Henry David Thoreau once observed, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” That nineteenth century sentiment sounds incredibly contemporary. It illustrates the feelings of futility that have run through civilizations from the beginning of time and characterize our age as well. We are among the richest countries on earth, yet financial prosperity has not proven to be the answer. What is?
“These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).” Reflect on the brief biographical information that is available about Jesus, and we find nothing about His possessions. By His own admission, foxes and birds had what he did not (Matthew 8:20). Yet, in His closing conversation with the apostles before His crucifixion He spoke of His joy and of theirs being made full. He obviously knew something.
We must not miss the amazing timing of His words. The cross waited. The sins of all people of all times would soon be heaped on His shoulders. The back-lashing, crown of thorns, humiliation, ridicule and nails through the flesh were gruesome; but they were not the worst. No, the dreadful punishment for all of history’s sins made that seem like a hangnail by comparison. It wrecked His eternally perfect relationship with His Father. All of that was imminent, and He took time to converse about joy?
It is a byproduct of an intimate bond with Jesus Christ. We search in vain for joy when we should be pursuing the joy giver in a relationship so close that He compares it to a vine and branches. Abide is the word He uses multiple times to describe it. That is where we live. It is our life. It took just four verses of His gospel for John to get to the topic of life. It permeates His work. Jesus offers an abundant life (John 10:10), and that has nothing to do with material possessions. An insect can eat those. A thief can steal them. Time will destroy them (Matthew 6:19-21). The Lord offers something much more permanent than that. We focus on tomorrow. He looks at eternity.
It is that continual relationship with Jesus and His word that maintains a vital connection and results in a fruitful life (John 15:5). It is neither sporadic nor marginal. No, the harvest comes when we surrender every breath we take to His control. It is then that our home address is within His love. It is a rich and rewarding relationship known as discipleship. That is job one for those who truly want the joy filled life that only God can give.
God the Father is glorified, and we perpetually stay within the love of Jesus. The lines of communication between earth and heaven are opened. Jesus lived joyfully, explained it and then died. Are we looking and listening?