The Joy Of Jesus
Here in John 17, we find our Lord’s Prayer of intercession after He and His disciples had left the upper room and before they arrived at Gethsemane. Now whether He paused to pray at some undisclosed place, or prayed as He walked, we’re not told that but it truly is the Lord’s prayer.
In His remaining hour of liberty we see He prayed in part (a) for Himself, for strength for the cross by God glorifying Him; (b) for His disciples and their spiritual preservation; (c) and, for believers to come and their unity.
But the verse that we want to focus on here this afternoon is found in verse 13 and deals with something very rare, something that is lacking amongst God’s people and that is the Joy of Jesus!
This joy that Jesus is talking about here in our text is not an emotion, it’s not something that you suddenly wake up with on a Sunday morning and put on like you would the clothes that you’re going to wear to church that Sunday. No, it’s something more!
Sure, there are those that week in and week out can come and put on a smile, put on a show that outwardly shows and screams that they’re “happy in the service of the King” but within they are lacking the true Joy of Jesus!
But this joy folks comes from not just saying that you are abiding with Christ and He with you but rather showing that you are abounding in Christ! And when you do that, the Joy of Jesus fills you! And when your soul is filled with the Joy of Jesus, you will be indescribably blessed but the best part of it is that you won’t be able to contain yourself of the great things God has done!
Folks, when the Joy of Jesus fills you, you won’t be able to contain yourself! You won’t not be able to cry out and shout of the good things that God has done for you! How He changed your life! You will sing more, you will praise more, and you will love more! When people come forward for salvation, you’ll want to do laps around the church because of another name written down in glory! When a prodigal comes home, you’ll want to throw them a party! When the Joy of Jesus fills you, you’ll say amen, you’ll shout when you sing, and they’ll be pep in your step!
Back to John 17 as I want us to notice a few things here this afternoon. Notice that this joy that Christ talks about is a ‘brand” joy – “my” joy. This joy was not simply a passing emotion such as happiness may create. It was not partial joy such as what this world would offer us in worldly goods but it was a complete joy. A joy that could only and can only be found in Christ!
And you see folks, this is why so many Christians today lack the true Joy of Jesus and that’s because they think that it’s an emotion that can be thrown on and off at a moment’s notice or that it’s happiness. But no, that’s not the joy that Christ is talking about!
Because you see happiness depends on happenings. The joy Jesus gives is not a high emotion riding the crest of a fatuous wave. Ravenhill once said this regarding this joy – “this joy is as real at the graveside as it is at the fireside. It does not evaporate under the heat of adversity. It does not wither at the onslaught of calamity. It does not panic in the presence of perfidy. It does not sour under the test of poverty. It does not die at the cruel hand of tragedy. It does not falter in the presence of misery.”
Now listen folks, this is not to say that you and I will not face things in this life that seek to rob us of our joy! Life is full of ups and downs; full of all sorts of happenings. One moment you are going full steam ahead, with the wind in your sails, when suddenly, BOOM, you hit a road block! Maybe you are confused, maybe angry, maybe discouraged. But all you know is that all of a sudden, your joy is gone. There are a host of situations that can rob us of our joy if we allow them to.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself told us in John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Listen, we’re not in the sweet by and by just yet. We’re still in the nasty now and now and in this world we will encounter things, people, and situations that seek to rob us of our joy and the Lord told us as much in John 16:33 but He also gave us hope that by saying hey, I’ve already overcome it all so be of good cheer, be happy, be joyous!
Listen folks, it’s very easy to want to quit on God when things get tough, to throw in the towel when we face the trials and tribulations of life. And you know what, that’s normal because trouble and trials, on their face, at first glance, are never encouraging. But as with anything that we face in this life, there is a reason behind the trials and temptations we face.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
We see further just how we’re to react to the trials and temptations we face along with seeing other reasons as to why we face such trials and temptations in James 1, turn there with me please.
Notice first, who this letter is written to; the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. James starts with the phrase, my brethren in verse 2, therefore we can gather this letter is being written to fellow Christians and therefore can be applied to Christians today.
The very first thing we see James instruct us to do when we face trials and temptations is akin to what our Lord said in John 16:33, he counsels them to be glad when various testings beset them.
In verse 3, he refers to faith for the first of twelve times in this epistle. The fact is that the trial of our faith develops patience. It conveys the sense of endurance, steadfastness and perseverance.
Thus God allows trials to develop the virtue of spiritual perseverance. It is a mark of spiritual maturity. Therefore, as difficulties arise in the Christian life, we ought rather than becoming discouraged, to rejoice therein. Such trials will produce greater spiritual maturity. God knows that and therefore allows such testing. This thought parallels Romans 5:1-3.
So finally in verse 4, he counsels, But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. As God’s people, we are instructed to allow patience to fully develop through testing. The alternative is to give up. The goal is that we may be perfect or in other words, mature. In this case, the thought is of being spiritually mature. Then also, patience is good that we might be entire or complete. Finally, another purpose of testing is that we might be wanting nothing or be not lacking spiritually.
So yes, trouble does come in the Christian life that will seek to rob our joy. Sometimes it’s of our own folly or lack of wisdom. However, God on other occasions allows it to come, nevertheless, to develop spiritual maturity and perseverance within. Therefore, we are instructed to rejoice rather than mope and complain.
Now allow me to caution, while joy can stand all the pressures Satan or circumstances bring against it; there is but one instance in which you can lose your joy, one instance in which the sun of joy in the soul can be eclipsed and that is by our own disobedience. True complete loss of joy is a result of our own disobedience.
Here in Psalm 51, we find David who had in II Samuel 11:1 sent his men into battle while he stayed behind and committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. And in these verses we see him pleading with God for mercy, forgiveness, and the restoration of the joy of his salvation which was lost because of sin. Mark it down folks; sin will rob you of the Joy of Jesus! David lost his joy because he stayed when he should have been with his men in the battle. Whatever it is that God wants you to do, if you disobey Him, you also will lose your joy! That’s what sin does!
Other reasons that so many Christians today lack the true Joy of Jesus is because they believe that joy is created by their possessions or their positions. This could not be any further from the truth! Joy is not created by possessions, or by positions, but by a Person – Him, the Lord Jesus Christ! Joy in Christ is maintained by abiding in Him, by believing in Him, and by obeying Him.
As we prepare to close here this afternoon, allow me to give to you 6 ways in which to enjoy indestructible peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ and that is to determine to do the following;
1. To do whatever God commands, however difficult.
I Kings 11:38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
2. To endure whatever God appoints, however severe.
II Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
3. To obtain whatever God promises, however seemingly unattainable.
Genesis 17:15-19 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Genesis 21:1-2 And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
4. To die daily, however costly the crucifixion.
Luke 9:23-25 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
5. To love your “enemies,” however misunderstood you may be for doing so.
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
6. To pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.
I Thessalonians 5:17-18 Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
As we close here this afternoon, the only question I have for you is a simple one; how’s your joy in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it where it needs to be or are you running a bit on empty here this afternoon? Just like a car can’t run very long when it’s on that “E” mark, neither can the Christian keep on running much longer when their joy is running on “E”.
If you’re here this afternoon and you’re allowing your joy to depend on happiness, emotions, possessions, or positions, you’re running on empty! You need a fill up from the person joy is found in, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ! And that joy is found when you abide in Him, believe in Him, and obey Him in all that think, say, and do! The Joy of Jesus!