A few weeks ago, I wrote about things that made Jesus mad. Today, I felt it was important to follow up with some of the things that made Jesus glad.
We can assume that if certain behaviors or attitudes were pleasing to Jesus while he was here as a man, they still please him when he looks upon us as our resurrected Savior. These are some of the experiences recorded in Scripture that put a smile on his face and joy in his heart:
Faith. As much as Jesus could get aggravated with people when they succumbed to fear, he delighted when they showed bold faith. The centurion who believed in Jesus’ power to heal his servant from a distance by simply saying a word is a wonderful example (Matt. 8:5-10). He told Thomas the doubter, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Jesus seems to get really jazzed when we walk by faith in the miraculous, and don’t rely only on our physical senses to define reality.
Generosity. Jesus commended the elderly widow who put her last coins in the offering, because he knew that her sacrificial giving brought not merely the praise of men, but the rewards of heaven (Mk. 12:41-44). Jesus was happy when people were willing to give anything and everything away to become true followers of his way of life. And he taught the best thing to do with worldly wealth is to give it to those who are in need. This brings freedom from attachment to the world, and freedom brings joy.
True Worship. Hear these words to Simon, the self-righteous Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner in his home, as a sinful woman poured out her worship at his feet:
“He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Lk. 7:44-46).
Jesus said that this woman’s deed would be spoken of wherever the gospel was preached, until the end of time. I’d say he was pretty happy and impressed with her unbridled devotion! He says the Father is looking for true worshipers, those who worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Childlike innocence. Jesus did not select wise, learned men to be his closest disciples. He chose fishermen, tax collectors, ordinary working-class men and women. How he rejoiced in the Father’s plan to reveal the greatest mysteries to those with the faith of children (Matt 11:25-26)! Why did Jesus say that we have to become like children to enter the kingdom? I believe it is because he saw children as innocent and simple, with hearts not yet hardened by the sin or wickedness of the world. I can picture Jesus beckoning to the children to come sit in his lap so he could bless them; how could he not find joy in their company? Likewise, he rejoices when we come to him with this simplicity of heart.
Obedience to his teaching. Jesus was deeply knowledgeable of the Scriptures from his youth, and quoted Scripture constantly—the Torah, the prophets, and the writings. He knew them inside and out and insisted on their proper, Spirit-led interpretation. Jesus praised people and rejoiced when they responded in obedience to his revelations of truth. A pastor friend of mine likes to say, “Obedience is God’s love language.” Jesus still says, “Come, learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
Being true to ourselves. You may remember the scene in Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell acknowledged that God had called him as a missionary, but said, “God also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Each disciple of Jesus had (and has) a distinct identity and calling in him. Our mission in life is to find the thing he has created and equipped us to do and get busy doing it. Jesus told Peter not to be preoccupied with someone else’s assignment or destiny. He said simply, “You must follow me” (John 21:22).
Follow him into the unknown. Follow him in faith and generosity and worship. Follow him in service to others. Follow him carrying the gifts he’s given you. Follow him innocently and trustingly.
Be the best you. This makes Jesus glad.