A couple of
Sundays ago in our small group study, we looked at some of
the unique traits found in Luke's gospel.
It introduces different parables.
It stresses that the Gospel for all: outcasts, women,
It is the most comprehensive gospel.
It shows how Jesus can transform social
It stresses the Holy Spirit, prayer, and helping others.
One other trait is its emphasis on joy and rejoicing;
these words are used about 20 times.
Someone made this good comment about joy: “Joy is
not easy to describe to those who only know happiness in
is the good feeling you have when you get what you want.
Happiness is short-lived and leaves when the
circumstances in life change. ... There is no secret to
The Bible reveals joy as a fruit of God’s Spirit.
In other words, joy is the result of God’s Spirit
working in our lives to guide our thinking, our actions, and
As we live according to God’s guidance, the fruit of
joy grows in our lives.
So joy does not come by accident, but by obedience to
This morning we want to look at ten reasons for rejoicing
found in Luke's Gospel.
all, rejoice because God hears our prayers!
This was the case with Zacharias.
Notice what is said in 1:13-14: “But the angel
said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer
is heard; and you wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and
you shall call his name John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will
rejoice at his birth.’”
Since Zacharias was praying in a public setting, he
was probably asking God for Israel's redemption.
That prayer would be answered through answering a
previous request—that of a son.
Verse 7 tells us this couple was advanced in years,
and it would take a miracle for them to have child.
Surely, Zacharias had requested many times that God
would allow them to have a son.
Now God was ready to fulfill both of Zacharias'
would certainly be a joyful occasion for this couple, and
for many of their neighbors too.
God is about to be gracious b y providing Israel's
redemption through the long-awaited Messiah and His herald,
who were Jesus and John.
How long had Zacharias prayed for a son and for
Probably for decades.
Jesus urges us to be persistent in prayer too (Luke
18:7). Here's an
interesting experiment that you can do.
Keep a record of your prayers, and then keep a record
of how God responds to them. You might discover God has some
very interesting ways of answering your requests!
Rejoice because God does hear our prayers!
Secondly, rejoice because God uses ordinary people to
promote His will!
This was what God did in using Mary to bring His
divine Son into the world.
Notice the words of her song in 1:46-48: “And Mary
said: 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has
rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly estate of His
behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed.’”
In this song, we see Mary's joy, reverence, and
is contemplating God's wonderful mercy, and His choosing to
use her, one no higher in status than a slave, to carry out
His will to bring the Messiah into the world.
Her “prophecy that all generations would call her
'blessed' was a true one, and it shows that she fully
realized the world-shaking import of what God was going to
do through her” (Coffman)!
Isn't it wonderful how God throughout history has
used ordinary people to promote His will?
In the New Testament, we see how uses ordinary men
like Andrew, Philip, Barnabas, Epaphras, and Philemon to
promote His will.
Even in our own day, God worked mightily through
ordinary people; David Lipscomb, George Benson, Ira North,
Ivan Stewart, Otis Gatewood, Jimmy Lovell, and Bob Hare were
men through whom God worked to advance His kingdom!
God can use you too if you will allow Him to do so.
Rejoice because God uses ordinary people to promote
because God provides a Savior!
This was the angel's good news found in
2:10-11: “Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid,
for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will
be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of
David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”
For centuries, the prophets of the Old Testament had
been foretelling about a Messiah to come that would
establish a kingdom and bring freedom to the Jews.
The angel announces that he is bringing some good
news which will bring great joy to all people in the world!
That good news is that the long-awaited Savior,
Messiah, and Ruler has come into this world!
Savior means the Liberator, Who frees mankind from
the bondage to sin!
Messiah means the Promised King, Who would establish
the long-awaited kingdom of God that would endure.
And Lord means the Supreme Ruler (in fact, this was
the term used for God in the Old Testament)!
God was fulfilling His plan to reconcile the world
back to Himself and to restore the fellowship that had been
lost in Eden.
