HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Let’s begin with the phrase “good pleasure.” It is a verb in Greek: “to be a pleasure” or “to be pleased by.” You could translate it: “it pleased God,” or, “God chose it gladly.” One of the best places to see the meaning of the word is in Philippians where the noun form of the word is put over against its opposite.
Preaching the Gospel from “Good Will”
In Philippians, you recall, Paul is in prison in Rome. There are professing Christians who do not like Paul and there are Christians who do. Both of them begin to preach the gospel while Paul is in prison. But their motives are very different. In Philippians 1:15 Paul says, “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill”—or we could say, “from good pleasure.”
The word “goodwill” is the word we are concerned with. What is he saying? He is saying: both groups are preaching, but one group is being driven to preach not because they love Paul or because they love the preaching of the gospel, but because they hope to increase Paul’s affliction. But the other group is preaching because they really love to preach the gospel and because they love Paul. They are doing what they really love to do. It is out of “goodwill.” It’s out of gladness. It is their good pleasure to preach. Their heart is not divided. Preaching is not a cloak for envy or rivalry. It is a real delight.
God’s Free and Joyful Act
Now that is what Jesus means in Luke 12:32 when he says, “It is God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In other words, God is not acting in this generous way in order to cloak and hide some malicious motive. The word “good pleasure” utterly rules that out. He is not saying inside, “I will have to be generous for a while even though I don’t want to be because what I really want to do is bring judgment on sinners.”
The Lord’s meaning is inescapable: God is acting here in freedom. He is not under constraint to do what he doesn’t really want to do. At this very point, when he gives his flock the kingdom, he is acting out his deepest delight. This is what the word means: God’s joy, his desire, his want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight is to give the kingdom to his flock.
“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure—not his duty, not his necessity, not his obligation, but his pleasure—to give you the kingdom.” That is the kind of God he is.
Second, let’s look at the phrase “your Father.” “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus does not say, “It is your employer’s good pleasure to give you your salary.” He does not say, “It is your slave master’s good pleasure to give you your lodging.” He does not even say, “It is your King’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He chooses every word in this sentence to help us get rid of the fear that God is ill-disposed to us—that he is begrudging in his generosity, or constrained in his kindness. So he calls God “your Father”.
Now, not all of us have had fathers who patterned their lives after God. And so the word “father” may not be full of peace the way Jesus means it to be. So let me try to fill the word “Father” with some of the meaning Jesus intended it to carry for you this morning. Two things: