What do you think Jesus looked like?
I don’t mean how long was his hair or what color was he skin – what was his demeanor like?
Maybe your image of Jesus looks something like the one created by Jim Caviezel in the Passion of the Christ – a somber face, serious enough to sober up anyone thinking of having a good time.
This was my view as a young Christian.
That may have had something to do with my predisposition. It may surprise you but I don’t wake up in the morning singing and dancing. By nature I am more serious and introspective. It may have something to do with the environment I was raised in – as I knew them my father and grandfather were very unhappy alcoholics and my mother lived with a great deal of suffering. It may have something to do with my early understanding of Christianity, which majored not on what God has done for us, but on what I must do for God. There are a variety of factors, but the point is I had a view of Jesus which was developed through the filtered lens of my own dispositions and experiences. We’re all like that aren’t we?
I wonder what your view of Jesus is? What experiences and dispositions are filtering your perception of Christ?
What if Jesus looked like more like Bruce Marchiano, who portrayed Jesus in the Visual Bible, a dramatization of the book of Matthew. I was initially shocked and offended as I watched Bruce’s shorter-haired, smiling Jesus who laughed, told jokes and even (gasp) rough housed with the disciples. After recovering from the initial shock, I began to seriously question my understanding of Jesus.
What if he was happy?
Our text this morning is John 15:11.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
In this verse Jesus reveals the purpose for everything he has been saying about the vine and the branches. These things I have spoken to you, that . . .
What is the purpose? That my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
In these verses we see that 1) Jesus is joyful 2) He wants you to be joyful 3) the path to fulness of joy is simple.
Do you think of God as joyful?
If you look for it, the joy of the Lord is written all over the Scriptures.
We see it in God’s creative work.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
We see an even more striking picture of God’s joy in His relationship with His people.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
And we see it in the announcement of the coming Christ.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
If we could see the Lord with us this morning, we would see a face full of joy and hear a voice ringing with gladness.
This is the joy Jesus is inviting you into. Notice that Jesus did not say, “These things I tell you, that you may have joy.” What he did say was much more personal and relational. “These things I tell you, that my joy may be in you.” The same joy which is sown throughout the fabric of the cosmos and overflowing from the Savior’s heart is available for you.
This is good news for those who are not joyful by predisposition. The offer of Jesus’ joy is an offer for those who lack joy. It’s an invitation for those whose life experience has robbed them of natural human happiness. It’s an invitation to find something you will never find in yourself and no longer have to.
How do we get that joy?
The path to joy is exceedingly complex, overly difficult and probably outside of your grasp.
Wait, that’s not what it says.
What does it say in John 15? Abide in me.
When does Jesus joy come to be in us? When we receive His Words.
Are you lacking joy? Maybe its’ because you aren’t receiving His Words.
It’s in the hearing and receiving of “these things” he has told us that the joy comes.
What if you spent the next 15 days committed to abiding in the Word of Christ? What if you spent 15 minutes each of those 15 days receiving the Word of Christ and prayed each day for the joy of Christ to fill you?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown