Full of Joy
I’m going to invite you to John chapter 16. John 16 is where we’re going to be today. We’re going to pick up in verse 16. We’re in the middle of this chapter. And while we get ready to dive into John chapter 16, I want to set a little backdrop for us leading into this text to remind us of where we are. In the gospel of Mark chapter 9, as you get to John 16, I just want to share this verse with you to set it up. In Mark 9, about a year before Jesus’ ministry gets to the point where we are in John 16, Jesus is about to go to the cross. He spent the last couple hours of His life with His disciples before He goes to the cross for six hours. But in Mark 9 is about the point in Jesus’ ministry where He starts to tell His disciples that what his future holds is death. And about a year before His ministry happens.
But it records for us this way. In Mark 9, he says, “For Jesus was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill him. And when he has been killed, he will rise three days later.'” And then verse 32 they say, “But they did not understand this statement. And they were afraid to ask Him.” So Jesus starts talking about something that could tell us in the future maybe a little distant from where they are now, but the disciples began to get a little concerned and they don’t understand what Jesus is saying. And so they don’t want to really engage the conversation. So they hear what Jesus is saying, it does not compute in their brain. And so they kind of just leave it at that. And as I thought about this coming into this text today, I thought in my own life I’ve been in those moments where my imagination starts to run a little wild and then it starts to go to that worst case scenario place.
What if this happened? How would I handle that? What if I went through this extreme loss of a loved one or a possession just a catastrophic event. And I realized and my imagination is racing there where it’s going. And all of a sudden before it gets to the resolution point or the end of just filling the full emotion of that imagination, I just back away from it because I don’t even want to deal with it. I’m like, if that situation ever comes up, that’s when we’ll approach it. I am not thinking about that. And then when you get to John chapter 16, that is exactly where Jesus’ disciples are now. In Mark 9 they hear Jesus starts to talk about this.
They don’t quite understand what He’s saying. And they sort of put a pause button on that because they don’t want to let their mind go to where Christ is speaking of in this moment. And then in John chapter 16 and verse 6, when you finally get to that place, this is what it says about the disciples, “But because I have said these things,” Jesus talking about his death, “Because I’ve said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” And this idea of the sorrow filling their heart is one where this word filled is a very expressive word in Greek. It’s saying all other emotions have been pushed out and the only thing within their soul it’s sorrow.
And so as these disciples go through this understanding of what’s going to happen to Jesus, they’re in this deep place of despair. And then Jesus in John 16 verse 16 starts to elaborate on this circumstance and what it should mean for His disciples. And really it comes to a place that relates to all of us. Look at this in verse 16 it says, “A little while, and you will no longer see me and again a little while, and you will see me. Some of his disciples then said to one another, what is this He is telling us a little while and you will not see me and again a little while and you will see me and because I go to the Father? So they were saying, what is this that He says a little while, we do not know what he is talking about.”
Let me stop there for just a minute. And I think they’re thinking in this moment, we know hindsight what Jesus does here. But in this moment, I’ve got to just think, if I’m one of the disciples I would be looking at Jesus thinking that the pressure’s finally gotten to Him. This guy, He has cracked. A little while, here I am, a little while, I’m not here. What is happening to Jesus? We need to get him checked out. That’s what I would be looking at this moment, His disciples. And then in verse 19 he says, “And Jesus knew that they wished to question Him and said to them, ‘Are you deliberating together about this that I said a little while and you will not see me and again a little while, and you will not see me?'” And Jesus, as they’re starting to think, He’s finally lost His marbles. Jesus comes in and says, not only have I not lost my marbles, but I can read your minds because I’m God.
So Jesus declares to them the very thoughts that they’re wrestling with. And then in this moment Jesus does something incredible. Jesus chooses from this point on to focus His disciples out of all topics Jesus could pick, He chooses to focus his disciples on the idea of joy. In the pain., Jesus wants to talk about joy. And in verse 20 we find out not only does Jesus want to talk about joy, but if you grab the notes this morning, this is the first point that you have. God wants you to have permanent joy. How is Jesus in the middle of this sorrow, where all other emotions are pushed down, how has He talk about joy. Jesus wants to talk about permanent joy. Look at this, verse 20 He says, “Truly, truly I say to you,” that’s the way of saying when Jesus says what He’s saying, I’m about to say something not just true but exceptionally true. So pay attention to everything I’m about to tell you. “Truly, truly I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.”
