Jesus = Joy = Jesus

Pastor Jeff Struecker

Everybody finished the song lyrics for me. Joy to the world (The world is come). If you’re sitting at home right now or here and you’re thinking I don’t get it, how can 2000 years ago a baby born in an obscure part of the world? How does that make any difference in my life?

 

We’re talking about one person in one place at one point in time. I live long ways away from there. I have a very difficult life. How on earth does that matter in my life today?

 

While I’m glad you asked that question. See what I just did there? You weren’t even thinking that. I just put that question out there because it helps me tell you about the sermon today.

 

Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about joy. You’re going to hear me say this word like, 100 times today.

 

When you hear the word joy, please do yourself a favor. This sermon is going to confuse you. You are going to leave frustrated, if in your mind, every time I say the word joy, you hear happy feelings in your stomach because that’s not what I’m talking about.

 

The Bible is going to describe (Joy) for us today. It’s actually going to use Christmas language to describe for us how joy equals Jesus when you have joy, deep seated, life altering circumstance, transcending joy that’s found in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

In the second part of the statement. When you have Jesus, you have joy. And for some of us out there that are really struggling, maybe you’re going through some difficulties in life.

 

You’re asking the question. “Hey, I prayed a prayer. I go to church, I believe the Bible, and I’m still struggling.” Well, today you’re going to see how joy transcend your circumstance. Today you’re going to see just how much of a difference joy makes in our lives.  

 

Jesus = Joy = Jesus

 

If you understand what God gives is bigger, it’s deeper than just happy feelings in the stomach. See, we’re studying through the Book of John. We’re in John, Chapter eight today, and we’re going to hear Jesus having a conversation with some religious leaders about who he is and what he’s going to try to explain to them is how he’s come to earth to give joy to all people in all places for all times, and that means he’s come to give joy to you.

 

1.   Joy pushes back darkness.

 

Here’s what we’re going to learn from Jesus. Here’s what we’re going to learn from the Book of John today. We’re going to see how joy pushes back darkness when there’s trouble and difficulty in your life and everything starts to look a little bit dark. When God shines a light down into the darkness, the darkness must go away, the darkness must Dispel, and Jesus came to give light to people that are in darkness.

 

He says that literally today, when we start reading John, Chapter eight, this begins in verse 12 and listen to the language that he uses to describe himself.

John 8: 12 Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”.

 

 

Now if you understand, when Jesus is making this statement, it’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks, because in ancient Israel in the Tabernacle or in the temple, there was a festival of lights.

 

It was a very big, very important religious ceremony, and the priest would place this humongous golden lamp stand in the middle of the temple, and then they would make this huge celebration a big deal out of lighting the lamp stand this.

 

That’s what’s happening when Jesus is in the temple area and he starts to shout to the crowds. I am the light of the world, and everyone in the crowd immediately associates what he’s saying with what they’re seeing from the religious leaders that day. He’s making it clear to them that Candlestick can only make a little bit of light dispel.

 

I’ve come so that every person all over the planet for all time we’ll be able to walk in light. And then he uses Christmas language.

 

You guys recognize this from this first right? The Famous Handel’s messiah that quotes directly out of Isaiah. Chapter nine people walking in darkness, Isaiah nine Verse two says people walking in darkness have seen a great light. “For unto us, a son is born. Unto us a son is given.”

 

If you were to ask, when Isaiah quoted that verse. Who is he talking about? Was he just talking about the Jews who lived in Jerusalem or in Israel a couple of 1000 years ago? No, because if you read right before it, Isaiah chapter nine verse one.

This is a promise that God is making to Jews and to gentiles. This includes us to all of the nations.

“I’m going to send the light, and this light that I send is going to dispel the darkness. It’s going to light up the entire world.” One little candlestick in the middle of the temple can’t do that. But when God sends forth his son, now that can push back darkness and that will light up even the farthest corners of the earth.

 

What Jesus is saying is, “Hey, anybody who comes to me doesn’t have to walk in darkness anymore”

 

And I hope you would just be honest with the Bible. It’s okay to say, “wait a minute God know what the Bible is saying here. But I’m also telling you, I’m struggling right now. The whole reason we’re actually studying through the Book of John is so that you could just see how Jesus makes a difference. In real life. How does this impact the way that you live tomorrow? The truth is, we live in this in between period.

