Jesus was almost euphoric.
The most joy-filled outburst recorded in the life of Christ comes in Luke 10.
Jesus sends out 72 of his followers to preach and heal, to serve sinners in word and deed. As they hustle off in every direction, Jesus turns to lament the unbelief of so many sinners who refused to trust in him. In stark contrast, the 72 go out and see magnificent spectacles unfold before their eyes as they wield the power of Christ over demons. They soon return to Jesus, breathless, amazed by their power over evil.
But Jesus is careful to redirect their enthusiasm to higher realities: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke [10:20]).
Minutes later, with a heart overflowing with gratitude, Jesus turns his exuberance into God-ward thanks.
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.” (Luke [10:21]–22)
Puritan David Clarkson puts all this together and explains it like this: “We find Christ in an ecstasy, almost transported with joy. His spirit leaped within him, and as though he had been rapt into heaven, adds praises, his joy breaks forth into thanks. But what is the occasion of both? Not that the devils were subject through his name, but that it pleased the Father to make known the mysteries of salvation to despised men. Christ seemed to make man, of all earthly things, his chief joy on earth; this was it which revived him, joyed his heart in the midst of his sorrows and sufferings, that man should be thereby made happy.”
God’s sovereign plan to redeem sinners, and to fill them with joy, fills Jesus with joy. All of this intertwined joy was designed by God to work like this.
As far as I can tell, this is as manifestly happy as Jesus gets in the gospels, and his joy has everything to do with unconditional election. The eyes of depraved sinners are being opened to the glory of the Father and Son — whomever Christ chooses to reveal himself. Election works as planned, it was working, and Jesus is thrilled!
Luke 10 gives us a unique glimpse into how Christ prized election, and how it fueled his joy. But the harsh reality is that election hinges on the atonement of Christ. Jesus knew it. He must shed his blood if God’s plan of election would ultimately work.
Shed blood secures sovereign joy.
Seven Reasons To Be Confident Your Eternal Joy Has Arrived in Christ
First, Christ’s death proved definitely sufficient. When Roman soldiers hammer-drilled spikes into the wrists of Christ, and lifted him up in the air, he died a death that would prove sufficient to pay for every sin of the entire world, sufficient to save everyone on planet earth. Nothing lacks in that death or in his coming resurrection. In this sense, it is infinite.
Unless you’re a universalist, the all-sufficient atonement of Christ is only applied to the elect — to those who truly come to faith. So powerful is Christ’s atonement, so real is his election, that the redemption-accomplishing blood of Christ can be explained in application without any reference to human repentance or faith (like in Titus 3:5–6). Human repentance and faith are essential, as we’ll see, but the plan of salvation does not hinge on human effort; it makes it happen. Salvation hinges on Christ’s death for the elect.
Second, Christ’s death secures salvation. The cross does not open a door of salvation that was previously locked. The cross is not merely an open invitation to sinners. The cross did not merely make salvation possible. The cross did not secure empty chairs in an auditorium of the redeemed, chairs claimed effectively by anyone who decides to come to Christ.
No. Christ’s death secured salvation for the elect, individually as specific as your name, and as comprehensively as the Bride of Christ. Christ achievedredemption for all the elect, a point John Piper well explains:
If we want to go deeper in our experience of God’s grace this is an ocean of love for us to enjoy. God does not mean for the bride of his Son to only feel loved with general, world-embracing love. He means for her to feel ravished with the specificity of his affection that he set on her before the world existed. He means for us to feel a focused: “I chose you. And I send my Son to die to have you.”
This is what we offer the world. We don’t horde it for ourselves. And we don’t abandon it by saying, all we have to offer the world is God’s general love for all people. No, we offer this. We offer a full and complete and definite atonement. We offer Christ. We don’t say, come to a possibility. We say, come to Christ. Receive Christ. And what we promise them if they come is that they will be united to him and his bride. And all that he bought for his bride will be theirs. All that he secured with absolute certainty will be their portion forever.
Written by Tony Reinke
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