Want More Joy? Do This!
That time when Jesus was really, really happy.
Growing up in church we used to sing a catchy little song in Sunday School. Do you remember this one?
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.” “Where?” “Down in my heart.” “Where?” “Down in my heart.” “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.” “Where?” “Down in my heart to staaaaayyy!”
If I remember correctly, the advanced verse of the song went something like, “I've got the wonderful love of my blessed Redeemer way down in the depths of my heart.”
It was a tongue twister, but no less true.
Joy is a beautiful thing and when you have experienced it on a consistent basis, you know how sustaining it can be for life and ministry. After all ministry can be tough. Life can be hard.
Who wouldn’t want more joy?
I searched the word “joy” in the New Testament a while ago, and it led to an “a-ha” moment. I couldn’t believe it!
“There is only one recorded time in the New Testament when Jesus is described as “full of joy”.
That’s not to say he didn’t experience joy when he saw people healed, delivered, redeemed, and even resurrected, but isn’t it strange that in the entire New Testament, there is only one explicit instance when Jesus is described as being “full of joy”?
Would you like to know where it’s found?
Joy in the Gospels
The word joy is mentioned 242 times in the Bible, 68 times in the New Testament, 24 times in the Gospels, and only 1 time to describe Jesus.
Search for yourself.
“That’s not to say that being in the presence of Jesus wasn’t a source of joy for others. Other people experienced much joy around Jesus.”
At his birth announcement in Luke 2:10 the angels said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
There are numerous times in the Gospels when an encounter with Jesus left a person with joy. After His resurrection in Matthew 28:8, the women returned to the disciples “afraid, yet filled with joy”.
In Luke 24:41, the two men on the road to Emmaus were filled with “joy and amazement” after they encountered Christ. A few verses later in vs. 52 the disciples witnessed the final words of Jesus and His ascension and “returned to Jerusalem with great joy”.
“In His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus brought great joy to many, many people.”
It’s also true that abiding in Jesus and walking in his commands brings joy. Jesus tells his followers in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
I could go on.
There are many, many things that bring us joy. But what brings Jesus joy? There is one moment that stands out from the others.
One moment that made a lasting impression.
That Time Jesus Was Full of Joy
The “joy-full-ness” of Jesus came on the heels of a very famous passage of Scripture.
Luke 10:2 tells us that Jesus turned to a large number of his disciples and said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few”. He then commissioned 72 of them as laborers in his harvest.
He let them go.
He sent them out like “lambs among wolves”.
“I would say for most pastors and leaders, the idea of mobilizing people can be scary.”
Equipping and releasing those closest to you to expand the ministry as a disciple maker, pioneer leader, or church planter can create fear and trepidation.
What if something happens to them?
What if they don’t make it?
What if the wolves get them?
What if they move on?
What if I don’t see them again?
What if no one replaces them?
Where will I find another person like them?
How can I afford to lose more people?
These are all natural fears.
I’ve experienced many of them as a church planter and pastor and a few of them are even surfacing as I prepare to send my daughter off to college!
Nevertheless, the 72 were sent. The harvest needed workers. And then, something happened!
Something caused Jesus to well up with joy. Luke 10:21 describes the exact moment.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”
Jesus is beaming.
He’s full of joy. But why? Why is he so elated? What has impacted him with such force?
The answer is found a few verses earlier. Luke 10:17 tells us, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
The 72 are filled with joy. Wow!
They don’t return discouraged.
They don’t return exhausted.
They don’t return accusing Jesus of sending them to the wolves.
They don’t return angry.
They return from ministry filled with joy!!
Joy is being multiplied because people are engaging in ministry. Joy is being multiplied because the disciples experience God working through them.
This brings Jesus incredible joy and like a proud parent he writes in Luke 10:21, “I praise you Father…because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
“Jesus is full of joy as he witnesses the joy on the faces of his disciples.”
The only way to parallel this experience might be the joy of opening Christmas presents. I enjoy opening gifts, but I am “full of joy” watching my children open gifts. There is something exponentially more fulfilling watching people you love experience deep and meaningful joy.
Do You Want Joy? Do This…
Train and equip.
Stop holding on.
Open your hands.
Give others a chance.
And then, remember that time in the Bible when Jesus was “full of joy” and said, “I praise you Father, Lord of Heaven and earth”.
The only way to experience this kind of joy is to take a step of faith.
We desperately need more workers and chances are, letting go might be the key to greater joy in ministry.
To learn more about what we do, visit www.groundswellmovement.net.