John 15:11,“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Most of you reading this have never met me, but I used to be quite the scrooge during the holidays, especially Christmas. At the time, it never felt intentional or overt. I did not walk around thinking about how to steal people’s joy during this season, although I’m sure I did. But I certainly did not have joy during the holiday season. Then it clicked. For full disclosure, it coincided with our oldest daughter’s first Christmas. My family loves Christmas, they always have, and all of my daughters have that same love. But for Carson’s first Christmas, I began to have joy and to love this season. What changed? I began to see who it was all about. Christ. This time of year and the whole year is about Christ. And when we know Christ, we can have joy during the holidays and know His joy.
Jesus wants us to experience joy. Have you ever thought about that? This is important to Him. In what we call the Upper Room discourse, Jesus gives His final lesson to His disciples, His parting words. Much of it concerns the coming Holy Spirit. Jesus will die, be raised again, and ascend to the Father, and this was for their good. Jesus would send another helper to them, the Holy Spirit, a helper of the same kind as Jesus.
In this section of Scripture (John 14-16), we have the familiar passage of Jesus being the true vine and His disciples being the branches (John 15:1-5). At the end of this section, Jesus tells them why He spoke these words,“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Two phrases jump off the page.
- That Jesus’ joy might be in His disciples.
- That Jesus’ disciple’s joy might be full.
Jesus, through His words, gives joy to His disciples. Many times, we lack joy because we are not taking in the words of Christ. Jesus wants His followers to have joy. The words of Christ produce joy. What a joy it must have been for the disciples to hear these words from Jesus. He is telling them He will be leaving and returning to the Father, but in the middle of it, He tells them they have His joy in the midst of it all.
When you have the joy of Christ in you, your joy will be full. Jesus doesn’t just give a little bit of joy to His disciples; He gives them the fullness of joy! How can the joy of the Son of God within us be anything less than full joy? How can you know the joy of Christ this holiday season?
These four actions will help you know the joy of Christ.
Read your Bible. Jesus said He spoke these words to His disciples so that His joy would be in them and their joy would be full. For the Christian, it is impossible to have joy apart from the word of God. Don’t just read your Bible to get through the passage; read so that you might know Christ. Scripture is about Him (John 5:39) and His words. Read to know Christ from Scripture, and you will experience the fullness of joy.
Meditate on the Incarnation. The second person of the Trinity, the Son of God Jesus, came and took on human flesh. Jesus is truly God, truly man. Jesus came on a mission. God the Son condescended to save the people the Father had given to Him. The angel told Joseph, “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus said in Mark 10:45 that He came to give His life as a ransom for many. Meditate on the wonder of the incarnation this season.
Worship with God’s people. We often think that Jesus came exclusively for individual sinners. And that is true, but it’s not the whole picture. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that Christ died for the church. The Christian belongs to a communion of saints. There is joy in the family of God because we are surrounded by people who have the joy of Christ within them. Your brothers and sisters in Christ have the fullness of joy, Jesus (John 15:11). This joy is infectious when we are around it.
Read an Advent devotional. Many good devotionals focus your thinking on Christ and the joy of being in union with Him. An added benefit is that many of these are meant to be read throughout the Advent season, so the chapters are short, giving you time to think about what you read.
How can you know and experience the joy of Christ this holiday season? Know Christ. Knowing that He is for you and that He wants you to be full of joy. Preach to yourself that the best thing you’ve ever been given is a relationship with God that Jesus Christ purchased.
So many of us look for joy in our circumstances. The holidays can be contentious and lack joy. You have to see the angry uncle or the grandmother who is never satisfied with where you are in life. That is not joyful. But even in these circumstances, Christians possess full joy because it was given to us by Jesus. Jesus has never given His disciples a gift He has taken back. Therefore, enjoy the full joy Christ has given you this holiday season and extend it throughout the rest of the year and the remainder of your life.