We tend to think of joy as circumstantial, but Jesus wants us to think of joy as consequential. If we are dependent on our circumstances being “right” to experience joy, then most of our lives will be spent without much joy! However, if we understand joy to be a consequence of our relationship with our loving Father and the life that he is calling us to live, then even in difficult situations we can be full of joy.
On the evening before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion, Jesus had an extended conversation with his disciples. One theme running through that conversation is the joy that Jesus is trying to create in the lives of his disciples. It is important to notice that this conversation about joy happened in the shadow of the cross in order to keep from falling into some “pie in the sky” sentimentality that considers joy as simply a strategy to avoid all the tragedy in the world. Jesus was known as “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He knew that joy was not a placebo against sorrow, but was a greater reality behind the sorrow and grief of the world.
Jesus rooted the joy that he wants to give his disciples in the powerful love of God the Father. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11) The love of God is the most secure place in the universe. No matter what happens to you in life, if you are in the love of the Father, all will be well. Because we are mortals who will be given immortality by God, even our deaths are not the final word on our life and joy. Jesus surrendered to death and conquered it through his resurrection. That promise of life eternal is grounded in the love of God.
Jesus also promised his disciples joy in the middle of their grief. Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:20-22 NIV) Their grief was centered on the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, Their world completely fell apart and they did not know what to do with themselves. But on Sunday morning there were stories of Jesus alive again, resurrected! Grief turned to joy and joy turned to mission.
It is hard to imagine, especially in the middle of tragedy, how God will restore and redeem this fallen creation, yet that is the promise He gives us that he is working to make all things new. Jesus called it the “restoration of all things.” Paul reminds us, “For the
is not a matter of
eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”
God’s faithfulness is the source of our joy! kingdom
- Kenny Payne