Joy. We hear that word so often within the Christian world. There are multiple books written on why one must obtain it, sermons dedicated to the pursuance of it, and within this John 7-21 Study we already looked at “Fullness of Joy” being found by abiding in the Vine. So why are we going to look at this quality again? Why rehash such a reoccurring subject? Well, because Jesus brings it up again. The word joy is used seven times in the gospel of John and four of them are found in John 16. So this is obviously an important topic to Jesus!
Within John 16, the central theme of joy is summed up in verse twenty-two:
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy from you.”
The context of this verse is Jesus predicting the fact that the disciples would not see Him for a while. This obviously brought much uneasiness among the disciples, for they began to debate the exact meaning of Jesus’ words, “a little while and you will see me no more”. Knowing this, Jesus clarifies His words and adds a comfort measure by telling them that He will see them again. This brought peace back to the disciples, however, they were still unaware that the “you will see me no more” didn’t mean that Jesus was going on a trip but rather that He was going to the cross. So the disciples were going to walk through unimaginable sorrow, because to them Jesus was the promised Messiah, the future ruler of Israel, the longed for deliverer, and the one who would break the Roman yoke of bondage and restore the kingdom of David. When Jesus instead was mockingly called the King of the Jews and nailed to the cross, the disciples journeyed through incredible heartbreak, for not only was their beloved Teacher and Rabbi dying, but so were their dreams for a restored Israel. However, from the ruins of this deepest of griefs God brought inexpressible joy.
The Greek word translated joy in John 16:22 is chara, which means to rejoice, joy, exuberant, gladness. Picture the disciples’ great joy at the resurrection of Jesus or the lame man in Acts 3 as he goes running and leaping and praising God. This is the type of joy Jesus is referring to, the kind that even the most stoic person is unable to contain, is obvious to everyone around, and stands out. An interesting note about the word chara is that its Greek root is charis which means grace. So this is a joy born from the receiving of grace and the hope found in Christ’s resurrection. And it’s a joy that no one can take from us.
But just because no one can take it from us, doesn’t mean that we can’t give it away. As we discovered in “Fullness of Joy”, joy is not an emotion; it is a choice. Therefore, we have the power to choose to possess it or to choose to let it slip away. So while no one can steal our joy from us we can allow it to be swallowed up by the people, things, and circumstances in our life. These things can be viewed as “joy snatchers,” for while they do not steal our joy from us they do pull on us and try to drag us down and cause us to lose our hold on our God-given joy. Some joy snatchers include: difficult people, physical affliction, loss and tragedy, financial hardships, depression, loneliness, divorce, family brokenness, you fill in the blank ______.
Now having joy doesn’t mean that we’re bouncing around all the time with smiles plastered to our faces. But it does mean that we can face life’s circumstances and trials and tell those joy snatchers that Jesus rose from the dead over two thousand years ago, that our joy is found in Him, and that no one and nothing can take that joy away from us.
So the question is…are YOU fully rejoicing in the grace and hope of the resurrection? Can those around you notice and see the joy of the Lord radiating from you? Are you allowing the things or people in your life take your joy from you? What are your joy snatchers?
Our adversary, the devil, likes to send joy snatchers our way to test our joy in the Lord and do anything he can to separate us from our God-given promises and treasures. But though he may shake and rattle the world around us, he cannot touch us without God’s consent, and he cannot steal our joy unless we give it to him. Therefore, remain immovable upon the promises of God and don’t give Satan or life’s joy snatchers any of your God-given, everlasting joy!
“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”