Friday, January 22, 2016

Day Thirty-One - Jesus' Joy and Ours

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

With the words of John 15:11, Jesus reveals what has been one of his primary aims since verse 1, namely, the fullness of our joy in him. Have you ever stopped to think about how passionate Jesus is about our joy? Jesus wants our joy. Jesus teaches for our joy. Jesus laid his life down for our joy. Jesus is ever interceding for our joy. Twice, Jesus even commanded us to have joy (Matthew 5:12, Luke 10:20)! Beloved, we have likely never imagined how passionate Jesus is about our joy.

And what is this joy about which he’s so passionate? The main word translated “joy” in the New Testament is chara. It is used one-hundred-thirty-three times, and means “a feeling of inner happiness, rejoicing, gladness, or delight” (Friberg and Friberg, eds., Analytical Greek New Testament: Baker Books, 1994). Sometimes a distinction is made between happiness which is based on circumstance and joy which is deeper and more enduring. But this is a hard case to make from the Bible because the word chara is used to describe all types of happiness or joy.

Thus, rather than making an arbitrary distinction between two words, I would rather put the matter this way: joy is happiness based on some object or circumstance, and it will last as long as that object or circumstance lasts. If we take joy in ephemeral things, our joy will fade as fast as does their usefulness. But if we take joy in eternal things, our joy will be everlasting. Indeed, our joy endures as long as the object of our joy endures.

So, then, from whence does Jesus bid us to take our joy? Answer: from him, the fountain of everlasting delights! “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11, emphasis mine). And to be sure, the joy of Jesus is vast beyond measure: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). So again, since Jesus is the fountain of everlasting joy, our joy in him will endure forever!

Prayer Focus: Pray that Jesus will help us understand his passion for our joy, and that he will help us delight in him, walk in his ways, and know the fullness of his happiness!

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