“that they may have My joy fulfilled in them.” John 17:13
Fulfilled – Jesus does not plan a “cheerless barren existence” for His followers. He anticipates and provides for a life of joy! I wonder if we truly believe that – and if we are experiencing this “full of grace and beauty” living. I suspect that most of the time we allow the cares of this world, the deceit of economic gain and the confusion about law and grace to keep us in chronic spiritual dyspepsia. We don’t think of Jesus as joyful. We think of Him as obedient, suffering and detached. Since we don’t have His perspective clearly in focus, we don’t really know what He is talking about. We just take two aspirin and hope things will be better in the morning.
The Greek verb, pleroo, literally means “to fill a container to the brim.” Figuratively, it implies abundant supply. You can find it in phrases like “richly impart,” “abundant living,” and “the fullness of God.” The key is that this verb is a passive perfect tense participle. That won’t mean much to you until you know the meanings of the terms. Passive means that you and I are the recipients of the action, not the performers of the action. The perfect tense means that this is an action that was completed in the past but has continuing effects in the present. Finally, this verb is a participle, a verb that acts like a noun. What Jesus is saying is that the joy He wants us to have is given, not earned, has always been an essential element of the universe, is guaranteed to followers, is more than adequate for life, overflows from its past foundation into the present and is available to everyone who lives obediently under God. (Better read that again.)
When did God establish this program of joyful existence? From the very beginning. You will find this Greek verb in Genesis 1:22 as a translation of the Hebrew verb male (two syllables) meaning “fill, complete, finish or satisfy.” In other words, it has always been God’s intention for us to experience this joy. That was the purpose behind the original command! God wants you to be absolutely passionate about living. He wants you to experience amazing satisfaction in what you do. He wants you to know His purpose, complete it and discover wholeness in the process. Jesus prays that the original plan will be restored.
Everything important in the Bible happens in the first three chapters of Genesis. All the rest is amplification and clarification. If we just understood those first three chapters in their depth and scope, life would be very different. Jesus came to restore us to the original design, not to usher in some new program. When He prays for our joy, He knows exactly what that requires. It requires a return to the only authorized plan that ever existed.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang about our collective waywardness when they used the lyrics, “got to get back to the Garden.” That’s where we belong. We have been outsiders for a very long time. Jesus comes to return us to a place where we can walk in the cool of the evening with God. If you want the good life, you’ll have to follow His directions. He’s the only one who knows how to get there. What a joy it will be when you arrive.
Topical Index: Plan