Summary: We need to know the what and why of this joy—what true joy is all about and why joy is a mark of believers. The source of joy is not found in this world; it is external, from Above.
“The Full Measure of Joy” Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
“I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have My full measure of joy fulfilled within them” (John 17:13).
It may seem surprising, but Jesus is a Man of Joy. He experienced the deepest pain, yet He was filled with joy. He gladly bore our grief. The writer of the Book of Hebrews encourages us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfector of our faith, who was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward” (12:2). Our Lord was characterized by joy in spite of the task set before Him.
In the shadow of the cross, Jesus asks that His joy be experienced by us. The fact that Jesus could have joy in the midst of suffering shows that we can have it also. “When Jesus bought His own joy at the price of His obedient death, He also bought ours” (J Piper). We need to know the what and why of this joy—what true joy is all about and why joy is a mark of believers.
>Joy defined (the “what”)…
“I am coming to You”, Jesus prays to the Father. Jesus could have prayed silently. He prays aloud for our benefit, to assure us that He’s committed to our joy. He knows He will soon be home. He will enter the Heavenly Temple, and the blood He will sprinkle upon the mercy seat will be His own. He is returning to the Father with a sense of joy and satisfaction. Yet as He prays, He’s still upon the battleground of human conflict. He prays for those who will continue to suffer hardship after His Passion is over. He prays for and died for our joy.
Joy is a misunderstood concept. People think it means being bubbly and carefree all the time. They equate joy with pleasure. Or they see it as the absence of problems. Life is a mixture of happiness and tears. Joy enables us to handle the tough times with a serene confidence in God’s purpose. Joy doesn’t come by avoiding pain. The joyful Christian is like a mother giving birth. The pain of labor results in joy.
This word “joy” could be translated “delight”. It means “to shine” or to “be bright”. When we have joy, we are aglow in the Lord; there is a radiance about us, because we have come into the Light of God’s love.
I’m not referring to the façade people put on, masking their true feelings, but an inner reality that transforms how we respond to life. A child was going through a Natural History museum, and was disappointed in the displays. He turned to his parents and said, “Let’s go to the zoo where the animals are real.” Joy is real; it’s more than a smiley face, more than emotion--joy is a lifestyle. Joy is the by-product of a Christian outlook on life. True joy is unconditional; it doesn’t depend on our situation. Nothing can shatter true joy. The full measure of joy doesn’t rely on how life is, but on how we are. Faith can transform our perceptions, enabling us to be joyful throughout the good and bad seasons of our lives. We live in troubled times, but as people of faith we’re able to rise above our circumstances.