August 8 I Saturday
“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 15:10-11
Jesus connects love and obedience together. As we align our lives in obedience to Jesus, we enjoy the benefits of His love poured out upon us. But more so, our obedience brings about complete joy in Christ and ourselves. When Jesus spoke the words from the opening verse of this devotion, He knew within a matter of hours, He would be hanging from a cross, and yet, He could talk about His joy.
Jesus was not speaking of a joy that is a fuzzy, happy feeling. The joy Jesus was describing transcends our circumstances; it is a deep inner joy that can be found even when the world around us is falling apart and even when we are going through persecution or pain. A joy that is not tied to what is happening around us; rather, it is a joy that is about an unbroken connection with the Father. Just as Jesus was inviting His disciples into the joy of obedience to the Father’s will, when we align our lives in obedience to God, Jesus’s joy becomes our joy.
We see this type of joy in the book of Acts. The religious leaders that crucified Jesus started to persecute the disciples. The religious leaders charged the disciples strictly to cease preaching in the name of Jesus. But Peter retorted, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). This enraged the religious leaders to the point that they wanted to kill the disciples. And in the midst, Gamaliel, a well-respected teacher of the law, stood in the Sanhedrin and convinced the religious leaders not to put these men to death. Instead, the disciples were flogged, ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus and then released.
Interestingly, the disciples’ beating that was supposed to produce fear and compliance to the commands of the religious leaders had a different effect. We are told, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:41-42).
Obedience to Jesus brings about joy, but it does not mean that life is going to be easy. We may be obeying Jesus and doing exactly what He wants us to do and life could be difficult. After all, the disciples were doing what Jesus wanted them to do and they were flogged, but our joy can transcend what is happening in our lives. As we remain in His love and obey His commands, His joy becomes our complete joy.
Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, thank You for demonstrating the meaning of complete joy by being perfectly obedient to the Father and dying on the cross for us. Teach me to follow You in joyful obedience.