“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)
I continue to study the Scriptures after many decades because they hold so many wonderful secrets I never, ever saw before. Like this morning. These words are from Jesus’ extended ‘famous-last-words’ to the disciples in the Upper Room, just before all the hell of the crucifixion breaks loose. The idea in them that I never saw before: that according to Jesus, “love” is the path to “joy.” “Complete” “joy” at that. Jesus is talking about “my love” and “my joy.” The Gospels are an encyclopedia of Jesus’ love. Forgiving-and-forgetting love. Enduringly-patient love. Tough-when-necessary love. Truth-and-grace-filled love. And we can see that Jesus was joyful — in his own way — even in the most hellish circumstances. The Greek word in the text is “agape'”: unselfish, unconditional, volitional love, despite-all-the-unlovable-characteristics love. When we have that kind of “love,” our lives blossom with “joy.” It occured to me this morning that when I get conditional, envious and crabby with people it’s like spraying Roundup on roses — it kills the beauty I’m seeking. Jesus tells us over and over again that they key to human life is “love.” And to lead us in that direction, Jesus installed a joy-response within us when we do. “Love… then… joy.”
Lord, your truth is always simple. I will love my way to joy today. Amen.