Jesus in this section of scripture is preparing the disciples for his impending death and resurrection. He is telling them they will be struck down with sorrow as a result of His death. But He also tells them that in due course they will be filled with the joy of Jesus, which no one will be able to take away from them.
Why did Jesus say they would experience this joy of Jesus? And what was the joy that they would experience such that it could not be taken away? Certainly they would be pleased to see the return of the Lord at His resurrection, but what would this joy be that they would experience that could not be taken away?
There were indeed a number of reasons for the joy of Jesus in the disciples life, and these same reasons exist for us to day. There are many reasons to have the joy of Jesus, which we will see in the following discussion as we look at just a few of the reasons the disciples may have experienced a joy that could not be taken away.
The Joy of Jesus’ Return
Naturally the first reason for the joy of Jesus the disciples may have had was seeing Him return from death. Three days after He had been placed in the tomb He arose and walked among them. That would have been sufficient reason for joy alone, but there was more to come.
In Luke 24:44-47 Jesus spoke to the disciples after He had risen from the dead saying,
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
At His return He opened their minds to understand the scriptures so that they could see. Prior to this they were being taught by Jesus, but now they were given understanding. The words were not just words, but they came to life so the disciples could comprehend the work of God in establishing His New Covenant in Jesus.
This was a real reason for joy in Jesus. They were given insight. And this is available to us today also who follow in His ways and worship Jesus as the disciples did. Jesus will open our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us the things of God which a man cannot understand because they can only be learned through the Spirit.
So here too is a reason for joy in Jesus that comes down to us today.
The Joy of Jesus’ Freedom
Another reason for the joy of Jesus that would have been experienced by the disciples is when they understood the scriptures, they would see fully how the freedom in Jesus Christ works. They would have recognised that it was necessary for Jesus to die and be raised from the dead to bring the New Covenant into existence.
The New Covenant, unlike the Old Covenant of law, is based upon Grace from God. It is Grace that sets us free when we follow the processes defined in the New Covenant according to the words of Jesus Christ.
Grace was not the basis of the old law. It was based upon works. The people had to keep the law by doing the requirements of the law.
But under Grace God has overlooked our past sins, setting us free from sin and setting us free from the law which condemns man as a sinner, thus reconciling us to God. A man who is not condemned as a sinner is able to stand before God so that He will help that man to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. And all of this is made possible through Grace which was not available to earlier generations.
Certainly the freedom in the truth of the New Covenant is a great reason for the joy of Jesus. To have that weight of sin removed from our shoulders and to be accepted by God through Jesus Christ is one of the greatest reasons for joy ever expressed since the dawn of time.
And this freedom in the truth leads to the next reason for the joy of Jesus.
The Joy of Jesus’ Life
In Jesus we have received not just freedom, but life. In Jesus we receive the gifts of God, and in particular the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to work the transformation in our lives to crush the evil passions, desires and lusts of the flesh of man and to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
And this is the life that we receive. A life free from sin and with our primal urges, so much a part of man that drive him to sin, brought under control. The victory we have over the flesh comes through the working of the Holy Spirit and the victory that Jesus first had over the flesh and death to give us this salvation.
He has promised a life in abundance now, and eternal life with Him in the future at His second coming.
The abundant life now is not about wealth and possessions in this world, but the abundance of peace, joy, love, happiness, freedom and the like that are achieved through knowing the Lord and living in His ways.
His ways are perfect and He is leading us to a place of perfection. The change and transformation the Holy Spirit works in us, ever so slowly, is designed to bring us to maturity so we can stand against all opposition, perfect as Christ was perfect.
This is truly a great reason for the joy of Jesus. I have barely scratched the surface of the reasons for the joy of Jesus, and rather than go on for pages and pages, let me ask you. What reasons do you have for the joy of Jesus in your life? Please add your comments below for all to see and learn.
(Photo sourced from “www.sxc.hu/” stock.xchng taken by Sanja Gjenero)
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