And then in verse 22, “Therefore you to have grief now, but I will see you again. And your heart will rejoice.” Hold on to that thought rejoice because I’m going to come back to that, “But your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy away from you.” In the pain Jesus talks about permanent joy. If you’re ever going to get a message of joy in the hearts of people, I think in sorrow providing that answer is a great place. And I love how Jesus engages this here because I think sometimes when we, as people enter into pain, we’re not real good at handling pain. This is kind of how we do it as people it’s like Amy, someone going through a hard time, you’re like, oh, you lost your left arm in an accident. Well, at least it’s not your right arm. Or, oh man, you wrecked and totaled your car. Well, at least your house didn’t burn down. Or oh, your house burned down? Oh, well at least your family is okay. We have a way of, even if you lose your family, well at least you still got your life.
We don’t like to talk about the pain. We like to quickly just push it aside to move to something else that we don’t have to deal with that emotion. That’s not a great way of meeting someone in the despair of their circumstance. Well, at least it’s like saying yeah, you had that, but who really cares? Let’s talk about all the things you still got. Let’s not worry about the struggle. But that’s not Jesus. Jesus is recognizing in this first that they have grief. And what makes it so great that Jesus is talking about joy in this moment is not only does he realize that they have grief, but He’s entered into it. He is a God that cares. I love that about Christianity, different than any other God in this world that people worship. Most religions have this idea of God.
And He’s just this distant being that sort of set things in motion you better live your life to please Him. But in our faith, our God becomes personal and dwells with us. He not only as Hebrews says in chapter 4 verse 15, He not only sympathizes with us, He also empathizes with us. Meaning He sympathizes with our struggle, but then He enters into it and He goes through the same struggle and therefore becomes empathetic towards our needs. And He’s in this circumstances with His disciples talking about joy. And so then it becomes a very important questions we should ask because it’s not just joy, it’s permanent joy. So we should be saying this morning, is this even possible? And if so, how can I have it? How can my soul have permanent joy? Point number two in your blank. I think this should probably go without saying, it’s a very obvious statement, but we’ll just give it and you can tell me how profound it is later.
Joy has an enemy. Joy has an enemy. I mean, one of the reasons Jesus is saying this is because there is a battle for this permanent joy in your life. And Jesus wants His disciples to recognize this. And Jesus wants you to recognize this. There is an enemy to joy and it’s important for us to identify what it is. And so let me just tell you what it isn’t first and I’m going to tell you what it is. The enemy of joy is not sorrow. We typically when we think about joy, thinking about you’re happy and therefore the opposite of happy is sorrow and so the enemy of joy must be sorrow. But in scripture this is not true. The enemy of joy is not sorrow. In fact, what you find in the Bible is that we often experience joy and sorrow at the same time.
In fact Jesus, in between these two verses that I didn’t give to you, I’ll give it to you now. In verse 21, Jesus gives us an example that really shows us how that battle of joy and sorrow we go through in this world. He talks about labor pains, which I have no personal experience with other than watching my wife go through this firsthand. Verse 21, whenever a woman is in labor, she has pain because her hour has come. About the closest comparison I got here is kidney stones in my life. Because her hour has come. But when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.
And I’ll put my illustration there for some reason I typed my illustration. We’ll take that out next service but you could click past this, click past that. But this week, I’ll just say it. My family, my family had this experience but in a different sense, related to a child. Will you take that off, thanks. This week, yesterday actually driving to an airport. And you guys, many of you know that we’re in the middle of an adoption process and I can’t relate to the labor pain, but I can relate to the pain of losing and gaining a child. Driving to the airport, dropping our child off to head back to his home country, place of pain. We intentionally in this process have decided to take a longer route in our adoption because we know that with this child, we can use him to set a precedent as well for an opportunity for other children to be adopted.
And so we’ve taken the longer road in this process but a more intentional road to not only find the success in our adoption, but to see other children adopted. And on the way to the airport, while you grit your teeth in pain from sorrow, we’re also having a conversation of several children that are being lined up to be adopted. And in the pain there is rejoicing. Joy and sorrow in this world go hand-in-hand. Now the beauty is in Revelation 21 God tells us that one day, sorrow, tears, pain Revelation 21 verses 3 to 5, will all be gone away. But in this world, we have both sorrow and joy. In first, Peter 1:6 listen to this, “In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” By the way, today you don’t have to ask me how are family is doing right.
