is God the Son. Therefore everything that belongs to the Father – such as His sovereign power and divine authority – also belongs to the Son. When Jesus said that the Father had given Him all things, He was making the strongest possible claim to His own deity. All things belong to Jesus Christ the Son of God. Not a single atomic particle in the entire universe is outside His supreme Lordship. Due to His divine identity, the Son has perfectly knowledge of the Father, in the same way that the Father has perfect knowledge of the Son.

The Father and the Son share mutual intimacy with the Spirit in the fellowship of their triune being. Only God can know God perfectly and therefore no one knows the Son as does the Father, or the Father as does the Son. We ourselves are able to have fellowship with the triune God. By the grace of the Father, according to the will of the Son, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, the Christian knows the living God. It is the work of the Son to bring us into fellowship with the Father and Jesus rejoices that this is so. God the Son came into the world so that we could enter His joy, the joy of knowing and loving God. As the Son of the Father, He enjoyed unique knowledge of the intimate relationship that lies at the heart of the Godhead, and with that unique knowledge the unique privilege of communicating it to whomever He pleased.

The Joy of Salvation

Luke 10:23-24 – “Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 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.”

Jesus ends this conversation with a blessing that came from a heart full of joy – a blessing that must have made His disciples joy complete in Luke 10:23-24. This joyous benediction is in keeping with what Jesus already said about the secrets of salvation belonging only to God. The Father and the Son have exclusive, mutual, intimate fellowship within their triune being. According to the Father’s gracious will, by His own sovereign choice and through the revealing work of the Holy Spirit, the Son invited His disciples – and His disciples alone – to share in their fellowship. Theirs was the high privilege of knowing the Father and the Son, with the Spirit.

To make sure they understood what a great privilege this was, Jesus referred to all the men who desperately wanted to have this knowledge but never lived to that day. He was referring explicitly to the prophets and kings of the Old Testament who prayed for the coming of the Christ. How these men longed to see the promise of the ages fulfilled in the long awaited Messiah! Imagine what Jeremiah would have given to see the righteous branch raised up from David described in Jeremiah 23:5. Or Isaiah to see the son conceived to the virgin described in Isaiah 7:14. Or Micah to see the baby born in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2.

Imagine what David would have given to see his God-forsaken Savior poured out like water or laid in the dust of death. Or Isaiah to see the Suffering Servant wounded for his transgressions and buried in a rich man’s tomb. Imagine what Job would have given to see his risen Redeemer standing on the earth. With a holy jealousy these mighty kings and faithful prophets longed to know the Christ as the disciples knew him. What a blessing it was for the twelve to see the ancient promises fulfilled in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. What a blessing and what a joy!

Only one thing could add to the disciples’ joy: our own believing response to the Gospel. The apostle John who had been with Jesus the day he rejoiced in the Spirit wrote about this saving response in his first epistle. John began by testifying to the things he had heard with his own ears and seen with his own eyes – the Gospel realities that were the envy of prophets and kings. Then he celebrated the joy he had in knowing God. 1 John 1:3, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeedour fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  “

John’s joy was not yet complete. There was still one thing he had desired which was to join him by trusting in Jesus for our salvation. 1 John 1:3-4, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things sothat ourjoy may be complete.” The joy of the apostles is complete whenever we join their fellowship with the Father and the Son through Jesus Christ. Their joy becomes our own when we come to Christ. The ancient kings would have laid down their crowns, and the old-time prophets would have left behind their ministries to know Jesus the way we know Him in the Gospel: as our Savior from sin and our God forever.

What joy is ours! We have the great joy of having our names written in heaven and the still greater joy of knowing the Father, the Son and the Spirit in their rejoicing. No one is more greatly blessed than we are and therefore no one should live with greater joy.