Tuesday, March 18, 2014

chain reaction

The Word for today:
Luke 10:13-24
We always see pictures of Jesus smiling. I'm glad we do. I hope the pictures are right. But the Bible, for the most part, paints a different picture.
We have before us today the only documented instance of a joyful Jesus:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"
And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
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. (Luke 10:17-21)
It's hard to pin down Jesus' demeanor, but it's fun to wonder about him. I come back to this passage often, when I want to see him happy.
There are hints that he was very happy on other occasions, but we can't say for sure. Children gathered 'round him willingly, and it's unlikely that they would respond positively to a doleful man. There had to be an ironic twinkle in his eye when he told about one blind man leading another blind man until both fell in the ditch; when he described the preposterous picture of a man with a big log in his eye trying to find a speck in another person's eye; and when he told how we are prone to straining a gnat but swallowing a camel!
Jesus' quick repartee with the Syro-Phoenician woman who interrupted his meal (Mark 7) makes little sense unless we can hear a playful, jousting tone behind the words.
Probably my favorite instance of Jesus' sly-but-encouraging humor occurs toward the end of his ministry, when he renamed the notoriously unstable Simon with a nickname which would translate today to "Rocky." At the time it was like nicknaming a fat guy "Slim." That one kills me!
But the only documented instance of his full-fledged joy is found right here in Luke 10.
In one of the truly lovely verses of the Old Testament, the prophet Zephaniah had a revelation of God's future joy over a redeemed Israel in the Millennial Kingdom:
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Hebrews (12:2) says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) had a future joy--knowing the redemption that his death on the cross would purchase.
But what about today? Well, today is the future spoken about in Hebrews 12:2. He endured the cross by thinking about you, today--about your trust in him, and your new life, and your gratitude, and your praises, and--here's the key--your joy!
When the seventy disciples returned, their joy prompted his joy.  So whenever you want to see Jesus happy, you can come back here to Luke 10 and read about it--or you can close your Bible, look way up in the sky and tell him he's made you happy.
That, we've seen, is what makes him happy, which makes you happy, which makes him happy--which gets joy going round and round in dizzying circles, like a puppy chasing his tail…
So go ahead. Tell him how he's made you happy. Let the chase begin!

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