Fullness of Joy
Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11
According to the gospel accounts, Jesus talked more about joy on the night before His crucifixion than any other time during His earthly ministry. Does that seem odd to you?
In John 16:20, He told the disciples that they would soon weep, mourn, and grieve. Then He added that all their pain would be transformed into joy when they saw Him again (v. 22). Jesus was talking about more than the sorrow they’d experience when He died and the joy they’d feel after His resurrection.
To understand Jesus’ point, we have to adjust our definition of joy. Often we associate it with events—weddings, graduations, or other social gatherings. But Jesus told the disciples that their joy was connected to Him and His teachings, not their circumstances.
For example, in John 15:9-11, Jesus connected joy to remaining in His love and obeying His commands. In John 17, Jesus again connected joy to His teachings. He said to God the Father, “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they [the disciples] may have the full measure of My joy within them” (17:13). He summarized His teachings in verse 26: “I have made You [God the Father] known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”
This then is the joy of which Jesus spoke: We can know God. The more intimately we know Him, the more joy we’ll experience. How do we develop that intimacy? We give the Holy Spirit access to every part of our lives so He can “guide us into all truth” (16:13). We “remain in [God’s] love” (15:9) by spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study. That will motivate us to obey His commands (15:10). The result is fullness of joy.
Do you long for the joy Jesus promised? I do. To receive it, we enter God’s presence and open our heart to receive His love. That’s the first step toward experiencing the joy “no one will take away” (16:22).
Note what produces joy in these passages: Acts 8:5-8, Acts 13:49-53, and Acts 15:2-3. How are these things related to abiding in God’s love and obeying His commands?
Read 1 John 1:3-4, 2 John 1:4, and 3 John 1:4. What does the apostle John associate with joy in these passages? Are those the things that fill your heart with joy as well?
Read 1 Peter 1:1-8 and 4:12-13. What does Peter say is related to fullness of joy?
For more on joy, read How Great Our Joy under Dig into Songs.
Denise K. Loock
Note: This devotion is part of a Lenten Series: The Upper Room Teachings.