You already know. I know sometimes we get those awkward questions where you don’t know what else to say but I would rather talk about football and I don’t even care who wins today. Anything other than that, just we’ll talk about whatever else. But Peter is saying in this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while. If need be, you have been grieved by various trials. There is joy in the midst of sorrow. Joy is not really about getting rid of the sorrow, but really when the Bible talks about joy, the way it describes joy is that there is a joy that is more buoyant than sorrow. It floats above the sorrow, it rises to the surface. And in second Corinthians, 4:17, “For our monetary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison.” In the midst of struggle there is a joy.
At first this week when I realized this text was coming, I was a little flustered by the fact that I’m talking about joy today. But then I said to myself, but what better day to talk about it? Because in our lives we have both your joy and sorrow. And it’s important to understand when Jesus talks about permanent joy, what He’s speaking about here. So when we think about joy, what is joy? Well another word that we could use for it is this idea of gladness. But if I give it to you in an illustration, we’re in that season of life where if you haven’t done this yet, you could send someone to your, I used a unit guide at your house to do a little check on your heating unit to make sure it does not go out this year because you know that winter is coming. And when winter comes, there’ll be that day where you’re going to open up your front door and you’re going to get blasted in the face by nothing but cold weather.
But when you step back in your house and that furnace kicks on, it overrides the temperature, it overrides the cold. And joy biblically speaking, knowing in this world we have sorrow, joy works that way. It’s the furnace to your soul that when this world blasts cold air on you, there is this joy in Christ that rises to the surface and is healing to your life. So the enemy of joy is not sorrow but let’s identify what the true enemy is. This is the next blank in your notes. The enemy of joy is hopelessness.
The enemy of joy is hopelessness. Romans 15, Romans 15 verse 13, early contrast as well. It says, “Now may the God of hope,” and the product of hope you see here. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy.” So when your life has hope as a product, that’s hope you begin to experience joy. When a human being has something to look forward to, has hope in this world that you can endure some of the most difficult circumstances in life because you see the light at the end of the tunnel. With hope, you find joy. In fact, the opposite of that Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Well what it’s reminding of us as believers in Christ as we have had this healing balm in our hope in Jesus, that whenever this world throws hopelessness at us, we have this hope in Christ this joy in Christ that we get to rub into the sorrow that we experience.
In fact Christians, the Bible tells us grieve, but we grieve as people with hope. First Thessalonians 4:13, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who fall asleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.” And guys, that’s the beauty of being a follower of Jesus. You don’t have to undermine the pain. You don’t have to pretend like the struggle isn’t real, but you do have a joy that rises to the surface more buoyant, a furnace that blasts the power of Christ in your life. We don’t have to pretend like things don’t hurt, but to understand in Christ there is a joy that sustains. Next blank and your notes. Unfortunately, unfortunately, we confuse joy for a counterfeit. If you don’t know how to spell counterfeit, just look right below that in your notes. You’ll see the word counterfeit used a couple of times. But we confuse the word joy for a counterfeit.
So there is joy in Christ. I’ll get to exactly how that looks in our lives in just a minute. But I want us to know as we get ready to understand what the joy in Christ is that we really have that we often mistake it for a counterfeit. And one counterfeit is very obvious for us. It’s something that we could probably readily talk about. It’s anytime in our life we raise idols or addiction or sin over God. Like those types of things in our lives obviously become a counterfeit from following after the Lord, the joy that He calls us to in Him. Anytime you’re sending your contrary to God and therefore you’re embracing something that you believe to be more true than God and what you find out and sin. Yes, sin is fun for a season, but ultimately your joy is robbed in Christ when you follow after sin. Those are the obvious things.
But what’s not always obvious is the hidden counterfeits that we often confuse for the joy that the Lord wants to give us. And when I say that this is the next blank in your notes, we often pursue a counterfeit because we mistake what is good for what is of God. And here’s your blink, we rest in the blessings rather than the blesser. We choose to find a counterfeit joy in our lives when we choose to rest ourselves in the blessing rather than the blesser. Now, let me give you an example. Last year, maybe you got a raise at work or maybe you got a promotion at work and you celebrate that. That is a blessing. I got a raise, I got a promotion, someone acknowledged me and you celebrate that. And here, this is the blessing and you rejoice in it. But then next year came and you didn’t get a raise and you got passed up for that promotion. And you know the person that took it and you thought you were more qualified and you know what they get paid now. What happens to your joy?
