George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Joy of the Lord
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full--Joh 15:11
The Joy of Christ Was an Intense Reality
Our Lord, especially as the days advanced, frequently spoke about His joy, and the notable thing is that when He spoke so, none of His disciples were surprised. Nobody ever asked Him what He meant. They did not look at each other in perplexity. To them it seemed entirely natural that the Master should make reference to His gladness. From this we gather that the joy of Christ was something they were perfectly familiar with, both in His radiant and lofty hours and in His periods of lowly duty. There is much that is quite dark to us unless His joy was an intense reality. There is the note of exultancy in the New Testament. There is the attitude of His Pharisaic enemies who, trained in the prophets, understood His sorrow but never could understand His joy. It was not because He was a man of sorrows that the religious leaders looked askance at Him. It was because He was a man of joy, utterly different from John the Baptist. They were looking for a lone Messiah whose face would be marred more than any man's, and our Lord proclaimed Himself a bridegroom. His joy, then, was an intense reality even on the witness of His enemies. It is because He stands at the back of the New Testament that the New Testament is an exultant book. And it is a profoundly interesting question, and a question which concerns us all, to try to discover at least some of the sources of the joy of Christ.
His Joy Resulted from the Fullness of His Life
One of the sources of His joy, for instance, was the fullness of life which He possessed. It is remarkable how often that word tidiness is brought in as descriptive of the Lord. We all know how when physical life is full, its concomitant and sacrament is joy. We see that on every hand in nature; we see it in the healthy little child. And when one thinks of the inner life of Christ and of the fullness that characterized that inner life, one begins to understand His joy. Morally, He was in perfect poise with heaven. Spiritually, He had the fullness of the Spirit. No slightest disobedience to the Highest ever cast its shadow on His soul. And that fullness of His inward life, like the fullness of physical life in nature, had its concomitant and sacrament in joy. I am come, He said, that others might have life, and that they might have it abundantly. He came to give what He Himself possessed. And that abundant life, rooted in His sinlessness and continually enriched by new obedience, was one of the splendid secrets of His joy.
His Joy Resulted from the Father's Abiding Love
Another never-failing source was His abiding in His Father's love. We see that very clearly in the verse which immediately precedes our text (Joh 15:10). From it we gather that the joy of Jesus was rooted in the presence of the Father, realized every moment that He lived. There is a well-known story of a Scots divine, how once, walking on the grassy hills, he met a shepherd with a joyless look and said to him quietly, "Do you know the Father?" And some years afterwards, so the tale is told, when the minister had forgotten all about it, the shepherd, with gladness in his face, came up to him and said, "I know the Father now, sir." That shepherd had passed out of his isolation into the great fellowship of God. He had moved out of all his worrying care into the calming certainty of love. And in a vision of that love unparalleled, the Good Shepherd lived and toiled and died, and that was one great secret of His joy. To Him it was a shelter from the storm and a shadow from the heat of life. It comforted His heart when men were mocking Him. It sustained Him in the hour of agony. His joy was not only rooted in His fullness, it was rooted in the love of Heaven which to Him, every moment that He lived, was closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet.
His Joy Resulted from His Entire Surrender to Vocation
And then we must not forget one other source: it was His entire surrender to vocation. Our Lord gave Himself, in utter self-surrender, to the task appointed Him of God. The first impression which the Gospels make on us is that of the freedom of the life of Jesus. He moves hither and thither in sweet liberty. Like the song of the thrush, His words are unpremeditated. And then we read more closely and discover that through all the varied freedom of that life, like the beat of the screw in some great ocean liner, is the throb of a sovereign dominating purpose. "I come to do thy will, O God. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me. I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." And that devotion, that utter self-surrender, that dedication to a high vocation, was for Him, as it is for every man, one of the deep sources of His joy. Neglect your work and you are never glad. Do it half-heartedly, and gloom is everywhere. But give yourself to it, with heart and soul and strength, and all the birds are singing in the trees. And it was just because our Lord so gave Himself to a vocation which led Him to the cross that "God, even his God, anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows."
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