Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court for 30 years. His mind, wit and work earned him the unofficial title of “the greatest justice since John Marshall.”
One time Justice Holmes was asked about his career choice. He answered by saying, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.”
Sadly, Holmes observation is sometimes true, not only of preachers but some Christians. However, if Tim Jennings had lived then, Holmes might have made a difference choice.
Jesus’ life was characterized by joy. When the angel appeared to Shepherds announcing Jesus’ birth, he said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10).
Jesus’ ministry was punctuated with joy as he healed the sick, mentored the apostles, and preached the good news. His messages were positive, uplifting and encouraging. Even when he spoke regarding possible persecution for his followers, he admonished, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt 5:12).
The Jesus I read about in the gospel accounts was not a dour, sour, pessimistic person. He radiated joy. He brought a smile to the face of little children. And he gave sinners like the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and the woman caught in adultery a reason to rejoice.
Even in the shadow of his impending death, Jesus would lift the sorrowing hearts of the apostles, by promising, “your sorrow will be turned into joy” (Jn 16:20). “These things I have spoken to you,” Jesus encouraged,”that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:11).
Here are the 5 major points I took away from Tim’s lesson that can fill our hearts with joy.
(1) Rejoice in your salvation.
Those who received Jesus found joy. Following the Ethiopian Treasurer’s conversion, “he went on his way rejoicing” (Ax 8:39). The pagan Philippian jailer “rejoiced” after his sins were washed away.
Tim Jennings was right. Sin saps our souls of joy. But when we come to know “the joy of salvation” (Ps 51:12), we can rejoice in spite of living in a fallen, broken world.
(2) Rejoice that your life has significance.
Beginning with Jesus’ mother, Mary, who was chosen to carry the Christ-child, to those who were converted to His cause, and proclaimed His message, lives were changed. Doors of opportunity were opened. Hope was elevated. And a life of meaning, purpose, and significance was experienced.
What on earth are you here for? Tim’s answer was simple. “I am here for him.” The atheist, Bertrand Russell was right, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” But He does exist. And Jesus lives. That provides my life purpose. And joy.
(3) Rejoice in your spiritual family.
The apostle Paul found joy in the family of Believers (1 Thess. 2:19-20). God created us for community. He formed us for family. And provided a place to belong. We can rejoice in our relationships with fellow Christians in Jesus’ spiritual Body, the church.
(4) Rejoice in the lost being saved.
The trilogy of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15 reminds us that the angels in heaven rejoice when the lost are found. So, should we. There’s no greater joy than seeing sinners come to Christ. Unless it is a personal involvement in their obedience.
(5) Rejoice that you have a heavenly home.
John symbolically paints a picture of heaven in the book of Revelation. It’s a place of joy. No tears. No sorrow. No heartache. No sickness. No death. It is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of preparing a place for us (John 14;1-3).
“Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing, observed S. D. Gordon. “Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman