Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Much Leaping

Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:16)
David was rejoicing before the Lord for the wonderful thing He had done in restoring the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. Now, joy is not quiet or still but demonstrable. You can tell when someone is rejoicing — it looks like something. In this case, it looked like leaping and whirling.

One of the Greek words for “rejoice” in the New Testament is agalliao. It comes from two words: agan, much, and hallio, to leap, to jump, to spring up or gush like water. Literally, agalliao means to “jump for joy.” It is an expression of joy with much leaping.

In Mary, pregnant with Jesus, this joy revealed itself as a marvelous song, known as the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced [agalliao] in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). It was her spirit that was leaping for joy, just as John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44), but it emerged in exuberant song.

When the Seventy disciples returned from the mission of healing diseases, casting out demons and announcing the kingdom, Jesus “rejoiced [agalliao] in the Spirit” (Luke 10:21). It was supernatural, Holy Spirit joy at work in His human spirit. He was jumping for joy on the inside, but it manifest somehow on the outside and looked like something — that is how Luke was able to tell us about it.

When the Philippian jailer believed the good news from Paul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31), he was full of this leaping joy. “Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced [agalliao], having believed in God with all his household” (v. 34). His whole life had been changed and he now had a wonderful future, and so did the rest of his house, because they believed also. Imagine him in a wild state of excitement as he offered Paul and Silas, who brought him this wonderful message, the hospitality of his house. Joy was leaping inside of him and it showed up on the outside.

Like that jailer, all who receive Jesus the Messiah have much reason to leap for joy. The apostle Peter details some of it in his letter to scattered believers:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice [agalliao]. (1 Peter 1:3-6)
There is much power, wonder and grace packed into that paragraph, and when we understand it, it should leave us leaping for joy, in spirit if not in body. If it does not, then that is only an indication that we have not yet grasped what Peter is talking about.

There are a number of words, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament and in the Greek of the New, which speak of joy and rejoicing in a variety of ways. There is jumping for joy, shouting for joy, singing for joy, spinning for joy, and even “creaking” and squealing with delight. But there are none which speak of joy in terms of silence or stillness. It is the nature of joy to manifest somehow.

There is great joy to be had in Jesus the Messiah. How will you let yours show?

(See also The Divine Woo-hooooo! and The Fellowship of Drunken Glory)

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