Friday, March 30, 2007

Day Thirty-Two: Joy and Submission

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)

When Jesus says “these things I have spoken to you,” which things does he mean? In one way, I suppose, he means everything he ever said. But to be more true to the context of this verse, I think he means the things he’s taught in John 15:1-10. Thus, over the next several days we’re going to go back over the entire text and meditate on how the things Jesus taught relate to joy. And I hope you will take the time to meditate carefully with me because, as I mentioned yesterday, Christ is out to maximize our joy! Let us begin with the subject of submission.

In verse one Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” As I said on day one, this means that the Father is in ultimate control and has ultimate power over the Son. This means that the Father superintends the life and growth and spread and fruit of the Son. And as for the Son, this means that he is willingly and absolutely submitted to the Father and vulnerable before him. The Son is subject to every whim of the Father and surrendered to his perfect will.

Then, in verses four and five Jesus said this: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (vv. 1,4,5). Another way of saying this is, “Unless you submit to me as I submit to the Father, you can do nothing.” And with these words Jesus calls us into the very life that he is living: a life of joyful submission to the Father.

Now, how does joy relate to submission? Or to put it the other way around, how does submission give rise to joy? When we truly submit our lives to the Father, we come to see with our own eyes that he is wise and loving, and that he only plans what is best for us, what is best for others, and what is best for his glory. Rarely does he do things in a way that make immediate sense to us, but in time we come to see that his plans are good and right and wise.

Submission gives rise to joy because, in time, we come to learn more of who God is and we rejoice in him; we come to bear the fruit of the vine and prove useful for the glory of the Father and the good of other people, and we’re surprised and overjoyed that he includes us in his vast, eternal plan; we come to see that the Father does indeed know us by name and that he has caused us to know him, and there is no greater joy than to know and be known by God Almighty!

Without submission to the Father there is no lasting joy, but with submission to the Father there are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16:11)!

Prayer Focus: Pray that the Father will help us see the joy of submission, and that he will help us yield to him in all things, at all times.

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