Over the last couple of weeks, I have been slowly thumbing my way through what has become my most loved Gospel. Reading through John’s account of the life of Jesus, I have been struck by Jesus’ emphasis on ‘joy’.
With his crucifixion only days away, Jesus encourages his disciples to remain in him, in order that he would remain in them. He assures them that he has told them these things in order that ‘my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete’ (Jo 15:11). Over the next couple of chapters Jesus returns to this theme on around half a dozen occasions.
Reflecting on these verses it strikes me that ‘joy’, that is ‘true joy’ and not superficial satisfaction or whipped up excitement, is one of the hallmarks of the true disciple of the Lord Jesus. Those who know him, (not only technically, but experientially) have the confidence to ‘ask’ in order that they may ‘receive’ so that their ‘joy will be complete’ (Jo 16:24).
As we look at the context in which Jesus spoke, we can be ensured that this promise of joy is not given primarily to bless us in the good times, but to sustain us through the tough times. Therefore, ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. Who, for the JOY that was set before him endued the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God’ (Heb 12:2).