“43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.“NIV
Before moving on, I want to linger over this 43rd verse and savour it. If every church were like this, how magnetic our influence would be. I do not think most people would automatically connect the words ‘joy’ and ‘church’. As noted previously, C.S. Lewis described joy as ‘the serious business of heaven’. But, as someone said, when people look at the church, they tend to see those who have ‘managed to extract all the bubbles from the champagne of life!’
We note here that their joy was:
- A consummate joy: It was ‘’great joy’’. It was a God-given joy. We can surely say it was the fruit of the Spirit, long before Paul wrote about it. Peter writes about being ‘’filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’’ (1 Peter 1:8). What do we know of this? Dare we ask to experience it? Might we too find, like D.L.Moody did, that it’s almost too much for a physical frame to take?
- It was a comprehensive joy: It wasn’t just for the adults. The ‘children’ also felt it. On the night I became a Christian – around the age of 7 or 8 – I was aware of a joy was so intense I wanted to bounce up and down on my bed with the sheer exhilaration! The memory of it lingers years later. Oh, may God bless our children with His joy which will be their strength.
- It was a contagious joy: The impact was far-reaching, as you can see from the final sentence. Joyful saints are a powerful advert for the gospel. The ‘’great sacrifices’’ offered in the Old Testament were but a foretaste of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. How much more joy is now possible for those who trust in Christ.
PRAYER: Lord, please fill us with your joy.