That Your Joy May Be Full, John 15:11-17

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11.

The dictionary defines joy as the emotion of great happiness or delight as caused by something good or satisfying; an uncommon thing in this day and age.

And here we have Jesus who is described as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief telling the disciples that it is possible for His joy to remain in them and that theirs and our joy may be full.

“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm [strength] of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him [God the Father] as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:1-3.

If Christ had joy, what was it in? Several things come to mind. Jesus must have found joy in weddings because they were symbolic of Christ and His bride which He will gather to Himself just before the tribulation.

The passage quoted below takes place at the end of the tribulation.

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:6-8.

The Lord must have felt great joy at weddings because they were in obedience to His commandment for a man and woman to marry creating a stable environment to raise a family.

“Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:22-24.

Another reason Jesus must have felt joy at weddings, was because they are such joyful occasions. I seriously doubt that the Lord sat in a corner and scowled at all the frivolous fun people were having at the wedding at Cana (John chapter 2).

A lot of hard work and hard earned money go into these weddings. They are fun and serious affairs that affect the lives of a man and a woman; not a bunch of rich jet setters, party, party, partying.

Jesus must have felt great joy when He looked into the eyes of a blind man who could suddenly see. What joy to see a man whose legs may have been mangled in an accident suddenly restored whole with his family embracing him in speechless wonder.

Think of the look of great joy and amazement that crossed the face of the widow of Nain when Christ raised her son from the dead (see Luke 7:11-17), He too must have felt joy.

Jesus must have felt great joy when He fed 5000 hungry people and later fed 4000; joy when He looked into the faces of those crowds and saw belief in Him and His words.

Jesus had another joy, the joy of saving a world of humanity doomed by sin to eternal damnation. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ’s payment for our sins should also share in that joy.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2.

Can we feel such joy? We can if we abide in Christ just as the branch abides in the vine (John 15:4-5), and keep His commandments to abide in His love (John 15:10-11).

There is joy whenever we lead someone to Christ, joy when we are able to help others in need, joy when we gather with other Christians to worship God or to have fellowship at a picnic or potluck.

Joy when a word lifts another’s spirit, joy when we can help others grow in Christ and begin to abide in Him.

Anyone who has ever had a lousy job knows how miserable it is. However, in Christ, it is possible to know that He has your well-being in mind whatever your circumstances may be.

While that may not make the job any easier, you know that you are not alone and can turn to Him in prayer, either to help with the job or perhaps even, to get you out of it.

The point I am trying to make is this, abiding in Christ is to turn your problems over to Him in prayer – relying on Him to help. You still have to work through the problem, but you have turned the outcome of it over to God. If you can truly leave the solution to your problem in the hands of Christ you will find relief and joy.

Any trial or problem should always be examined, with the first question being, did I bring this on myself with my own willfulness? This brings us to our next verse and question.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12.

The royal law states that you should love your neighbor as yourself, Christ’s commandment is that, “…you love one another as I have loved you.”

In another place Jesus brings out that the whole law is hinged on loving your neighbor and loving God supremely (Mark 12:28-34). Anything one does has to be compared to this commandment.

A person who loves their neighbor does not defraud them, does not steal from them, does not defame them, does not covet or commit adultery with their spouse, does not physically harm them, nor murder them.

One does for his neighbor what they would have done for themselves. And who is your neighbor? Anyone and everyone is your neighbor, see the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.

The Christian must continually check their attitude and their actions. Do they run down their boss to their coworkers, do they gossip, or backstab another, are they jealous of another’s success.

Do they pilfer from the company, no matter how small, everyone is part of the company, even if they are not being treated fairly, it still means pilfering from the company is to steal from fellow workers.

Wasting a co-worker’s time by talking to them while they are trying to work is also pilfering, robbing them as well as the employer.

There is no such thing as a little white lie or venial sin, it is all sin, it is all wrong. Christ’s blood paid for all sin, but it does not make willful sin any less sin, Jesus still had to pay for it.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:13-14.

The Lord Jesus proved His love when He gave up His life on the cross for all of us. His words are for His disciples too and for all who will embrace Him as savior.

There are those who will literally lay down their lives for Christ Jesus, especially now in the Middle East where they are tortured and murdered by the tens of thousands.

We may be fortunate enough to live where Christians are merely disdained or mocked and persecuted, yet, if we will, we too can die to the world and live to Christ.

Such an action is seemingly meaningless yet the change in Christianity would jar as many awake as the martyrs do in the Middle East, changing the destiny of many.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” 1 Peter 3:15-16.

To lay one’s life down for Christ is to “do whatever I command you.” But to do this well one must die to the world and live to Christ.

Possibly most everyone who reads the above paragraph will say, “My goodness that is a difficult statement. I’m doing the best I can already!” Well, if you are already doing the best you can do not fret, that is a good thing.

Although the Apostle Paul had died to the world, he still had this to say about himself, and it applies to us too.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise [if you don’t agree], God will reveal even this to you [God will give you light on the subject. Ryrie]. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” Philippians 3:13-16.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4.

Fix your eyes on Jesus my friends and God will bring you forward. He will never ask you to do anything that you cannot do, nor anything that He will not empower you to do.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:15-17.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15.

No longer servants, “…but I have called you friends”. In a sense the new Christian is a servant because they do, “not know what his master is doing”.

For this reason they must be encouraged to attend a Bible believing church where a mature believer may mentor them in the basics of Jesus’ teaching.

Whether or not someone becomes available, the new believer should attend a Bible study where they will have fellowship with other Christians and will be encouraged to read and study the word of God.

Jesus has put these things in place and has given us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, mature godly Christians for the benefit of the body of Christ.

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” Ephesians 4:12-14.

In this manner, the new Christian begins to learn, “…all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” and begins to know our friend Jesus.

“…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16.

The Lord tells the disciples that He chose them to be His disciples, He did not predestine them to be saved.

They were already saved either through the preaching of John the Baptist or by Christ’s words when they heard them, or were brought up by godly parents who instilled the faith of Abraham into them.

Jesus has chosen the Christian to bear fruit for Him too, but it is up to each individual whether they will accept that task or not.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17.

This is a commandment, not a suggestion. Let us not forget that, and let us strive to love others even as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.

That Your Joy May Be Full, John 15:11-17 taken from posted on 4-17-13, updated on 2-21-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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