The day we stand before our God, and see Jesus face to face, will be no ordinary day. This will be no ordinary joy. This will be a day of great joy that will usher in an eternity of great and ever increasing joy.
God has designed, for now, that our joy not always be great.
The word joy appears more than 200 times in the English Bible, and more than sixty in the New Testament. Joy is not a peripheral note in God’s word, but a massive, unavoidable theme. Of the sixty mentions in the New Testament, however, only four times do we hear of “great joy.” Careful attention to the word great can help clear up confusion for some and relieve unnecessary guilt for others.
Some of us are prone to mistake the everyday joy of the Christian life in this age — in all its depth and power and sweetness — for the “great joy” that is occasional for now and coming in future fullness. And others overlook the preciousness of the joy God gives us in this age because it’s not yet the great joy that is coming.
Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10), but we do not have it all right now. He came that we might have joy, real joy, wonderful joy, “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8), and yet a “great joy” remains that we sample for now and will experience without interruption in the age to come.
Four Glimpses of Great Joy
The Messiah is Born
Both Matthew and Luke tell of “great joy” at Jesus’s first coming. First the magi: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Then, as herald angels announced to certain shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
Read more of this article on the Desiring God website.