At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said,...The phrase "full of joy" comes from the Greek word ἀγαλλιάω (agalliaō). This word means "to exult, rejoice exceedingly, be exceeding glad" according to the lexicon.
In other words, Jesus was very pleased as he said this. Why?
Jesus' disciples spread the Word
Quite obviously from the verses before this, it is because Jesus' 72 disciples had returned from their preaching mission with good news. They were heard by others. Jesus' teachings had been communicated to others and this made him pleased.
This is the sign of love. You see, Jesus was not on a power trip. It wasn't as if he had to be the big preacher. He had at least 72 students and disciples who were now passing on his teachings to others. This made him pleased because he loved not only his students, but he loves all of God's children and wants others to hear his teachings.
And Jesus' love for others reflects the Supreme Being's love for us.
In fact, Jesus' love for others relates directly to his love for the Supreme Being.
We can see this in Jesus' prayer to the Supreme Being. This is how Jesus expressed his joy: By praising God.
First, he says, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...."
The expression "I praise You" comes from the Greek word ἐξομολογέω (exomologeō), which not only means to praise or profess someone, but to do it joyfully.
In fact, we find that praising God is recommended throughout the scriptures. Every prophet praised God and taught the importance of praising God. And David praises God in practically every Psalm.
And we know that praising God pleased Jesus. Here is the scene when Jesus walked down the road to Jerusalem:
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices... (Luke 19:37)So not only did Jesus praise God, but he taught his disciples to praise God. This is also reflected by what Jesus' disciples did after Jesus left them - the very last verse of Luke:
And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:53)So why is it so important to praise God? Why is this such an important teaching of the prophets and teaching of Jesus?
Because this is how we can connect with the Supreme Being. This is how we can establish a relationship with God.
Just consider how this is done between two people. What does a boy do when he wants to have a relationship with a girl? He compliments her. He might say, "that's a nice dress," or perhaps, "I like what you said in class."
He says this because it is universally accepted that praising someone helps us establish a relationship with them.
It is no different with the Supreme Being. In fact, these universal laws of relationships actually stem from the relationships between the Supreme Being and His children.
But we must understand the difference between a praise from the heart and a forced praise. The boy might praise the girl because he is trying to figure out a way to get closer to her. She will certainly realize this even if the compliment seems forced. If she is receptive to a relationship with the boy she will respond positively because she knows the intention of the praise.
It is the same with the Supreme Being. When we are beginning our path towards re-establishing our relationship with the Supreme Being we might praise God somewhat mechanically. But if we are sincerely doing this, He sees that we are doing this because we want to have a relationship with Him. We want to come to know God and come to love Him. He sees this and reciprocates. This is how we come to know the Supreme Being - as we become ready, He shows us more and more of Himself.
This, by the way, is the purpose of the ancient teaching - calling out and reciting the Holy Name of God - praising God - has been passed on from ancient times through the prophets all the way from Abraham through Jesus and Jesus' students. (Again, we can see the evidence here.)
This ancient teaching is not taught by sectarian teachers today. They sometimes mention the phrase "praise God" because it is mentioned so many times in the scriptures. But they do not teach their followers to praise God in a focused way. Why? Because they are not passing on the instructions given by these great teachers.
Here in Jesus' statement, we see that praising God can take on another whole dimension: Spontaneous praise of God out of love.
We also see how this works in other types of relationships. When a person sincerely cares about the other person and praises that person as an expression of their love.
A loving parent, for example, might joyfully praise her child when the child walks for the first time. This kind of praise comes when there is already a relationship of love.
This type of praise - out of love - is where Jesus is coming from. He already enjoys a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. So as he became happy that his disciples are spreading his teachings - his teachings about love for God - he expresses that joy with loving praise to the Supreme Being.
So what about the rest of Jesus' prayer of praise?
"...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."Actually, there is a slight mistranslation here. The phrase "little children" is not a fair translation. Jesus is not speaking of "little children" here - that would be out of context with the situation. Jesus is speaking about his students - and the fact that his students have understood his teachings. They have understood them while those "wise and learned" ecclesiastical Jewish priests did not understand the Truth, even though they had access to the scriptures.
The phrase "little children" is being translated from the Greek word νήπιος (nēpios), which can mean "infant" or "little child" when spoken of literally, but when used metaphorically (which is how Jesus was obviously using it) it means "untaught, unskilled" according to the lexicon. It thus also relates to humility.
So Jesus was referring to the fact that his students were humble, simple, and not trained by the ecclesiastical Jewish schools to be scholars, as the Jewish priests were. They had seriously heard the teachings of Jesus and had been empowered by God.
This is how God passes on the Truth. He uses those who humbly submit to Him. He typically doesn't utilize those who consider themselves scholars - especially those who are proud of their scholarship. In fact, it is this very issue - pride - that prevents us from sincerely approaching God. And it is pride that keeps the Supreme Being hidden from our consciousness.
He also does not utilize or show Himself to those who seek to profit from His teachings. Those who pay to go to seminary college and then seek to earn a living from preaching are not eligible to be empowered and thus be able to pass on His Truth.
Only those who wish to serve Him without any promise of reward. Those who want to serve because they humbly want to please. They want to please their spiritual teacher, and they want to please the Supreme Being. There is actually no difference assuming the spiritual teacher is serving the Supreme Being. Because their will is the same - there is a oneness between God and His representative.
This is the case with Jesus' students. They simply wanted to please their spiritual teacher, Jesus, by going out and passing on his teachings to others.
And we can see here that Jesus' interest was in what pleased the Supreme Being:
"Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."Jesus wants to please the Supreme Being because Jesus loves God, and this is what a person does when they love someone. They want to please the one they love.
So Jesus is expressing his love for God and the fact that he is joyful that the activities of his students - in going out and passing on his teachings - pleased God. And just what were Jesus' teachings being passed on? They most certainly included his most important instruction:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)