The quality of our joy is determined by its source. If the source of our joy is finite and capable of changing and degrading – our joys will be fickle, uncertain and unsatisfying. Many are seeking their joys in an inconstant, fading world and what it offers. Most often the source of joy relates to self – what makes us feel good. Yet, it quickly evaporates and we move on. Christ offers great joy–true, enduring and satisfying. Its source is in Himself.
Samuel Rutherford found this “joy unspeakable” in an exalted Redeemer. His great desire was that Christ would be “the morning and evening tide, the top and the root of my joys, and the heart and flower and yolk of all my soul’s delights!” He had discovered what David Dickson describes:
God laid hold upon through Christ provides not only peace, but also unspeakable joy to the believer. God reconciled through Christ is the life of the believer’s gladness…’God, my exceeding joy’.
Rutherford had proved by experience that “our joys here are born weeping, rather than laughing, and they die weeping”. “We buy our own sorrow, and we pay dear for it, when we spend out our love, our joy, our desires, our confidence, upon an handful of snow and ice, that time will melt away to nothing, and go thirsty out of the drunken inn when all is done. Alas! that we inquire not for the clear fountain, but are so foolish as to drink foul, muddy, and rotten waters…I know no wholesome fountain but one. I know not a thing worth the buying but heaven; and my own mind is, if comparison were made between Christ and heaven, I would sell heaven with my blessing, and buy Christ”. It is sin that embitters and poisons our enjoyments and deceives us. Rutherford observed that, “Sin’s joys are but night-dreams, thoughts, vapours, imaginations, and shadows”.
What will help us to “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4)? Rutherford had discovered that spiritual enjoyments, life and enlivening influences come from Christ the resurrection and the life. In other words, the source of spiritual life and great joy is especially comes from a Redeemer who is risen and exalted. The disciples experienced this great joy after the resurrection. “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). They saw with great joy the wounds He retained after His resurrection.
George Hutcheson shows how the crucified, risen and exalted Saviour is the source of great joy. By showing His hands and His side (as they had been pierced) Christ makes it clear that it was truly He who now appeared to them. Even in His exaltation Christ looks upon His sufferings for His people as His crown and glory. He will not forget how dearly His people (though worthless in themselves) cost Him.
1. Christ as conqueror is the Church’s great comfort
2. Christ wounded is necessary in all our views of Him
3. Christ is the most joyful sight that disciples ever see
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