Dictionary.com says joy is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good. In secondary meanings, it uses: pleasure, delight, glad feeling, and festive. Then there is this verse from the Bible referencing Jesus’ and joy: “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Are Dictionary.com and the Bible at odds?
I’ve heard a thousand sermons on the horrors of crucifixion. You have too, and even the most eloquent minister cannot capture what Jesus endured on the cross. It was hardly a delight, a happy occasion, or a festive mood. Yet, the verse says He had joy.
Why does this matter? Trying to put ourselves in Jesus’ place and comprehend His joy is conjecture. It presumes that we can know what He felt, endure what He felt, and do so without being crucified.
Here is why this is important: The Bible says that not only Jesus had joy, but you and I have joy as well. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit, in fact.
This is good news at a high level. If Jesus had joy midst crucifixion, I must have joy midst the trials that plague me. And while I can’t feel what Jesus felt during crucifixion, I do possess the self-awareness to emote during my angst. However, joy is not the first descriptive word that leaps to mind to describe my emotional state. What gives day-to-day?
There is compatibility between Dictionary.com and Hebrews 12:2. The compatibility is between “something exceptionally good” and “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It is exceptionally good that Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, not only for Him, but for us as well. In fact, our joy is anchored in the fact that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.
Joy is ours absolutely because joy is not circumstantial. (Better read that again.) Joy is visionary and retroactively applicable today.
It is religious tripe that we are supposed to display placid smiles and utter spiritual sounding dismissals in the face of difficulty. Joy is not denial.
On the contrary! Joy enables us to embrace whatever life dishes out because of the vision of joy: that Christ is seated at God’s right hand and advocates and encourages us on higher ideals; that the Spirit lives in us and exudes joy; and that we live beyond and therefore have confidence in the midst.