Jesus, Agent of Joy
In the classic story about the father and the prodigal son, the son runs off and squanders his father’s wealth. But when he returns, the father is so overwhelmingly full of joy that he immediately calls for a celebration and feast. When the somber-faced, hard-working older brother hears of it and becomes upset, the father tells him, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:32). Who does the father in this story represent? Who is the one saying “We had to celebrate and be glad”? I tell you, it is Jesus. It is Jesus rejoicing, it is Jesus celebrating, it is Jesus being glad because Jesus is full of joy! My brothers and sisters, this is the heart of our God—joy, everlasting, never-ending! The God and Creator of all, rejoices in and with His creation.
Joy must not be confused with happiness. True joy is not touched by outward events. The kind of joy that Jesus had and came to offer us is not based upon our circumstances, but on who God is. Because of that it is unchanging, just as He is unchanging. It was in light of this that Jesus looked into the tired faces of common man and said, “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27) True joy seems to be the normal expression of a faith that knows God is who He has promised He is.