New Testament,  Theology

What Makes Jesus Happy?

photo of happy balloons

Happiness is often thought of as the chief goal in life. Thus, many people assume that, as a perfect human, Jesus must have been a very happy individual. However, I don’t see Jesus being happy very often in Scripture. In fact, I can only identify two times in the gospels where Jesus is described as happy. One of those times is in John 11:15 where Jesus is happy that he was not there to save Lazarus, so that the disciples would see God’s power displayed through Jesus. The other time Jesus is happy is described in Luke 10:21,

At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

If we want to understand what makes Jesus happy, I would say Luke 10:21 is an important passage. There are three important questions that must be answered from this passage. (1) Who are the wise and intelligent? (2) What is hidden from the wise and intelligent? (3) Why does this make Jesus happy?

Who are the wise and intelligent?

It is not inherently wrong to be wise and intelligent. Proverbs speaks very highly about the pursuit of wisdom (cf. Prov 4:7). Further, in Matthew 22:34 Jesus says that He will send wise men along with prophets to preach to the Jewish nation, but they will be scourged and killed. In the Old Testament, Daniel was himself renowned for his wisdom. Therefore, being wise and intelligent is not inherently wrong. In fact, wisdom and maturity are commanded of the believer (cf. 1 Cor 14:20).

However, the wise and intelligent in Luke 10:21 are only wise and intelligent by the world’s standard. In this context, it certainly applies to the Jewish scribes and Pharisees, individuals who were esteemed because of their learning and knowledge of the Law.

Later, Paul would use a similar argument in 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 where he states that the wisdom of the Jew and the Gentile fails in comparison with the wisdom of God. So, what makes Jesus happy in this context is that those who are wise wise and intelligent by the world’s standard are unable to find something that is hidden.

What is hidden from the wise and intelligent?

Jesus is happy because something is hidden, but what is hidden in verse 21? Luke 10:22 Jesus answers this question. The true identity of Jesus is what is hidden from those who are wise and intelligent. Coming to Jesus and the Father is not something that human intellect or wisdom can achieve.

This is similar to Jesus’ statement in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Coming to Jesus is only possible through the sovereign work of God. One cannot come to Jesus through his own initiative or will. This makes Jesus happy!

Why does this make Jesus happy?

Why does this make Jesus happy? I think he is happy because the glory and credit go exactly where they should—not to human effort or achievement but to a sovereign God who opens the eyes of blind men.

Growing up I loved to boast in my accomplishments. My mother always told me, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” I don’t think I learned that lesson yet, but Luke 10:21 is another reminder that we have no basis for pride in our relationship to God. The Bible is clear that the gospel message is hard to receive (cf. 1 Cor 1:18).

Nobody would ever embrace the gospel and submit their life to Christ unless God opened their eyes (cf. John 6:44). Human wisdom and intellect are not the means of our salvation, God’s sovereign love is. Therefore we say with Paul, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31).

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He is a husband, father, and sports enthusiast.

7 Comments

  • Mark Loftus

    Peter,
    Just came across your blog this morning. Enjoyed your thoughts on “What Makes Jesus Happy?” and the discussion on the origins of Hebrew. Your presentation on dispensationalism was also enlightening.
    Is it possible that God instructed Moses on the Hebrew alphabet when He gave Moses the 10 commandments. Could it have been the first alphabetic language? Your thoughts?
    I am a Christ follower who came to Christ while selling Bibles in Tennessee during college.
    I teach public high school and am the advisor for “Transformed Bible Club” at that school. God also provided an opportunity to lead children’s ministry at our church in northern California. Thanks for all you do to illuminate scripture.
    Mark

    • Peter Goeman

      Hi Mark,

      It is an interesting thought, but it seems we have alphabetic evidence from other languages which would predate Moses (15-16th century BC). So I don’t think the 10 Commandments could be when the Hebrew alphabet was given by God. That doesn’t seem to coincide with the evidence. But I think it is worth thinking about! Thanks for reading, and I hope some of the other articles encourage you as well.

    • Peter Goeman

      I don’t think I would make many changes from what is listed above, although the NIV may be a bit more readable: “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 is what you were pleased to do.” This seems to carry the straightforward meaning. Hope that helps! Thanks for the question.

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