19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord (John 20:19–20, NKJV).
The “same day” He was resurrected, Jesus appeared to His apostles and assured them He had overcome sin and death. Their fear of the Jews put them behind closed doors. But Jesus had not given up on them. Soon, Jesus would send them into the world to preach the good news of His death, resurrection, and our salvation from sins (John 20:21; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:1-11). Jesus did two things that evening that assures us God has not given up on us, either. (1) Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” Fear is replaced with the gladness of faith when we believe Jesus is alive (John 16:22). Do not live your life in fear, fellow Christian. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). (2) Jesus showed them His wounds. It was really Jesus. He died for the whole world (Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2). He bore our sins in His body on the tree as a sacrifice for sins (1 Pet. 2:24; Heb. 10:10; Isa. 53:4-6). His resurrection assures us of God’s amazing grace and love (Rom. 5:8). Man’s sinful hatred killed the Son of God. But Jesus arose with forgiving love for all who will believe in His name (John 1:11-13; 3:16). We are saved because Jesus lives (Rom. 5:10).
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9–11, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit includes joy (Galatians 5:22). Joy is the gladness and calm delight that results from being in harmony with God and His will. Full joy springs from keeping the commandments of Jesus, for by doing so, we abide in the love of God. Obeying Christ is living by the Spirit, which produces and sustains our joy. Combined with love, joy strengthens and secures our faith. Joy enables our long suffering (Colossians 1:11). Consider Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in which joy in Christ is thematic. Joy in Christ is exhibited in our prayers (1:4), in the progress of our faith (1:25), by our unity in Christ (2:2), by the sacrifice and service of our faith (2:17-18), in our fellowship with faithful workers for Christ (2:29-30), and in our brotherly affection (4:1). Christian friend, live a praise-filled life of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (Proverbs 12:25, ESV)
Anxiety is an anchor that strangles the soul, depriving the heart of joy and gladness. Worrying and fretting over things one cannot change diverts attention away from those things that truly matter. Jesus said that anxiety robs the heart of trust in and dependency upon God (Matt. 6:25-34). To guard against this enemy of joy, Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:25-34). Our proverb says the heart burdened with worrisome doubt can be lifted up by well-chosen words of comfort and encouragement. If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, offer them a kind and pleasant word that reassures them of God’s ever-present love and care. Help lift the anchor that is dragging them down to despair.