Full of Joy!

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What best describes your ministry? Joy or jealousy?

[John said,] “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and is now complete.” John 3:29

Jealousy can be a real joy-stealer. Driven by jealousy that the crowds were now following Jesus instead of John, John the Baptist’s disciples urged him to do something.

Do something? His mission was now complete! People were following the Groom instead of the best man. They were drawn into relationship with the Message instead of the messenger. John was full of joy! Jesus was becoming greater, and he was becoming less (John 3:29-30).

John wasn’t jealous. His ministry was never about him. Even when he was locked in prison, the question he had his disciples ask of Jesus wasn’t me-centered. He simply wanted to know “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

Jesus replied by quoting Isaiah. “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (Matthew 11:4-6)

John knew the Scriptures from memory and would’ve immediately known the context of the words surrounding the blind, lame, and deaf (Isaiah 35:5-6). They landed in the middle of Isaiah’s joy-filled vision of the final kingdom!

The words preceding what Jesus told John would’ve brought great encouragement. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you” (v. 3-4). The words that followed that passage would’ve pointed John to the promise of eternal joy. The redeemed will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (v. 10).

What Jesus didn’t say about freedom for the captives or release for the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1) would’ve shattered any hopes John may have entertained about life outside of bars, but it could not steal his joy. John knew that joy wasn’t found in position, popularity, power, or even a place, but in God’s presence (Psalm 16:11).

What best describes your ministry? Joy or jealousy?

Those who radiate the greatest joy are the ones who relate most personally to God. Lydia Brownback

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