Well because it rests in the blessing rather than the blesser, your joy gets all wrapped up in the things you’ve received and not the one you received it from. So therefore your joy goes away because your joy is without hope because your hope was in a pay raise. But when your hope is in Christ, when your hope is in Christ, the things that you receive in life simply become a double blessing to being connected to the greater blesser. So here’s my question for us as we just think about this for a moment, what is the motivation behind what you do and why you do it? And when you think about work and if maybe you’re pursuing a pay raise, or maybe you’re pursuing a promotion, what’s the motivation behind it? Is it just the pay raise? Is it just the promotion? You want to hear the praise of people, maybe the affirmation, maybe what’s the motivation for why you want to hear people just compliment you?
When we think about what our calling is as Christians, the Bible tells us in Corinthians 10, I think it’s 31 that whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God. Meaning our calling in this world is not to live for the praise of man. Our calling in this world is not to live for promotion. Our calling in this world is not to live for pay raise. Our calling. This world is to please Jesus in everything that we do in the abilities that he has given us in this world to bless this world through the gifts that God has given us and the talents and resources God has got us supplied us with because our life is not for those things, but for His glory.
But here’s the reality when you live your life like that and people are blessed because of that and when you wake up every day and you decided I want to do a good job today, simply because I love Jesus and want the goodness of Jesus to be seen in my life, the result of that, you do get pay raises, you do get promotions. But your motivation was never about the pay raise or the promotion. Your motivation was to live your life for an audience of one and bring Him glory. Now I’m not telling you don’t seek pay raises and promotions. I’m telling you that at all. I think when God’s people can get in good positions to leverage their position for His glory in this world, the rest of the world is better off because of that. Certainly, certainly pursue those avenues to magnify Christ in your life. And when opportunity comes, where it’s recognized, praise God. And the reason you praise God is because you’ve realized your whole life has not been about those things, but rather about Him.
And when your pursuit has been about Him and you see the fruit of that rippling into your relationships and your positions in this world, you immediately turn and not praise the blessing, but look to the blesser who’s given you the opportunity to experience those rewards. We pursue counterfeit joy when the object of our affections go towards the blessing rather than the blesser. And in the end, we find our joy diminish because we focus on the wrong thing. Therefore, let’s say this, therefore I think this is the next blank in your notes. Therefore, the answer is simple. Rejoice, therefore, rejoice. In fact, look at this in verse 22, he said it, “Therefore you too have grief now, but I will see you again. And your heart will rejoice. And no one will take your joy away from you,” permanent joy.
And why is Jesus saying this? You think about what He’s communicating to His disciples. Look, you’re right. Your hope is in me. That’s where your hope should be and I’m going to die. And you think that’s it. You think that’s it. But I’m going to give you an opportunity to not just have joy, but to rejoy. To rejoy in me.
This is one of those commands in the Bible that we don’t take seriously Because it seems too happy. Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again, I say rejoice.” Or first Peter1:8, “You greatly rejoice with joy and expressible and full of glory.” What’s He saying? Was He saying this because joy has a competitor? You need to re-preach the gospel to yourself every day. That’s what He’s saying. Joy, this joy is rooted in everything that Jesus has for us and the victory that He’s won for us. And therefore because I have that victory permanently in Christ and no one can take it away and I can live for that glory, I am called in scripture to continue to rejoy in it, rejoy in it. And here’s why, it’s because the world wants to give you a dirty cup of water telling you it’s clean and ask you to drink it. And if you buy into it, you’ll learn to put your hope in the blessing, not the blesser.
And so we, as people are called to rejoice, to continue to reorient our lives to the motivation that drives us, the conviction for which we rest in. Which is today and every day I can live not for the praise of people, not for the promotion, not for the income increase, but I can live my life for the glory of God to the benefit of other people. I get to do that for my king. The world will tell you a gospel tale, but they will call a gospel tale that stinks. And it will lead to a place of hopelessness, whether now or at some point in the future it will get there. But Jesus’ story, Jesus’ gospel lives forever. And therefore, your joy could be rooted in Him for evermore. So what are some ways to rejoice? What are some ways to rejoice?
