by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17 NASB
You are at a wedding. After the bride and bridegroom are pronounced husband and wife, the groom turns and with a solemn face announces, “Now we all will mourn. Don’t expect any food at the reception, because we will be fasting.”
You look around to see confused and sad looks on the guests’ faces. A dirge fills the church as the bride and groom drag themselves down the aisle. After the dreary reception where there’s no food, dancing, or singing, everyone is given a little baggie of dirt. As the newly married couple leave the reception, everyone throws dirt on them.
No way! And yet the metaphor is a modern explanation for what John the Baptist’s followers want when they arrive at a party Matthew is hosting (Matthew 9:9-17). Jesus, his disciples, and other party guests are feasting and having a great time. Even those terrible “tax collectors and sinners” are joining in—at Jesus’s invitation. Can’t you just envision Jesus having the biggest smile of them all?
But the disciples of John the Baptist aren’t rejoicing. They look over the crowd with a judgmental scowl and demand, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14 NASB). Wow, they are on the prowl to let others know everyone should follow the rules as they do.
We can understand the question considering their teacher is in prison, and they are mourning. They could be thinking everyone should be mourning along with them. They might be thinking Jesus should especially be concerned, because John is his cousin. Plus, John was the one who launched Jesus’s ministry as Messiah with an announcement as he baptized Him. Might they even be thinking Jesus wouldn’t have been successful without John? We don’t know.
Jesus interjects, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (Matthew 9:15 NASB). Jesus reminds them who he is. He tells them that while He is with them, everyone should rejoice. He completely trusts his Father’s plan for his cousin. Plus, Jesus wants to enjoy the party because he is truly joyful in nature.
For many years, starting in childhood, I never pictured Jesus laughing, partying, and having joy. I believed he was a demanding taskmaster who was always on the prowl to squash any fun.
But as I began studying Jesus’s attributes in the Bible, I realized he is joyful. After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 includes joy. It’s impossible for Jesus to not be joyful since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one along with the Father: the same in essence and character. As I realized this, my perspective began to change and I could actually visualize Jesus having a great time—with the biggest grin!
Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature, copyright 2020, Kathy Collard Miller.
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 or Facebook.
Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.
Join the conversation: What other words would you describe for Jesus’s joyful nature and is it easy or hard for you to envision Jesus as joyful?