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Week 3 September 2023, Devotion Part 1

These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11


The doorbell rings; it must be the repairman. For what has He come just now? So many things are wrong. So much is falling apart. We have lost track of the many calls we have made. No wonder! We are burdened with our neighbors’ affairs and the trials of friends as well. There are headaches and heartaches at church. What shall we tell the Lord first when He steps inside and opens His tool bag to fix things?


The doorbell rings and we fly to the door. There stands Jesus, leaning in the doorframe, wearing His biggest smile and holding out the loveliest bunch of flowers. And we? We slam the door in His face! Not once or twice, but perhaps a whole lifetime. Oh yes, we still go to heaven. But we, the “good religious,” have helped fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy, “He was despised and rejected by men…and we esteemed him not” (53:3). (Part 1 of 2)


Comment: Right now this writer is walking in the reader’s shoes, trying to see how comfortable that feels. The idea of Jesus showing up at our door in a most unorthodox way – broad smile and hand-picked flowers – might be a bit of a stretch. The pinch comes from Isaiah’s assertion that “we” didn’t esteem Him. Even before I was born again, I never “despised” Him, which is probably true for all of us who grew up in a church-going family. What if we pictured such a household as “religiously robotic,” motions dictated by a rigid sense of duty, but starved of spontaneous emotions? No ”whispering of sweet nothings” between parents who value being lovers, no shrieks of delight from kids over impromptu ice cream escapes from tyrannical homework, no banter traded at dinner… Was joy the lubricant of a stringently run Pharisaic home? When I pictured Jesus leaning in the doorframe, I was attracted to His endearing humanity that made Him long for responses of delight in view of His. “He brought me out into a broad place, he rescued me, because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).


While reading a couple of Psalms randomly at bedtime, I’d lately been struck how the word “joy” kept jumping out at me. This led me to check some research done by the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible, published in 2001 by Crossway. They found that the words “joy,” “rejoice,” or “joyful” appear a total of 430 times in Scripture, with “happy” or “happiness” only 10 times. They wisely concluded that “Joy is lasting, and it satisfies the heart in a unique and marvelous way. Joy is characteristic of God’s people, found in his presence.” Galatians 5:22-23 lists 9 fruits of the Spirit, with joy ranking second between love and peace. So, why not celebrate it creatively, with reverent gratitude for Isaiah 53, the most messianic of his writings?

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