In 1 Peter 1:8, the apostle wrote about the believing that results in rejoicing that is to characterize those who have come to know Jesus. And I think I know where Peter got this idea.
In Jesus’ exchange with his friends (which included Peter) in the upper room before his betrayal and death, three times he underscored what he wanted them to understand by introducing a remark by saying, “Truly, truly” (or “Amen, Amen;” a Hebraic expression that serves as something of a verbal underscore of what follows). The three times Jesus uses this expression are John 14:12; 16:20 and 16:23.
The second time Jesus uses this introductory phrase, he is talking about his impending death.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned to joy.” (John 16:20)
In anticipating his crucifixion, Jesus makes a few clear assertions:
The world—those who are not part of his fellowship of friends—are going to rejoice over the event.
His followers will weep and lament and grieve—they will taste real sorrow.
His followers will not remain in grief—they will end up with real joy.
One of the fascinating things about what Jesus says here is that the same root word is used to speak of the rejoicing of the world at his death and the joy of the disciples that will be theirs. There will be evident joy, expressed delight—first for the world in Jesus’ death and then, subsequently, for the followers of Jesus.
If you were at the cross, watching as Jesus’ life flowed out in blood, you would have seen. The religious leaders were making light of Jesus’ crucifixion. They jeered him, abused him, were glad that this troublemaker was going to be finally put to rest. The soldiers at the foot of the cross were gambling for the belongings of the condemned. It would have been evident that both Romans and Jews were glad to be rid of Jesus—their joy in seeing him removed from the picture would have been clear.
Yes, the followers of Jesus experienced sorrow and grief at his death. Watching from a distance, their eyes would have been filled with tears and their hearts filled with anguish. But that was not going to last. As certain as was their sorrow, as certain the world’s rejoicing, so certain would be their heart-felt and evident joy. During that same evening, Jesus explained: “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (14:22).
I wonder. Am I living in this “Truly, truly” truth of Jesus? Have I grasped what Peter wrote about—a life filled with rejoicing with joy inexpressible? I wonder. I am genuinely living in the “no one will take your joy away” kind of delight?