Jesus and Joy

Jesus and Joy

Jesus and Joy.

“From frowning saints, good Lord, deliver us! (Theresa of Avila).

“If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!” (John 15:11). Jesus didn’t seem to walk around like the happiest of campers. But He definitely was joyful. And He doesn’t seem to care if we are merely happy, but He without a doubt wants us to be deeply joyful. Jesus goes on record here as saying that He wants His followers to have a heart-felt gladness that is overflowing.

How do we go about defining joy? Joy is easier to describe than define. Joy is not happiness. Happiness is unsteady, dependent on external circumstances. Happiness goes up and down, it comes and goes, based on the changeable whims of life. Happiness is temporary and superficial, and can’t be relied upon. Happiness is natural; joy is supernatural. Happiness is a result of circumstance; joy is a gift of God. Happiness is horizontal; joy is vertical. Happiness is the uncertain wave dependent on the wind; joy is the steady, delightful undertow that takes you into the deep, drawing us to our inner heart’s desire .

Yes, Jesus had a secret, and it was joy. Joy is a central aspect of His eternal essence and nature. Because He was also a “man of sorrows,” His joy may have been hidden at times. Perhaps only hearts that are wide enough for grief can be deep enough for joy. But Jesus was full of joy, and He earnestly wants His joy to be fulfilled in us, completed in Him. (John 15:11; 17:13). Jesus wanted His followers to “enter into His joyous delight.” (John 17:13, TPT). But what gave Jesus joy? What was the secret, and not so secret, source of Jesus’ joy, His “cosmic contentment,” as G. K. Chesterton said in Orthodoxy?

  1. Communion with the Father. “Father, now I am returning to you, so I pray they will experience and enter into my joyous delight in you, so that it is fulfilled in them and overflows.” (John 17:13, TPT). There is an eternal oneness between Father and Son that is unknowable. It is the secret source of Jesus’ joy. He knew and was known by the Father in the deepest possible sense. Jesus was certain of His Father’s love, and he knew first-hand that the Father was pleased with Him. Jesus was assured of His Father’s blessing, and that gave Him contentment and peace and unconquerable joy. Jesus was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. There is no deeper union than that between Jesus and His Father. And that gave Jesus an eternal wellspring of joy and abiding gladness. (Luke 10:22; John 3:35; 10:15, 30; 14:10-11; 17:5,22). “If Christ laughed a great deal, as the evidence shows, and if He is what He claimed to be, we cannot avoid the logical conclusion that there is laughter and merriment in the heart of God.” (Elton Trueblood, The Humor of Christ).
  2. Creation. “May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made.” (Ps. 104:31). Jesus was certainly a joyful co-creator, making the universe with gladness. He rejoiced while designing life on earth, while inventing humanity based on Him as the prototype. Jesus no doubt had deep satisfaction when He brought light out of darkness, when He produced a stunning variety of good things. He certainly harmonized with the morning stars when they sang for joy during creation. Like any artist, creation brought immense delight to Jesus, as He looked at His handiwork and pronounced it “good.” “How happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family.” (Prov. 8:31). (also, Job 38:4, 6, 7; Prov. 8:27-31; Gen. 1:31).
  3. Ministry. Joy is a net of love by which we can catch souls.” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta). Jesus seemed to take great joy in His mission, which was to be the source of salvation and wholeness for all people. He took joy in saving and serving people, because He knew it pleased the Father. For Jesus loved being useful to the Father, doing His will, completing His work, ministering to people. Obeying the Father is what satisfied Jesus, what gave Him life, like food and water to His spiritual digestive system. Jesus found joy in rescuing people from sin, in making them whole. “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17). (also Jeremiah 15:16; Luke 4:43-44; John 4:34; 6:38-40; 15:11; 17:13).

Jesus had an underground spring of joy, and the sources of that joy at least included His communion with His Father, with creation, and with His ministry. But what is joy, exactly? Let’s describe it to better understand it, even though we’ll never get to the bottom of it. Joy is a settled assurance of God’s love and lordship. Joy is a deep-seated delight, a confident pleasure of the soul. Joy is an encouraged understanding of God’s presence and character. Joy is an inner gladness based on spiritual realities, that “we  live in a gloomy town but a merry universe.” (Chesterton). Joy is a quality of holy optimism that affects the whole personality. Joy is a foundational light-heartedness that overflows into one’s spirit. Joy is an abiding satisfaction that all is well with God. Joy is a hopeful sense of well-being that rejoices in gratitude. Joy is a gladsome result of faith, a by-product of love, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is our most dependable and accurate foretaste of heaven.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”  (1 Peter 1:6-8, NLT).

4 Replies to “Jesus and Joy”

  1. “Joy is a quality of holy optimism that affects the whole personality.” I love that perspective. Joy fills you and impacts every aspect of life!

    I think you should do your next post on “peace” . As Sadie’s middle name means Joy and Leia’s means peace!

  2. “Joy is a quality of holy optimism that affects the whole personality. ” I love that. Joy fills your life and pours out to all areas and your entire personality.

    I think your next post should be about “peace”. “Joy” for Etsuko, and “Peace” for Kazuko!

  3. Very good.Joy is one source of strength for us.I haven’t had happiness in I don’t know when,maybe I never had it at all but God does give me joy and I thank him for it.

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