NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passage: John 16:16-24
Discussion Questions: What is real joy? Is Jesus your source of joy? When have you looked elsewhere? What were the results?
Food for Thought:
In her song “This Joy,” award-winning gospel artist Shirley Caesar reminds us that thieves snatch purses, banks repossess cars, and burglars rob homes. Yet no one can steal her joy because it doesn’t come from the world. Caesar’s joy is rooted in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and in the Holy Spirit He sent.
When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17), He made a way for believers to experience spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), nine attributes that characterize the abiding presence of God in believers’ lives. Joy is one of those attributes. Evidence of that joy is demonstrated in how a Christian responds to trials. Real joy is a quality of the fruit of the Spirit that, unlike happiness, isn’t fazed by our circumstances and sorrows. The world doesn’t get it, sorrow doesn’t conquer it and only Jesus can give it. So burglars and thieves beware; this joy you can’t have.
We may not want to admit it, but many of us have heard a sermon or read Scriptures we didn’t fully understand. Instead of asking God for revelation, though, we might have voiced our concern to others –– only to find that they were puzzled too. In John 16:16-24, the disciples experienced a similar quandary in the upper room as Jesus prepared them for His absence (death and resurrection) that would occur shortly (vv. 16-19). Much of His message revealed the world’s hatred of and ill treatment toward Him. Jesus let the disciples know that this was something they could expect, too. Sorrow, fear and confusion gripped the disciples. They realized that if Jesus weren’t present, their joy would not be either.
Jesus validated the men’s sorrow and assured them that real joy could come from what was about to occur (v. 20). He didn’t imply that their sorrow would be merely substituted with joy; He was telling them their sorrow would be transformed into joy. The cross would not only be their reason for grief, but eventually they’d see it as the source of their joy. However, the world didn’t share the same sentiment.
In essence, at the cross the world would feel triumph, relief and a sense of accomplishment, with Jesus no longer stirring up the people with His teachings about eternal matters. Today the world continues to rejoice in the wrong things by celebrating evil and looking for joy in all the wrong places. Many people attempt to find happiness in their successes, connection to popular people, or accumulation of material things like high-paying careers, big homes, or a spouse. But happiness is always short-lived because it’s based on ever-changing outward circumstances. Real joy is not dependent on circumstances; it holds firm despite them.
Come what may, the joy the Holy Spirit produces in believers lets us know with certainty that God’s grace secures us. When we focus on God’s Word, our faith is strengthened. We’re able to look beyond our situation or circumstance with confident assurance. That’s real joy, and only Jesus gives it.
In a shifting cultural context, it’s more important than ever before that people connect, grow, serve, and go in their Christian life. YOU is committed to doing just that by providing a complete Bible study experience for small groups and classes. Every session is written through an urban and multiethnic lens that provides relevant, engaging, and applicable studies that not only encourage and equip people, but also motivate them to mission. This flexible, non-dated all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals, and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.