The Word made flesh had finally entered into history!
Jesus of Nazareth is that Savior, Messiah, and
The apostle Peter affirms in Acts 4:12: “Nor is there
salvation in any other, for there is no other name under
heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
It is now up to each person to decide if they will
allow Jesus to save, to rule, and to reconcile their lives.
Rejoice because God provides you and all others too a
Next, rejoice because
God knows your name!
In chapter 10, Luke explains how Jesus sent out 70 of
His disciples in pairs to work in cities before His arrival.
In verse 17, these men return to Jesus with joy
because they have been able to cast out demons in Jesus'
makes an interesting response to them in verse 20:
“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are
subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are
written in heaven.” The apostle John writes in
Revelation 3:5: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in
white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the
Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father
and before His angels.”
Revelation 20:15 states: “And anyone not found
written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
From these passages, we see: that Christians’ names
are written in the Book of Life; that names can be blotted
out if one proves to be unfaithful; and that those whose
names are not written there will not be saved but condemned
to experience God’s eternal wrath!
Isn’t it amazing that the God of the universe knows
each of us by name!
We noticed in our study of Mark this past week what
an angel told the women who came to Jesus’ tomb in Mark
16:7: “But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is
going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as he
said to you.” Did
you catch what was said?
“The disciples—and Peter.”
Yes, God wanted to Peter to know personally that even
though he had denied Jesus, he was not out of the ballgame
yet! Don’t you
know these words must have been a great comfort to Peter!
And that same God, who knew Peter and his
shortcomings, gives grace to us to keep our names in His
book until the Judgment!
Rejoice because God knows your name and preserves it!
because God reveals His will.
After telling the disciples that their names are
written in heaven, then notice what verses 21 and 24 state:
“In that hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these
things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to
babes.’ ... Blessed are the eyes which see the things you
see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings have
desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to
hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”
It is interesting to see here when Jesus rejoiced
under the Spirit's guidance, He immediately began to pray
aloud. He was
thankful that God had not revealed His power to the proud
religious leaders of His day but to His humble disciples who
were ordinary men.
The miracles they were performing show Jesus' power
Previous generations had prophets and kings who had been
told there would be time when the Messiah would manifest His
powers over evil, but they had only heard that such a King
was to come.
These 70 disciples were experiencing firsthand the
fulfillment of the prophecies made in previous generations.
They had been privileged to know Jesus and His powers
firsthand! In a
similar way, we have been privileged to know God's
revelation and will through a translation of the documents
written by the apostles which are in our Bibles!
We to have been privileged to know things that
previous generations could only anticipate!
We owe a great debt to men like John Wycliffe (1382)
and William Tyndale (1525) who dedicated their lives to
learning the original languages and translating the
Scriptures into English.
Tyndale once said: “An English plough boy with the
Bible knows more than a Pope without the Bible.”
Rejoice and be thankful that we can look into the
pages of our Bible to discover God’s will for our lives!
God has not left us in the dark to grope and to
stumble. No, God
has given us His Son as the final revelation of His will and
He has given us His Word in our own language to serve as a
light to our path.
Rejoice because God reveals His will to ordinary
because God defeats Satan!
In chapter 13:10, there was woman who came to the
synagogue that had been bent over for 18 years.
Jesus healed her, and the ruler of the synagogue
became very upset and he told the people not to come to be
healed on the Sabbath day.
Now notice what Jesus says and how the crowd
responses in verse 15: “‘Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox
or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound—think of it—for 18 years, be loosed
from this bond on the Sabbath?’
And when He said these things, all His adversaries
were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all
the glorious things that were done by Him.”
Luke presents Jesus as the compassionate Lord, and
this incident certainly stresses that theme.
What a contrast is drawn here!
“We must keep the letter of the law!
Come on the other days to be healed!”
Now Jesus knew that the rabbis cared for animals.
You could not draw or carry water to an animal on the
Sabbath, but you could lead them to a trough to get some.