 

We just sang a song about this. We live in this period between the birth of Jesus, when he came in a manger to rescue men and women at the soul level and to change what happens inside of you. That’s the first time Jesus came to Earth.

 

The second time that Jesus comes to Earth, he’s going to return as the conquering king that will liberate all people that will do away with all sickness and all suffering and all disease and all death. It ends forever when he comes back the second time. And you and I live in this in between period, which means he comes to give you the kind of light that pushes back darkness on the inside. It makes life better inside you today, but it may not make the circumstances around you better. And if you’re saying I want my circumstances to be better, I don’t want it to just be better inside of me. I want it to be better around me. Well, that day is coming.     

 

It is a promise that you can take to the bank. We live in this in between period where Jesus comes to bring light to men and women whose souls are dark. But one day he will become literally the light that all mankind will see from the Bible. Tells us at the end of the Book of Revelation that you don’t need a son anymore. You don’t need a big ball of gas in the sky because God himself will light up the world and there’ll be no more sickness, no more suffering, no more death. He is not talking about this kind of life.

 

He’s talking about the kind of light that changes stuff deep down inside that lights up the darkest recesses of your soul. And it starts there, and it spreads out. You guys want to hear something awesome? The words that Jesus uses here in John Chapter eight, the exact same word show up in the book of Matthew.

 

Did you know that Matthew chapter five, verse 1. In John, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Anyone walking in darkness can now be walking in light.” John chapter five verse 4. Listen to what he says. Exact quote, “You Christian, part of the light of the world. You see, I’m going to leave and I’m going to leave you here in the in between period between the time that I came, the first and the time that I came in the second, the second time that I come and in the in between period, I don’t leave everybody alone and to figure it out on their own. No, I leave you as the light of the world.

 

Check this out to light up your dark neighbors. Like who? May not look like you. Doesn’t act like you don’t even like that guy. But I do know this Jesus came to Earth for my neighbor. Just like he came to earth for me. And he wants me continue to do what he was doing while he was on earth until he comes back the second time. And there’s no one else that needs to hear about Jesus because they can see him with their own eyes.

 

Hey, Church, please do this for you. Not for me. Would you go on one of our social media channels today, when this service ends, and will you check out a video that I just dropped yesterday, this second greatest commandment video, it will blow your mind how much Two cities church is pushing back dark and making our neighbors lives better. It’ll take you about a minute and 45 seconds to watch this video, and by the time you get done with this video, you will be amazed like I am at all that our church is doing in our neighborhood, in our country and around the world. Just in the month of December alone, to push back darkness and to be the light of the world like Jesus calls us to.

 

2. Joy helps you see clearly

The conversation takes the turn. Now in John, chapter eight in verse 13 and following, he starts to tell you how not only does joy push back the darkness, but joy starts to make your circumstances come into focus, meaning joy starts to help you see what’s happening around you a little bit more clearly.

 

When Jesus stands up and he shouts to the crowd, “Hey, I am the light of the world!”  At the same time that the religious leaders are lighting this golden candlestick. They get offended by what they’re hearing, and now they’re angry and they want to ask Jesus. Where do you get off making these kind of statements? And so now they kind of put him on trial.

John 8: 13-18 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying about yourself. Your testimony is not valid.” “Even if I testify about myself,” Jesus replied, “My testimony is true, because I know where I came from and where I’m going. But you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. You judge by human standards. I judge no one. And if I do judge, my judgment is true, because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am the one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me.”

 

As I was reading this passage and preparing this week. It felt to me like, wait a second, just in verse 12, we were talking about the light of the world. And now we’re talking about testimony. Did we just take a left turn at Albuquerque? Because I don’t understand why the language just changed so rapidly here and in Jerusalem.

 

 In Jesus’ culture, if you taught some false teachings, especially if you taught anything false about God, listen to this. It is a capital offense punishable by death immediately. So Jesus stands up and he quotes Isaiah chapter nine and they didn’t miss. And they’re like, wait a second. That verse that you just quoted is a verse about God. Are you claiming to be the one that God sent? And now we’ve got a trial that’s basically going on right there on the spot right there in Jerusalem.

