Songs are powerful in that while they may be simple, they convey profound truths. If you grew up in church, most likely you sang many children’s songs. A few of my favorite ones were always about having the joy of Jesus in my heart. They were fun to sing, but they also were songs that reminded us of the profound promises of Jesus to His disciples. The lyrics of one song declares, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay! And I’m so happy, so very happy, I have the love of Jesus in my heart.” Another song says, “I’ve got joy down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. Jesus put it there and nothing can destroy, …stroy, …stroy it!” Both of these little tunes are theologically profound and are simply the promises of Jesus found in John 16:16-24 for His disciples.
A Little While: Resurrection!
As Jesus was going to the cross, He predicted that the disciples would not see him in a “little while” but then again in a “little while” they would see Him again. The context of this passage confirms that Jesus was clearly speaking about the events that were soon to happen. By a “little while” Jesus meant in the next twenty-four hours something was going to happen which would cause the disciples to no longer see Him. And that “little while” would only last 3 days, as Jesus would be crucified and buried in a grave. But then in a “little while” they would see Him again. This certainly is a reference to His resurrection.
The disciples were overwhelmed with trouble in their hearts about the prediction of Jesus leaving them and going back to His Father (Jn 14:1, 16:6). And those emotions would be increased once they would see their long-awaited messiah die at the hands of the Romans (Luke 24:17). But gloriously Jesus said that they would see him again in just a “little while” and that their hearts would rejoice” (Jn 16:22). Jesus knew that He was going to rise from the dead. And indeed, the disciples did see Jesus just three days later when He appeared to them in the upper room (John 20:19-23). It was at that time that their joy was restored. When they saw Jesus, they were full of rejoicing (Jn 20:20).
The resurrection is the foundation of every believer’s joy. First, the resurrection proves that Christ has power over death, conquering it once and for all. The resurrection of Christ proves that God the Father accepted the atoning sacrifice that is the basis of every believer’s salvation. Second, the resurrection is joy for all true believers because it means that we will also never experience the second death. Jesus promised that those who believe that He is the “resurrection and the life” will also never die (Jn 11:25). The resurrection proves that all of the promises of Jesus are true.
Jesus promised that when this joy came to His disciples, “no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). This is a profound promise. There are not many things in this life that are irrevocable. But this joy that comes from Christ is a binding, irreversible, permanent joy. People cannot take joy away, nor can any horrible circumstance! This divine gift that comes to us at our conversion is certainly the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us (Gal 5:22). This is why the Apostle Paul can command believers to “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice” (Phil 4:4). Paul could command this while he was sitting chained in a prison cell because this joy resides in the heart of every believer never to be taken away, even amid the worst of circumstances.
For sure the joy we experience in this life is a veiled joy, shrouded with the sorrows and difficulties of this life that are common among all men. But there is a day coming when ultimate joy will be experienced in full. King David wrote that “in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11). There is a day coming in the next life when we will experience the full measure of God’s joy in heaven, in the presence of Jesus our Savior. At that time every tear will be wiped away, death shall be no more, and there will be no more mourning, crying, pain or death (Rev 21:4). While we only know the joy of Jesus in our hearts in part, the promise of Jesus is that we will one day know that joy fully in heaven. Sadly, the opposite is true for unbelievers. This life is the only joy they will ever experience. When they die, unbelievers will only experience everlasting sadness and sorrow. This is why we must tell others the good news.
Motivated to Tell Others
In a world of so much sorrow, sadness, sickness and death, we should be motivated to tell others about how they can have this real joy. Joy is not found in material possessions. No one is ever comforted on their death bed with their possessions. The world is seeking joy in all the wrong places. But we have the answer! God made mankind with a desire to have fullness of joy. We must be ready to share the good news to others when their hearts are full of trouble. Hopefully they will see that the trouble of this life never robs us of our true joy. And when they ask us why we have such peace and joy in the midst of life, we must be able to tell them: “It’s because of Jesus!”