Jesus says in essence: “Now if you gentlemen can
loose an animal to get some water on a Sabbath day, this
dear woman who has been bound so many years, must be loosed
from Satan this fine Sabbath day!”
In Jesus’ culture, loosing one’s honor was a great
opponents were shamed, but the crowds rejoiced as they saw
Jesus acting with such merciful compassion and righteous
justice. He had
truly understood the spirit of the law, hadn’t He?
Someone else notes: “The people rejoiced at all the
things Jesus was doing.
This is a pattern in Luke and in Acts—the success of
Jesus and His [followers] versus the failure of the
opponents” (Summer quoted by Coffman).
In this incident, we see that health wins over
sickness, good triumphs over evil, and God defeats Satan!
So often, the critics of Christianity always want to
throw up all the injustices in the world and then ask,
“Where is God?”
Why don’t they throw up all the good things and justices and
affirm: “There is a God!”
You see, so often we focus on the tragedies and
overlook the triumphs.
The news media will report a plane crash, but it
never tells how many safe landings there were before the
one time the good news got reported!
Luke shows us that through Jesus, God defeats Satan,
and a woman who had been suffering for 18 years was
Someone made this observation: “We
are satisfied with will power instead of God’s power.
We limit ourselves to what science has discovered
instead of believing that God can do the impossible.
Let me encourage you to expect that God can do the
sinful habit is so entrenched, no financial problem is so
big, no relational strain is so difficult, that God cannot
help us overcome” (Chau).
Rejoice that God defeats Satan!
Next, rejoice because God welcomes the penitent!
We read the words of 15:9-10 early today of how a
woman had found a lost coin and then asked her neighbors to
rejoice with here, and Jesus followed that story by saying
there is joy among the angels when a sinner repents!
Now look at verses 31-32: “And he [the father]
said to him [the elder brother]: ‘Son, you are always with
me, and all I have is yours.
It was right that we should make merry and be glad,
for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost
and is found!’” Someone
noted that since the angels are interested in a person’s
salvation, then we ought to be interested as well (Coffman)!
Someone else made this good observation about the
second passage: “Jesus does not go on to tell us whether the
elder son responded or not.
Nor does he say how the younger brother lived in
response to his father’s welcoming love.
In leaving these points unresolved, He throws out a
challenge to all his hearers, be they like the elder brother
or the younger. ... God’s love is a continuing challenge to
all our self-seeking” (Morris).
A loving father runs to welcome his younger penitent
son, and that same father pleads tenderly for an older
brother to welcome back his penitent brother as well.
There is one thing for certain that all Christians in
this assembly have in common—we all know the forgiveness of
a loving Heavenly Father!
We didn’t deserve it, and we didn’t earn it.
God, in His mercy, took us back in, forgave us,
encouraged us to make amends as best we could, and
admonished us to follow Jesus with more diligence and more
courage. What a
burden was lifted at our baptism or at our restoration!
Rejoice because God welcomes the penitent!
because God creates a new fellowship!
In Luke 24, a Stranger walks up to two of Jesus’
disciples and asks them what had been going on.
They tell Him how their Master, in whom they had put
their hopes that He might be Israel’s Redeemer, had recently
been crucified and buried (there’s that theme of redemption
that Zacharias had been praying for, but there are some more
bookends for the Gospel that we’ll see in moment).
Then they said how some women had reported that
angels told them that He was alive.
Then Jesus jumps in, gives them a lengthy explanation
of the Scriptures about the Messiah, and starts to leave.
They insist that He stay with them for supper.
So now we read these words in verses 30-32: “Now
it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He
took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened , and they knew Him; and
He vanished from their sight.
And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn
within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He
opened the Scriptures to us?’”
