What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
Month 2: His Joy
“Be of good cheer”
WEEK 5: VALLEYS AND PEAKS
A depiction of Christ as a man without joy is as wrong and unreal as a depiction of him without sorrow. He did, in fact, experience the deepest sorrow and pain and grief that any being on this earth has experienced or will ever experience, for he descended below them all (D&C 122:8). But with Christ, as with most of us, the depth of the valleys corresponded to the height of the peaks. There was no conflict between the Lord’s happiness and his sorrow. Both came from the same great capacity to feel, and the same breath of sensitivity. (The ocean, with enough sweep and depth for great tempests, also has room for sunny calms, with a range and horizon that no small pool can know.) The Lord experienced the height of the Transfiguration and the depth of Gethsemane.
Indeed, it is the clouds that cause the rainbow. And Christ did, in very real fact, experience the greatest joy ever known to a being on this earth. Those who view Christ as consistently sad and somber must find difficulty imagining the Lord voicing his most common greetings: “Be of good cheer” (Acts 23:11, 27:22, 25), and “Be not…of a sad countenance” (Matthew 6:16).
It has been said that joy is composed of three key ingredients:
- Close relationships with God and man, and service to both
- A worthy, deeply felt mission or cause in life.
- Personal health and self-discipline.
If these are true measurements, Christ quickly qualifies as the greatest example of joy.
One has only to read his words to feel his joy. Indeed, his message bears the title of gospel or “good news,” and from the angel’s first announcement, his life was “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). That gospel and that life were of such paramount importance that John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44).
Rarely did Christ take the time to defend his actions to the Pharisees, and two of those times Christ’s defense was in response to their criticism regarding the scope of his relationships with other (Mark 2:18-19, Matthew 9:10-15). He compared himself to the bridegroom and he encouraged the joy of others in his presence. His mode of teaching was positive and joyous.
The Lord lived a perfect life. The perfect life, by definition, but also be the joyous life.
Jesus’ love for children, his feelings for the sea and wind, his constantly helpful and positive way, his singleness of purpose—all describe a being of great joy. And well they should, for here was one partaking of and exemplifying the joy which he had made available for man and which he had created man to receive.