“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” John 15:11 (NIV)
Over many years I have seen many artists’ sketches of the face of Jesus. Today when reading this verse from John I realise that in none of the portraits have I seen a smiling Jesus. I do not use the word “grin” as though Jesus was silly, rather I employ the word “smile” as it suggests a peaceful and tranquil spirit. For the life of me I cannot explain why artists never show Jesus with a smile on His face.
Often we see Jesus on a crucifix or in some other posture suggesting suffering. Indeed Jesus is labelled the Man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). However He exhibited a joyful spirit on many occasions and even said things that made people laugh as He used Jewish humour to make points while speaking to the crowds.
In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus speaks about people trying to extract a splinter from their neighbour’s eye while having a log in their own eye. Or in Matthew 23:24 He speaks of people who choke on a mosquito while swallowing a camel.
So we get the picture that Jesus used humour to make a point in His teaching. We do caution that Jesus never came off like a comedian, rather He seasoned His speech with funny illustrations to keep people listening.
Interestingly enough the points Jesus makes using humour are very serious. He does not want the people to lose the point by simply enjoying the joke. Yet, there is a remarkable joy in the life of Jesus that we need to take into our own lives if we are going to navigate the problems we all face in this world.
Jesus told His followers that their joy would flow from His teaching (John 15:11; John 17:13). Therefore it is imperative that we learn what Jesus had to say in order to obtain the joy of which He speaks.
Reading the four Gospels will give you a rich curriculum of Jesus’ teaching. In Luke’s Gospel in particular you meet so many words for joy. Seventy-nine of the 326 appearances of words for joy in the New Testament appear in Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts which he also wrote.
Regarding the announcements of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus in Luke 1 there are 10 appearances of words for joy. The entire Gospel message therefore comes wrapped in joy.
I am not suggesting that a mere intellectual grasp of what Jesus taught will bring you joy. Rather as the verse prior to our text indicates, Jesus taught that obedience to His Father’s commands is what bring joy.
Do you need to learn what Jesus taught and practice it in order to have this joy? Are you still struggling to “make it in life” by doing what you think right?
You will never have this joy of which Jesus speaks unless you give yourself and all you possess over to the will of God. You must turn from your own aspirations and find out what God would have you do in life. You must believe in the One the Father has sent John 6:40. May this joy be yours today.