But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.Hebrews 1:8-9
Consider for a moment the unspeakable joy of God. Hebrews 1:8-9 tells us that “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” The text is speaking of Jesus. God the Father anointed God the Son with the oil of gladness above “thy fellows” – that is, above His fellow men. God the Father was not anointing Jesus with something that He Himself did not possess. Nor did this anointing produce in Jesus an amount of joy that exceeded what was already possessed of the Father. So, we can concluded that Jesus had more joy than any man, and that God has an incomprehensible amount of joy. Jesus is the happiest man who ever lived, and God is a very happy God.
We should pause to consider this for several reasons: knowing this about God can help us understand our own joy a little more, it can help us enjoy God more and rejoice in Him more in worship, and it can give us a richer, more personal, and more genuine experience of His joy.
It is appropriate that we should do this at Christmas time – because Christmas should be a time of overflowing joy for the Christian. My son was commenting on the number of people he has encountered who absolutely hate Christmas – the trees, the lights, the carols, the traditions, the family gatherings – especially the family gatherings. I think for many, the Christmas season shines a spotlight on their miseries and reminds them of their disappointments and their heartaches and pain. They prefer not to stir that bad soup, and Christmas insists on stirring it.
Against the backdrop of human misery and pain, joy has the power to shine in a brighter, more glorious, and more obvious way. Because Christmas celebrates the good news – God became a man! Jesus Christ is born!
It can be hard to experience the kind of joy that you long for when the pressures of life press down on you and when hardships and trials try to crush you. And so, I am glad for this opportunity to spend a few minutes thinking about joy.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defined joy as the natural outcome of fellowship with God. It is “the appropriate response of the believer to the ‘good tidings of great joy’ which constitute the gospel.”
God Himself is full of unspeakable joy. As I said in an earlier post, “this means that God has a complete happiness and satisfaction with Himself and with His will, and at the same time a delight in that will.”
When we share in that satisfaction in the will of God, when we enjoy God’s will and delight in it the way that God does, then we experience the joy of God. On the other hand, if we find satisfaction in anything else more than God, if we delight in anything else in the place of God or more than we delight in Him, then we are in sin. Anything that delights us more than God Himself is what we call an idol. And in the end, idols are the things that rob us of our joy.
But in order for us to get a better understanding of joy, we need to examine the fountain of it, which is our Lord Jesus Christ – the 2nd Person of the Trinity. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is full of joy. The Bible also tells us what Jesus Christ enjoys, what delights Him, what gives Him joy. The Bible gives a vivid description of the joy of Jesus Christ. And the Bible does all of this because God wants us to enjoy Him, to delight ourselves in Him, and some day to enter into His joy and share in it for all eternity.
So, the Bible reveals the joy of Jesus by describing the fact of His joy, the object of His joy, and the character of His joy. And, since joy is a fruit of the Spirit – and a most pleasant and delightful experience as well – we find it a worthy pursuit to know His joy more so we can experience more of it.
This is the fourth in a series of posts about joy. You can find the others by scrolling down on the main blog page.