I think when we talk about rejoicing, maybe one of the mistakes that we think is that it means you’ve got to just smile and cheer and celebrate. And it’s certainly a component of rejoicing. That’s a way that rejoicing can be expressed is that attitude of high praise and celebration. But it’s not the only way. In fact, I think if we don’t think about the idea of rejoicing in a little deeper than just a shallow emotional praise, shout hallelujah, then we’re going to miss what the fullness of rejoicing could look like in our lives. And in fact in verse 23 and 24, Jesus goes on and starts to speak to His disciples in a way that I think explains rejoicing in a way that reminds us that the avenues that we take in worship is a form of rejoicing.
Let me just show you this. It says in verse 23, “In that day, you will not question me about anything. Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive so that your joy may be made full.” I think about the disciples here. I ask the question, He’s obviously talking about prayers. So your next blank starts with a P is prayer, let me tell you why. The disciples, go back to that for just a minute sorry. The disciples are in this moment. You could think where their heart is, the sorrow that they’re going through. What’s the one thing they would be praying for? Jesus. Jesus, I don’t want this to be over. Jesus, I don’t want you to die.
Jesus I want you. And Jesus says in this story, if you just pray seeking, if you just ask the Father, just take that sorrow and let Him know, I’m telling you, your prayers will be answered because in your life, I’m not going anywhere. Three days of sorrow, I see the resurrection of Christ and they have reason to rejoice forever more because they know what Jesus has promised them will continue to endure because nothing not even death can stop it. Their hope for His glory. And guys, let me just say this. In your life when you pray, if you pray with the right intentions, if you’re praying in the right heart, you’re praying as an individual rejoicing. And here’s why, Jesus tells us when we pray, we pray in His name. And if you think about what that means, if Jesus in this moment died and that was it, nobody’s going to go to before the Lord praying in Jesus’ name there’s no authority in it. He’s dead, who cares.
But because He lives, because He lives, there is power in the name of Jesus. So when you come before the Lord and you’re praying in Jesus’ name, that is a statement of rejoicing in the gospel. The only reason I come before you now is because of the authority of Christ made known in my life that He died for my sins that I could be declared righteous in your presence. And in your presence I am able to be forevermore in the name of Jesus amen. The idea of praying and praying in Christ’s name is a measure of rejoicing in what the gospel has accomplished in your life. Rejoicing isn’t just about being happy and celebrating. Rejoicing can look in the life of the disciple. One who kneels in prayer before God, or stands in prayer before God lifting up holy hands before your king because of the message for what you live for that’s been made known in Christ and His resurrection rings true. That gives your life hope and in that hope becomes a place of rejoicing.
A second is this, verse 33. And I know I’m skipping a little bit ahead here to get to this but verse 33, these things I have spoken to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage, I have overcome the world.
Mark of Jesus’ disciples starts with a P, peace. I think a mark of rejoicing in your life is a mark of peace. When we think about the idea of rejoicing and then peace hand-in-hand, those two things you might draw a little bit different. When someone says, draw me a picture of someone rejoicing and draw me a picture of someone in peace. But those things aren’t in conflict with one another. That the same soul that is experiencing peace and displaying peace is only able to walk in the type of peace that God talks about because his soul rejoices in what the gospel represents to them.
Jesus has won, my past is forgiven. My future is bright and He’s with me in this moment. So whatever I’m about to walk through today, I know He has already been there and He is there with me right now. And because of that, nothing is a surprise to Him. And in that then because I am His, and He loves me, my soul has peace. My soul has peace. I can’t control what other people do, but I can control where I am in Christ and who I am in Christ and how I perceive my position in Christ. And the way I walk in this world because of Christ. And thanks be to Christ because in that it gives my soul peace and recognizing that peace gives opportunity for my soul to rejoice in this king.
So when you think about joy, my joy then is rooted in hope. In these moments, probably one of the more interesting things, In these moments that the disciples soul we’ve seen verse 6 in a place of tremendous grief, but here’s what’s incredible. The very same event that has brought them to a place of despair, it’s going to become the very same event that leads their lives to praise God both now and for all of eternity. I love that about the emblem of our lives which is the cross because when I get to that place of despair and struggle in the world of sorrow, I know within Christianity, there is this cross and it stands as a place for me that always says, God cares.
God cares because He’s come and He’s come from me. And He’s given His life for me. And He’s taken one of the worst days in all of history, the worst day in all of history, the place where the disciples saw no hope and He turned it into a place of continual hope for all of eternity so that our souls could look at that picture. And in us know that there is always hope in Christ. And in that hope there is reason for my life to rejoice both now and forever in Jesus’ name.