The Joy of Jesus’ Presence

KEY VERSE: “Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” —John 20:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 20:1-10, 19, 20

BEFORE his crucifixion, Jesus made every effort to prepare his disciples for his death, but they were so imbued with the thought that Jesus would establish his kingdom immediately they did not comprehend what he said. In John 14:27-29 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it came to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” See also Matthew 16:21; 17:22,23; 20:17-19.

After the many repeated statements by Jesus of his imminent death and resurrection, the disciples reluctantly accepted the inevitable. They did not understand the reason for his death and especially at that time, since they still clung to the hope that regardless of other circumstances the kingdom would be established then. They sorrowed at the prospect of the death of Jesus, a fact that was noted by the Lord. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned to joy … and ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”—John 16:20-22

When Jesus was actually crucified, in spite of their preparation for it, the disciples were devastated. They seemed to have lost their assurance and faith, and they were in disarray. When Mary Magdalene and others returned from the sepulcher and reported to them that angels had told them Jesus was alive, “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” (Luke 24:11) This was the first day of the week—the day Jesus was resurrected—and the disciples were in hiding for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and materialized before them and said, “Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19) The text then continues and states that the disciples were glad. We think a better way to describe their heart feelings would be ecstatic with joy. For now their hopes were revived, and although they did not fully understand the events, they were satisfied to know that even though invisible their Lord was near.

There were, however, other reasons that they would rejoice with a joy that no man could take from them, and this was because they were to receive the Holy Spirit from the Father as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him [it] unto you.” (John 16:7) And again in John 14:26 we read the words of Jesus, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom [which] the Father will send in my name, he [it] shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Jesus knew that when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples the resulting enlightenment of mind would clarify all things to them. It would be then that they would understand and appreciate why Jesus had to die as a ransom price for Adam, thus providing the means to free Adam and his race from condemnation in God’s due time. Jesus had said previously, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many [the many].” (Matt. 20:28) Jesus also knew they would then understand that they had been invited to become a part of the family of God, with the prospect of being associated with him in the wonderful work of the kingdom. He knew that they would call to remembrance his statement recorded in Matthew 19:28,29: “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would enable the disciples to call to mind these and many other promises and to discern their meaning with heart understanding and appreciation. This is when joy would really fill their hearts.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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