For all the sorrows that lay upon His heart and the heaviness of the cross He had to bear, there can be little question that Jesus impressed people as a very contented person. When He spoke about His joy nobody had to ask Him what He meant. It never seemed strange to those who knew Him best that He should talk to them about His gladness. They were so familiar with it in their daily conversation, even when everything was dark and menacing, that the mention of it never took them by surprise. His enemies described Him as a wine-bibber, and that does not suggest a gloomy person. He called Himself a bridegroom, and the ideal bridegroom is a radiant person. We want children to be men and women; He wanted men and women to be children, and children, whatever else they may be, are extraordinarily carefree little beings. How, then, shall we explain this gladness of the Man of Sorrows? How did He maintain, through darkest hours, this unworrying and radiant heart? It is profoundly helpful to meditate on that.
Jesus Never Swerved From His Appointed Task
Supremely faithful to His high vocation, our Lord shone in the tranquil radiance of fidelity. One of the deepest attributes of duty is that the doing of it always leads to gladness. Wordsworth says of the man who does his duty that flowers laugh before him in their beds. To have a vocation and to hold to it, in spite of seductive and alluring voices, is the source of half the singing in the world. In the World War, in spite of all its sorrow, there was more singing than I ever heard before. Millions had something great to live for: something that was great enough to die for. And one of the sources of the joy of Jesus was that something great enough to live and die for had been given Him in the ordering of God. Voices called Him, as they call us all. Sometimes they bore the accents of a friend. He was urged to be careful and to guard Himself and to shun the agony of Calvary. But to all such voices He was deaf; He set His face stedfastly towards Jerusalem, and “flowers laughed before Him in their beds.”
The Abundance of His Life
Another source of that joy of heart is to be found in the abundance of His life. We all know how when life is rich and full there comes to us a kind of inward radiance. Seasons arrive when life is at the ebb, and then “melancholy marks us for her own.” But when the tide of life comes to the full again, immediately everything is different. The grasshopper has ceased to be a burden; everything is clothed in vivid coloring; in the dreariest period of bleak February we awaken in the morning singing. That is not only true of physical life; it is true of life in every sphere. It is “more life and fuller” if the jarring is to be changed into a song. How profoundly significant it is, then, that Jesus should be the enemy of death and should quietly affirm I am the Life.
All sin in its last results is impoverishing: of such impoverishing our Lord was ignorant. The life of God flowed through Him like a river, unchecked by any barrier of evil. Moment by moment drawing for His need out of the boundless life within His Father’s heart, He had a joy the world could never give and could never take away.
Jesus Never Doubted God
The deepest root of all Christ‘s joy was that He never doubted God. And if ever a child had cause to doubt his father, I make bold to say that it was Jesus. Sent of God, He was a homeless wanderer: the Son of Man had not where to lay his head. Sent of God, men turned their backs on Him: He came to His own, and His own received Him not. Sent of God, He was ridiculed and mocked; He was beaten and insulted, and the nails were driven into His hands and feet. In such a life to trust was victory, and victory always is conjubilant. To live as He did, in a faith unfailing, is the victory that overcomes the world. That is why, right through the life of Jesus, there “steals on the ear the distant triumph song,” sung not in celestial bliss but in the shame and agony of our mortality.
Why is a child such an unworried little creature? It is because he trusts his father and his mother. Why is the boat passenger untroubled in the tempest? It is because he absolutely trusts the captain. And the deepest root of the joy of Jesus was a trust in His Father which was perfect and which never faltered in the darkest hour. Why should you and I not live like that? The victories of Christ were won for us. A Christian does not so much win his victories as he appropriates the victories of Christ. Live as He did, trust as He did, keep the heart open to the inflowing tide, and in the dreariest days of February the time of the singing of the birds is come.
Dear Jesus, help me enjoy the joy that you enjoyed and still enjoy. That I may know the Power of your resurrection. Thank you Lord for your Holy Spirit as our comforter in Jesus’ name.