The Source of Joy
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11).- John 15:1–17
One of the chief characteristics of the Gospel of John is his famous “I am” list. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and “I am the good shepherd,” along with many others. The last of the “I am” statements is in chapter 15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” He distinguishes that He is not simply a vine, but the authentic vine. To understand what Jesus was saying here, we must look back in the Old Testament and see that Israel was identified as God’s vineyard. Jesus, therefore, came to embody the nation of Israel itself. He is the true vine. Israel was also identified as God’s son, and Jesus, of course, is called God’s Son. We see this kind of metaphorical connection between Jesus and the nation of Israel throughout the Scriptures. In this case, where Israel failed to be the fruitful vineyard of God, Jesus came as the perfect vine.
He continues to say that every branch that bears fruit, God prunes that it might bear more fruit. The old is removed to make way for the new. Jesus teaches that pruning increases fruit; and joy, as a fruit of the Spirit, grows best when the individual is pruned by the Lord. The only way that we can maintain and even increase joy in our lives is to abide in Christ. If we are cut off from Him, we cannot expect to be joyful. It is only under the nourishing hand and tender care of our Lord that we can count it all joy.
Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” If we want to be joyful, we must be close to the source of our spiritual vitality, which is Christ Himself. Every effort we exert to be joyful is an exercise in futility if we try to do it by our own power. Without the connection to Christ, who is the source of our power, we will be fruitless. If a Christian prays infrequently, reads his Bible only occasionally, worships with the people of God irregularly or half-heartedly, he will not bear much fruit. It is not surprising that many Christians who spend little time with Christ experience little joy. This is not as it should be. Jesus tells us that only by remaining in Him will we find joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” We can know joy in this life, but it can only come from abiding in Jesus Christ.
How constant is your joy? Jesus tells us that if we want to know His joy, we must stay close to Him. Do you need more time in prayer and Bible study? Remember, many people do these things and do not abide in Christ, but trust their works instead. Commit to making those changes that are necessary for you to abide in Him.
Passages for Further Study
1 John 2:6; 2:28; 3:6