We often speak of the joy that we share because we are in the Lord. We
have hope, our lives have purpose and meaning, we know we are loved, etc. But, as wonderful and necessary as that view is, it is essentially selfish—what do I get out of it? Do we ever stop to wonder what Jesus gets out of it?
In the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus spoke extensively to the
eleven apostles and stated the purpose of his discourse, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Their joy was made full when they met the resurrected Lord, when they inaugurated the kingdom of promise and prophecy, when they openly defied the leaders who had crucified Jesus. How did Jesus have joy in them?
We must also wonder if we as offspring of the apostles are also to be a
source of joy to Jesus, and if so, how? “Looking unto Jesus the author and
perfecter of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). The joy before him cannot have been his return to heaven since he had been with the Father since before time. He left that and suffered the cross for some other joy so great that he considered that double sacrifice worth it. We, the saved, are that joy.
When one keeps his commandments, he abides in Jesus’ love; if he abides
in Jesus, he bears much fruit. Bearing fruit glorifies the Father. Thus do we
bring joy to Jesus. This joy was the focus that led him to the cross.
Remembering Jesus’ words in John 15, John matured to the same attitude, “No greater joy have I than this, to hear of my children walking in truth”
(3 Jn 4).
We need to measure our progress toward spiritual maturity by the things
we take joy in. Yes, it is nice that our team won, great that our kids are honor
roll students, special that we lost some weight, but are we bringing joy to
Jesus? That happens only if we keep his commandments. Truth is not unknowable nor exists in shades; it is clear and doable. We can know whether we are in the truth if we are bearing fruit. This is measured by the lives we touch, by the changes in the life we live (Gal 5:22-24). Finally, we reach for
an even higher level, to find our joy in the fruit-bearing obedience of others.
The greatest joy is not our achievements but the godly walk of others stimulated by our service to Jesus.