What was it that attracted the individual or even the masses to Jesus during his few years of earthly ministry? Why did Levi get up from his tax collection booth and immediately follow the Lord? Why did crowds follow on foot to the other side of the lake while Jesus and company crossed by boat?
I believe it was His real joy. I think we miss so much of the interpretation of emotion through the printed word. I personally am very excited to see an exclamation mark following some of Jesus’ responses recorded in the gospels. I love exclamation marks! I am a very excitable person, so I get the exclamation mark!!!
How about the instance when Jesus commends the woman’s persistence in seeking healing for her child? He said, “Woman, you have great faith!” I just want to hear Him say that! There’s an exclamation point, so I have to believe He was very happy and excited! (See Matthew 15:21-28.)
On another occasion, Jesus is listening to the disciples’ report of miracles that God did through them to bring healing to the sick and deliverance to the demon-possessed. His emotion springs forth through the written word with expressions of celebratory joy. At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure” (Luke 10:21).
Finally, in the preparatory teachings for His departure, Jesus instructs the disciples to obey all that He has taught them, thereby, remaining in His love. He tells them this so that His joy may be in them and their joy may be complete (John 15:10-11).
What does Jesus’ joy have to do with you and me? Let me put it this way… are individuals and crowds following us to the Lord? Are they attracted to the kingdom of God through our witness? “What would that look like?” you say. Here is a prime example: We in America are watching our country change as core values are discounted to nothing more than antiquated desires. We see our government taking on more of a “rule over the people” than “created by and for the people” role. Instead of Christians spending their strength on making a mockery of our governmental leaders, why don’t we follow the command of God in praying for our leaders and live out our joy in knowing that every power and every authority is subject to Jesus who CREATED all thrones, powers and authorities? Basically, we know the end of the story! We can rejoice because our God reigns!
Oppression under the rule of dictatorship was a cause for despair for subjects of the ancient Roman empire, but One came whose joy gave no concern for the temporal political climate of Palestine. He was on a mission of the eternal kingdom of God, and “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). And so, the magnetism to real joy began.
Did you discover the secret to having complete joy? We take our eyes off the temporal and focus them on the eternal. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).
If this instruction seems too far out of reach, I want to share with you a very simple solution. The complete joy of the Lord is realized when we remain focused on the eternal kingdom of God, and that is made possible through the written Word of God. Exclamation marks or not, it truly is the Living Word, the Bread of Life. I hope you will ingest it every day and witness the joy of the Lord spring to life in you!