December 14, 2014
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
What would it look like to have our Christmas joy complete or filled up?
Jesus, Paul, and here the author of John, all speak of complete joy. In John 3, John the Baptist, known as powerful, popular, and the last of the Israelite prophets, is baptizing multitudes. Unlike his concerned followers (John 3:26), John is joyful when his ministry begins to be eclipsed by Jesus’ ministry.
John compares himself to the best man in a wedding who “is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.”(John 3:29) John is saying he was never meant to be the bridegroom. He understood that [Jesus] must become greater ; I must become less.” (John 3:30)
Three Factors to Help Us Understand Complete Joy (John 3:22-29):
1. Joy is never complete when it ends with us (self focused).
We must turn to God. It is a desire God puts in our hearts to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.’ John rejoices when Jesus becomes greater (John 3:30). And then God turns us to invest in other people, to serve others.
2. Complete joy comes from bringing others to Jesus.
It is sharing the life, the hope, the joy we have found in Jesus Christ. The Christ life that is in us gives life to other people. John’s joy is complete (John 3:29) because he is introducing others to the Christ. We too must become reproducing branches of the Vine.
3. Sometimes, in order for joy to be complete, we must decrease.
In a sense, it cost John something (e.g., entitlement to more followers and crowds) to say that Jesus must increase (John 3:30). Sometimes, we too must decrease so that Jesus might increase: e.g., the cost of money, popularity, relationships, our time, even the location of our home. Real joy comes when it really costs us, but we do it anyway.
John could not have held onto what he gave up, because he was soon to be executed (John 2:24). Often what we give up for joy, cannot be held onto anyway.
“He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot (martyred Christian missionary)