The Unsurpassed Joy of Jesus

The Bible overflows with the joy of God.

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)

Jesus has more joy than any other being.  Surely that points to the fact of His joy.  Psalm 16 strengthens this conclusion.

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

I am not saying anything profound when I say that if Jesus were moody or gloomy or sullen rather than full of joy, there could not be pleasures forevermore at His right hand.[1] We could never expect to have more joy than our creator – and heaven could only be as happy as God is.

Peter applied the words of Psalm 16 to Jesus, especially the “pleasures forevermore” of verse 11. 

For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. (Acts 2:25-28)

The risen Christ is glad with the very joy of God.  “The glory of Christ is his infinite, eternal, indestructible gladness in the presence of God.” (Piper, p 37)

So then, the Son of God is full of joy because God the Father is full of joy.  The joy of Jesus is the joy He shares with the Father – specifically, His joy in His Father Who rejoices in Him. 

Consider then (as we did in an earlier post) the joy of God.  We see His joy in the way He rejoices in all the works of His creation.

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. (Psalm 104:31)

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)

The creature cannot have more joy than his creator.  The creature’s response to God’s works of creation are a reflection of the Creator’s response to those same works.  In other words, the sons of God do what they see God doing.  The sons of God cannot shout for joy unless they see their Father Himself full of that same joy.

God displays His joy especially in His delight in the people He has redeemed.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalm 37:23)

Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. (Jeremiah 32:41)

And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: (Deuteronomy 30:9)

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. (Psalm 35:27)

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

God enjoys the prayers of His people:

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. (Proverbs 15:8)

God delights in us:

The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 147:11)

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (Isaiah 65:19)

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

We never see the joy of God more completely than in His dealings with His only begotten Son.  God made His delight in His Son abundantly clear throughout His life.  Isaiah prophesied of this delight of the Father in His Son, and Isaiah’s prophecy is applied to Jesus in Matthew 12:18:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1)

At His baptism, God announced it:

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)

At the mount of transfiguration, God repeated it:

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)

Though it is a great mystery, we must not overlook the Father’s particular joy in the death of His Son on the cross.  This might be hard to wrap your brain around, but nonetheless, it is a part of the sacred record of the joy of God.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)

Ephesians 5:2 describes the offering of Christ in a way that distinctly displays the joy God takes in the sacrifice of His Son:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

No doubt much more than this could be said.  It would be impossible to speak exhaustively about the fact that God is a joyful God.  God the Father is a joyful God, and His Son shares in that joy.  God rejoices in the work of His Son to redeem the world, and Jesus rejoices to do that work.  God rejoices in the product of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, and Jesus delights in those He has redeemed. 

Surely then, the joy of Jesus Christ is unsurpassed.

[1] My debts to John Piper in his descriptions of joy should be evident throughout this article.  In particular, much of the material throughout this post was influenced by Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, especially the 4th chapter: “The Indestructible Joy.”  Though I cannot fully endorse Piper, I highly recommend his teaching on joy.  As with any other writer, evangelical or otherwise, he should be read with discernment.

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