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In John 17, the Son talks to the Father about what makes us joyful, could this be the illusive key to happiness?

PS John Hunt, Director


In John 17, the Son talks to the Father about what makes us joyful. I wonder, could this be the elusive key to happiness?

Jesus says in John 17:13 (NIV), “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

Jesus is saying, ‘I am coming to you Father’. Being with the Father will ensure him of his joy. Then Jesus says some words that will ensure us of ours:

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” – John 17:14 (NIV)

Before Jesus gets to his point, he acknowledges the pain of the human experience, the torment of rejection.

We are stuck in a value system that is incompatible to that of a follower of Jesus. This world wants you to be consistently looking to upgrade everything from your wardrobe to your partner. As followers of Christ, we are not focused on upgrades and experiences – which is all this world has to offer.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” – John 17:15-16 (NIV)

Clearly, Jesus’ idea involves risk. He doesn’t pray, ‘God remove their risk’. However, there is an idea that gives rise to a satisfaction and joy so powerful that it surpasses the fear of risk and rejection. 

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” – John 17:17-19 (NIV)

Jesus is saying: ‘As I was sent, I send them.’ Sent means on mission, and someone who is on mission is a missionary.

The result of missions is always joy. All of John 17 is about His mission.

Jesus basically says, ‘I say these things so their joy may be full’.

All the great stories – the fairytales, the books, the movies – are all about world-saving mission. Ask any kid what they want to do when they grow up and they all want to change things for the better. No healthy child wants to live just for themselves. So, the question is – at what point did the focus for life alter from change the world, to get more upgrades and experiences?

Hebrews 12:3 (NIV) says, “For the sake of the joy that was set before him he endures the cross.” There is a joy for Jesus when he was on mission.

Despite the rejection and the risk, we are made for missions; we were built for missions. Without it, we cannot have the fullness of our joy.

At some point, however, many of us have bought into the philosophy that says nothing is more important than our personal happiness. Marriage vows, church membership, any covenants, commitments and causes will be pushed to the roadside if these things get in the way of our relentless pursuit of individual happiness. We start to think, ‘My ultimate value is my happiness. Sure, I want to experience stuff, give stuff a go, but this is nothing more than adding to my bucket list of experiences or upgrades.’

The problem is, when there is no higher cause than my happiness, there’s nothing for me to deny my happiness for. If there is no cause greater than my life, there’s nothing for me to die for. And if that’s true, there’s nothing for me to live for. I’m left with only myself, no mission.

The irony is by exaggerating my significance, I lose it. By raising my needs to the highest level – and making them more important than any other covenant, commitment or cause – I lose. I may have gained independence – maybe – but I will have lost my joy. Because I’ve lost my mission.

As Jesus says in John 12:25 (NIV), “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Jesus sends us so that our joy may be full. So that we don’t get sucked into a system that promises so much but then never delivers.

If you want to make a difference, find your mission. We can help.


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