Someone entitled a sermon: “From Heartache to Heart
Burn!” In Luke’s
gospel, it is very interesting how he shows Jesus’ continual
rejection: first, He was rejected by those in the synagogue
in Nazareth (4:28-29); then, He was rejected outside
Jerusalem by the Pharisees (19:39-40); then, He was rejected
inside Jerusalem by the Sadducees, chief priests, and
scribes (22:2); then, He was rejected by the people
this point, we may wonder if there will ever be anyone who
will accept Jesus.
The first who do accept Him are these two disciples
who have their eyes opened as they have fellowship around a
has rightly noted: “There can hardly fail to be a deep
spiritual overtone in this to the effect that the Lord is
still known to His disciples in the breaking of the bread at
the Lord’s Supper, which continues to be in all ages the
great [unifier in fellowship of all those who are saved]”
fellowship today is known as the church.
Don’t reject Jesus any longer, but submit to Him in
baptism and let Him add you to His church, to the new
fellowship that He established.
Rejoice, we don’t have to go it alone, for God
creates a new fellowship!
Next, rejoice because God defeats death!
Jesus challenges His disciples in 24:38ff with these
words: “‘Behold, My hands and My feet, that it is I
Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as
you see I have.’
When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His
feet. But while
they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to
them, ‘Have you any food here?”’
Did you catch that
little expression: “they did not believe for joy and
Someone observed: “The disciples’ journey from deep despair
to such a pinnacle of rejoicing was not without some trauma”
death had been defeated, and there stood Jesus with the His
nail-scared hands and feet to prove it!
Someone has written this interesting poem: “Rejoice,
like a woman who holds her first baby would; our enemy death
will soon be gone for good!
Rejoice, like an man with cancer who has found a
cure; Christ Himself opened wide heaven’s door for sure!
Rejoice, like a man who walks away unharmed from a
wreck; the ship of immortality has Christ upon its deck!
Rejoice, as if all people were invited out to eat;
and then invite them, for eternity will be sweet” (adapted
from J. Bayly in Larson-Elshof)!
Death is painful, but death is not the final chapter!
Rejoice because God gives us the victory through
Jesus Christ our Lord; God defeats death!
because God works with us!
The closing verses of Luke exclaim: “And they [the
disciples] worshiped Him [Jesus] and returned to Jerusalem
with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising
and blessing God.
“The disciples’ sorrow over Jesus’ death had been totally
reversed” (Study Bible)!
This final parting was not one of grief, but one of
great joy! The
apostles knew that with Jesus’ ascension, He would be ruling
as the living Messiah by God’s right hand (as Mark gospel
reminds us). And
we know that this is not the end of the story, don’t we?
One commentator puts it this way: “The book comes to
a close, but not to an ending.
The promise of power from above had not been
fulfilled, so that the reader knows a great chapter remains
to be written, and is well prepared for Acts 1 and the
mighty deeds which that book records” (Ash).
They are praising God, and God in a few days begins
working with them to help them take His message of
forgiveness and eternal life all over the Roman Empire.
We are not alone either as we try to share our faith.
God can open doors for us, just as He opened doors
for the apostles and Paul.
Macedonian calls are still being made today.
The fields are still white unto harvest.
Our requests for Bible Correspondence Courses are now
up to almost 35!
Rejoice because God works with us!
made this good observation about Luke's Gospel: “Luke's is a
singing gospel. ... The verb 'rejoice' occurs more often in
Luke than in any other New Testament book ... This gospel
finishes as it had began, with rejoicing” (Morris).
There’s the other bookends.
What a wonderful God we serve!
We can be joyful because He has enriched us with
tremendous spiritual blessings; He knows us, and welcomes
us, and continues to work with us!
He has given His Son so that our sins might be
forgiven, and He has created the church so that we’ll have
support as we strive to put into practice His revealed will.
Like the old hymn says: “All things are ready.
Come to the feast!
Come, for the door is open wide; a place of honor is
reserved for you at our Master’s side!”
Rejoice, like Mary, that God can use ordinary people,
and rejoice, like the angels in heaven, that God welcomes
“Hear the invitation, come whosoever will!”