Sunday, October 15, 2017

Joy that defeats Darkness.

Jesus is never said to have laughed, yet He did show a sense of humour. We gather that from such statements as “why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye.” Then there is “I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Even some of His serious and theologically important self-descriptions have that touch. Consider Jesus as ‘the door’ or ‘the Bread from heaven’, their importance is sharpened by the imagery presented which could cause a wry smile to appear.

However there is something far more captivating about Jesus. It is more lasting than humour and more durable. It isn’t spelt out but portrayed. Whether a prostitute or centurion, a child or a man like Nicodemus, it drew them to Him. In His presence they sensed “He welcomes me. I am valued as a person. I am important to Him.” Jesus may have summed up His captivating spirit in John 15:11. “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (Emphasis added).

Jesus shared this as He was about to enter the darkest experience of anyone at any time in all of eternity. Here His joy would be under extreme pressure as noted in His words to His Father in Gethsemane. He knew that on the cross when the sin of the World for all of time would envelope Him, the power of darkness would be brutal. What sustained Him? What radiant power within his spirit took hold of the darkness and overcame it? Hebrews 12:2 tells us: Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

What was the radiant joy that trampled the darkness? Many aspects would figure in the answer. Among them would be the vindication of the 39 books which promised the coming of the Messiah. There is found in the Passover ceremony, in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 the enveloping power of darkness which tried to swallow ‘the Lamb of God.’ The removal of the curse caused by Adam’s treachery and the ‘Death’s’ bondage over Mankind. No longer would individuals be subjected to Satan’s accusations and blackmail. Christ had paid sin’s price and cleansed the believer (Colossians 2:13-15). To top it all the despised Servant has been given the Name above every name and before whom all will bow.

Jesus, I sense, summed all that and much, much more in the phrase: “I seek not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 5:3o. 6:38. 8:16). That was His Joy! That was what He was bestowing upon His disciples. They too were about to be swallowed up by the bitter darkness when all seemed lost. Yet Jesus still placed within their hearts His fragrant promise of coming joyfulness. John 17 Jesus promised them they would see Him in His glory and be with Him forever. That joy would only be know after the bitter bleakness of the crucifixion and the despair of the following days. Christ’s resurrection fulfilled His promise not only about rising from the dead, but of enjoy His abiding joy. After Pentecost this would be tested time and again, but never conquered.

Joy is the eternal fragrance of Christ’s resurrection. When a person hears the gospel, understands then believes it strongly enough to ask Christ to be Saviour and Lord, joy takes hold. The Ethiopian eunuch In Acts 8 highlights that fact. Across the centuries that joy has never diminished. The Devil’s attempt to cover then smother a believer in a return of darkness to the soul crumbles as it meets the resurrection life of Christ. The energy of joyfulness is sustained by abiding in Christ. This is assured as His word abides in the believer. The unleashing of the joy of the Lord isn’t necessarily an emotional feeling. Rather it is a result of a relationship stemming from doing the Father and the Son’s will.

Next week. What does Scripture record as the unquestionable will of God to all?

©Ray Hawkins 15th October 2017.

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