 

And they’re asking him, where do you get off making these kind of statement? Jesus, you’re just a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. In the court of law. In Jesus’ day, you couldn’t stand up and testify on your own. There had to be a second witness. There had to be a second witness to validate what you’re saying. There had to be a second witness to condemn you. This is a very serious moment because if they determine that Jesus is speaking lies and blasphemy against God, they will pick up stones at that moment and seize him and kill him.

 

So Jesus now has to start to defend the statement that he made. And his argument is Listen, already told you guys this obviously you weren’t listening when I told you this the first time. I don’t just speak on my behalf. You’ll remember a few months ago when I showed you Jesus stands up and testifies, and not just about himself, but God the father, the Holy Spirit and Moses the Lawgiver all testified that what Jesus is saying is true, but apparently they missed it.

 

So now he’s going to do this with him again. I don’t just speak on my own behalf, but my father also speaks on my behalf. So now we do have two witnesses, and now you have to decide whether or not what I’m saying is true.

 

The word “true” that you hear in the Bible is not accurate. That’s not what the Bible is saying. The Bible is saying, it’s been verified. It’s when you see some junk on the Internet and you’re like, wait a second, that can’t be right. Is this a bunch of malarkey, or did this really happen?

 

And now you have to go investigate whether or not, that’s baloney. Or did that really happen? Because it doesn’t seem like that would be true. That’s the exact wording that Jesus is using here.

 

I just said something, and I blew some of your religious leaders’ mind. But I just need you to know what I just said is not only accurate, it has been validated by a judge not a judge.

It’s been validated by the judge, the judge of all of humanity. And by the way, when you guys judge your humans, so your judgment is mistaken, it’s imperfect. When my father judges, it’s always perfect. He never makes a mistake. And I’m not just speaking on my own behalf. My father is speaking on my behalf as well.

 

Would you pray for a guy that I was speaking to this week? His name is Gil and Gil is 93 years old. Gil is a retired U. S Army officer who spent plenty of time in combat, and Gil is failing in his health. And I’ve spent months praying for him. This week I had the privilege of going to his house, sitting in his living room and talking to him about Jesus and asking Gil if he’s ready for eternity. And when I talked to him, Gil made it very clear to me that he’s not. That he feels like he’s a pretty good person and that he believes that he’s on his way to heaven because he has been more good than bad. And hopefully, the good deeds outweigh the bad deed.

 

As clearly as I knew how, I explained to Gil about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, about his blood, about what it did to pay for sins and I tried to explain to him, Gil, if what you’re saying is true and I really wish it was. But if what you’re saying is true, why on earth would Jesus leave heaven and come to earth and die? If it is possible to be good enough to earn your way into heaven.

 

You see, it became clear to me that Gil just needs the holy spirit of the living God to shine into his soul and to show him no human being hope couldn’t do this. Mother Teresa couldn’t pull this off. Billy Graham can’t pull this off, which means you can’t and I can’t. You can’t be good enough to earn your way into heaven if that were possible. Jesus’s death is unnecessary.

 

What I want you to hear is when life starts to get hard and let’s just be honest, it may be hard for you right now. There may be some hard stuff waiting around the corner for you that you and I don’t even know about, but it’s coming when it starts to get hard. You haven’t seen the full circumstance until you’ve seen God the father working in your life through his powerful son, Jesus Christ.

 

And when the sun shines down on your circumstances, when the sun shows you his will and his power in your life now you’ve seen the whole picture. Now you’ve seen clearly. That’s why joy helps us to see what our circumstances see more than just the circumstances that are right in front of our face.

Joy helps us to see much bigger and much more profound than just the circumstances of life.

 

Do you see now how joy is definitely more than just happy feelings inside your stomach? It’s bigger and deeper and last much longer than that.

 

3. Joy warms your heart.

 

Third, and finally, what joy does, even in the coldest days and the darkest of circumstance, it can warm your heart. Joy can help you hang on when you really, really want to give up when you really want to throw the towel in.

