At Christmas time in 2018, I wrote my first joy journal in Eternity about why I was not feeling joyful even though I had so much to be joyful about.
Fast forward to Easter, 2021, and I’m still thinking about joy. This time, though, it’s how the strange lens of crucifixion fixes my gaze again upon the joy of following Jesus.
Actually, Jesus’ horrible murder is but a starting point for returning to joy, a subject and reality too often overlooked (or ignored) in Christian circles. You know what I’m talking about. Even though Christians are people with joy growing in them – it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit; look it up (Galatians 5:22) – we can be some of the most un-joyful around.
How many Christians do you know that cannot be accused of radiating joy? From social media comments to complaints over morning tea after the Sunday service, Christians can be just as sour, disgruntled or hopeless as anybody else who is weighed down by our world. Almost as if we didn’t know any other way …
But stop to take another look at the way Jesus’ death worked out, three days later. The resurrection of Jesus – yes, I know, back from the dead! How incredible – is proof that he’s the divine saviour God appointed him to be (as Acts 17:31 points out).
The demonstration of God’s power over sin on that third day after Jesus’ crucifixion is such great news for you or me that its forgivable if you’ve forgotten how great. Let me remind you – and me – this Easter Sunday: what Jesus achieved for us by dying and rising is nothing short of redemptive and righteous. Big words pointing to bigger truth about sin being dealt with, and eternal life being offered.
What Easter Sunday perpetually attests about Jesus should cause joy to involuntarily erupt from every fibre of my being.
Gone are the deathly clouds of ‘Good’ Friday’s atrocities; let the sun shine in of Easter Sunday’s light of the world. There is life to be had, and life in abundance. Now, it is possible for us to be in the sort of deep relationship with God that just is not possible any other way.
As I write all this, I can feel my inner coals of joy being fanned into flames. How can joy remain stifled within my humdrum self as I take just a few moments to take stock of the cross, Easter Sunday and the wonders of God in Jesus?
What other word can I conjure for how to respond to salvation than ‘joy’? Declaring what Jesus has done and continues to do lifts me above the everyday-ness of the everyday into that elevated experience of joy in Christ.
Wow. I’m really glad I volunteered to write this for Eternity for Easter Sunday. Wait. I think I’m actually joyful.
The night before Jesus went to his ghastly, gruesome death, he prayed for his disciples and everyone who would believe in him. In that lengthy prayer (recorded in John 17), Jesus told his heavenly father he soon would be with him – and that things he had spoken were “so that they may have my joy completed in them.” (17:13)
God’s Word shared the words of God, so that Jesus’ joy may be completed in those who hear and believe.
Such a promise of divine joy being fulfilled in you should send you and me running hopefully into the heart of Easter Sunday. A most joyous place to be and remain.
Happy Easter Sunday. He is risen. He is risen indeed!