Hi everyone. Rob here.
In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples and for us who will follow in their footsteps. He prays for divine protection; protection of their faith and their hearts. He then says this to his Father in verse 13:
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
Jesus wants to give us his joy. Back in chapter 15 of John Jesus tells his disciples this:
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. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Jesus is saying that when we love each other with a sacrificial love, the way he has loved us, his joy will be in us and be complete. And so the writer of Hebrews can write this in chapter 12:2, without irony, talking about Jesus:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
You can’t put those two things together, the cross and joy, until you realise that Jesus’ joy comes from loving us so much that he would give his life for us. Think about the people you would lay down your life for? Aren’t they the very same people who give you joy? As soon as my children were born I knew that I was willing to die for them. The joy of their existence was enough to motivate me to do that. Now the feeling of love comes and it goes, especially around drum practice time or too many requests for money, but the deep-down joy does not. In our own experiences we have gained a glimpse into the joy of Jesus. The joy of Jesus then, the joy of loving wholeheartedly, is an essential part of being human. It’s something that is returned to us through Jesus coming in the flesh.
He stirs up our longing for joy by teaching us of the reality of God’s kingdom. He invites us to put to death all the sins, burdens, and obstacles that hinder joy, and he overcomes death to show us that his joy is eternal and embodied. He ascends to heaven and pours out the Spirit so that he can live in us and bring us into his joy step by step, moment by moment in this world.
It’s not easy. The enemy is out to steal our joy as John Eldredge reminds us, but it is real. We belong to Jesus and his joy now belongs to us. May the eyes of our heart be opened. May we lay down all of our un-joy at the cross. May we receive the life of Jesus into our hearts and may his joy in us transform our lives in this world.
Grace and peace everyone.