 

Here’s how the Bible describes this next, and basically what the Bible is saying for us is that joy is a choice that you make, choice to get up and to trust Jesus even when your circumstances look difficult.

 

Joy is a choice I make. It’s like when you get up tomorrow morning and you look in your closet and you decide what clothes that you’re going to put on. While joy is deciding to clothe yourself with God’s power and trusting God in spite of difficult circumstances, joy is a choice that you make. And it’s bigger than just happy feeling. And it will warm your heart even in the darkest and the most difficult circumstances.

 

Here’s how this exchange between Jesus and these religious leaders ends today. They asked him, Oh, you want to bring your father into the discussion? Where is your father? They’re talking location right now.

 

John 8: 19-20 Then they asked him, “Where is your Father?” “You know neither me nor my Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” He spoke these words by the treasury, while teaching in the temple. But no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.

 

 

Where is your father? You know, neither me or nor my father. Jesus answered. If you knew me, you would also know my father. He spoke these words by the Treasury.

 

Fascinating to me that John would decide to include this statement in this whole passage. John, why do you think it’s important for us to know that this whole conversation happened by the Treasury while Jesus was teaching in the temple, but no one ceased him, John wants you to know the reason why he’s speaking these words and they don’t seize him and stone him because of blasphemy is because his hour had not yet come.

 

That’s why he can walk away without a scratch on him while he talks language that is offensive to the religious leaders because he’s telling them you don’t know my father and because you don’t know me. You don’t know my father. You claim to be really smart religious leaders, but you’re actually not. And the uneducated people in your midst who know me, they actually know my father.

 

They’re asking the wrong question of Jesus today. They’re asking a question about location when really what they should be at is about relation instead of location.

 

Jesus, show us where on earth your father is. The reason why I’m pointing this out. I got a little picture on the screen. This is what the temple looked like in Jesus’s Day. Get this. This little part right here in the middle was considered the most holy place on Earth. And from that little part in the center, people were able to get close to that spot based on who they were and their relationship with God. So only the high priest could go into the inner, most sacred place on Earth.

 

He could only go there one day a year, only one man, one day a year and everybody tied a rope to his foot in case he dropped over dead while he was in there. We could pull them out because we can’t go in there and get him.

 

The men of Jerusalem, the faithful men of Israel could go inside this building, but not the women. Women had to hang out here outside the building in what’s called the courtyard of women. The faithful women of Israel could get close, but they couldn’t get as close as the men of Israel could get. And the men of Israel couldn’t get as close as the priests could get. And then all of the rest of you pagans this is there a way I didn’t come up with this. They did. I didn’t make these rules, but all of the rest of you pagans you could hang out way outside. But that’s as far as you can go.

Do you know where this conversation is happening? Right. Treasury, The Temple treasury. The priests want to make it easy for everybody to give money. So they put the box where all of the gentiles and the women could give as well as the men. That way we could get a lot more money.

 

There’s a conversation that’s happening between Jesus and these religious leaders. Right here. Were the women right? With the gentiles where all the men can walk? And here’s what they’re asking. Jesus, you’re claiming your father is not just a judge, but the judge. You show us where On Earth Location question where on earth is your father and Jesus is obviously a much better.

 

Do deny it because I would have just said, Well, I’ll show you exactly where he’s at. He’s right there. If you want to go see him, he’s right inside there where you guys believe God’s presence dwells physically on planet Earth. But Jesus doesn’t answer location. He answers relations. My father is in heaven. And the one who came from heaven knows the father and anyone who knows me knows the one who came from heaven, which means knows my father in heaven.

 

But you guys, he’s saying this right to their faith. You don’t know my father. The reason you don’t know him is because you don’t know me. You’re stuck on location when you should be asking a question about relationship. What you should be asking is this the kid that Isaiah Chapter nine promise would bring joy to the world and that all of the nation’s first one, even the Gentiles would be blessed because of this baby.

 

Jesus is declaring I am the one who came from heaven. And my father is the father in heaven. And if you know me, you know my father. If you don’t know me, I don’t care how many books you’ve rea