17:12 "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves."
Today Jesus continues praying for His disciples. Yesterday He asked that they may become One in character with Himself and God the Father. Today He is asking that they might have His joy in themselves. This request really hit me today for two reasons. The first is that Jesus didn't seem all that joy filled when He was here. The second reason is because I haven't been all that joy filled myself lately.
First let's look at Jesus. He didn't seem very joyful when Satan was attacking Him in the wilderness with his temptations. He didn't seem very joyful when He walked into the temple to find it full of animals and money changers. He didn't seem very joyful when a man with a withered hand came into a synagogue one Sabbath morning and was treated like a leper. In fact it says Jesus looked at the congregation in anger. He never seemed very joy filled when His disciples showed a lack of faith on multiple occasions. He certainly didn't seem too full of joy at the tomb of Lazarus. I could go on but I think we get the point.
Lately, and especially since Friday, I have been less than joy filled. As I watch the media and society drawing lines and dividing over racial lines, political lines, religious lines, sexual lines, etc... and see the resulting vitriol and hatred being spewed often by both sides I see little reason for joy. It appears we on a crash course with some kind of hate inspired showdown.
It's in this frame of mind that I came to this passage this morning where Jesus is asking His Father to give His eleven His joy. Really? What joy is He talking about?
Then it hit me. Jesus was not talking about happiness or joy created by our immediate circumstances. It was just the opposite. He well knew their immediate future was about to get worse not better. He knew their moments of happiness created by life's moments would be few and far between. It was precisely because of that reality that He made this seemingly odd request. He knew they would need a joy that had a much deeper source than every day events.
Here is the illustration God gave me this morning. So far this fall we have had little rain and little snow. Typically this is the wettest time of the year here. If things persist as they are the surface of the ground will be dry next summer. Maybe even a drought. But guess what? Even if the surface gets very dry we will have water. Why? Because the source of our water is deep down below the surface where it is little affected by what happens far above on the surface.
Jesus had a joy so deep in His heart that even though sometimes He seemed less than joyful, none of those surface moments could really impact His joy. It had a deeper source. In His heart He knew who He was, where He had come from, where He was going, and what His mission would accomplish. He knew even though His own disciples would not always do the right thing or make Him proud or bring Him glory in every moment, ultimately they would be His forever. He revealed the true deep source of His joy when He said "You will deny but don't let your heart be troubled. In My Father’s house are many rooms. I am going to prepare a place for you... that where I am you will be also."
Jesus always kept His eye on the finish line and we must keep our eyes on Him. That is the source of the unshakeable joy He wants us to have.