Summary: Jesus prescription for joy for us is the sharingof our faith with others.
What Joy Awaits
Sept 4, 2011 John 4:27-38
I have for you this morning a prescription for joy. Would any of you like to have more joy in your life? I suspect so, however I also suspect that many of you hear me say I have a prescription for joy and you are suspicious. I suspect that because that is my immediate reaction to similar offers. Alarm bells go off in my head, and I think – ok, but what is it going to cost? And more importantly, will it require me to change?
The answer is yes. My prescription – actually it is Jesus’ prescription, but we’ll get to that in a moment – will require change. But it will result in joy. A lot of it. So when we each do the inevitable mental calculation about what it will cost vs. what we will get out of it, factor in the promise of Jesus that this change will result in a lot of joy.
So what will have to change? First, an attitude towards a part of our faith that we all recognize as important but which few of us tangibly practice. The attitude is based on a whole pack of lies and rooted in selfishness, but it is pervasive. Once the attitude changes, actions will follow. And the result, according to Jesus, is joy.
So what is the prescription?
So what is this prescription for joy? Let me answer that by taking us back to John 4 again this morning. We’ve read the story, Jesus has been travelling with His disciples, they stop in Samaria at a well, Jesus’ disciples go into town for food and Jesus enters a great conversation with a woman who has come to draw water. The part of the story I want to focus on today is the conversation Jesus has with His disciples when they return from grocery shopping in Sychar, John 4:27-38.
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, What do you want with her? or Why are you talking to her? 28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah? 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
31 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, Rabbi, eat something.
32 But Jesus replied, I have a kind of food you know nothing about.
33 Did someone bring him food while we were gone? the disciples asked each other.
34 Then Jesus explained: My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, Four months between planting and harvest. But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, One plants and another harvests. And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.
What Joy Awaits
As I read this part of the story, one line leaped off the page, as often happens when we read Scripture and the Holy Spirit breathes life into it. I imagine listening to Jesus speak these words, answering the questions about why He isn’t eating, sharing this metaphor of planting and harvesting, and I hear Jesus get really excited. I hear Him get caught up in the idea, delighting in the mental picture of His followers (the farmers in the story, harvesting people brought to eternal life), and Jesus gets carried away into this one line that is full of excitement as Jesus knows the joy that will come. But now look more closely – what is the joy? Is it the joy in those people who are brought to eternal life? No. Is it the joy in the heart of the Father whose lost children are brought home? Not that either. Jesus gets carried away with the joy that awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! It is the joy of the farmer, the joy of the follower of Jesus, the joy you and I experience when we obey Jesus’ command to share the good news about Jesus with others.
So what is the prescription? In the agricultural metaphor, plant some seeds, or harvest some ripe crops. And then, what joy awaits!
Roadblocks to this Joy:
It is pretty clear to me: Jesus prescription for joy for us is the sharing of our faith with others. But many of us have a different attitude towards sharing our faith, and that is what needs to change. I think it is because we have a really wrong idea of what it means.