Jesus was Happy – Are you?

There are a number of places when we read about Jesus’ emotions in the Bible.  Perhaps the most familiar of all passages is in the Gospel of John (11:5) which states: “Jesus wept.”  It is also the shortest verse in the Bible.  Jesus shed’s tears over the death of his friend Lazarus.  Soon after he arrives at the tomb of Lazarus Jesus brings Lazarus back to life.  This is one of the major acts by Jesus which led to his arrest and crucifixion.

When Jesus reaches Jerusalem he again weeps (Luke 19:41).  He does this perhaps he knows of his fate, or because he is sad for the people because they do not know what they are going to do.

Finally on the cross, even though it is not mentioned specifically in the Bible I envision tears in the eyes of Jesus as he calls out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But the question for me is was Jesus ever happy?

There are some passages of scripture where we may think that Jesus was joking or perhaps he had a smerk on his face when he was talking.  But many of Jesus’ emotions were more implied rather than spelled out for us.  That does not mean that Jesus was always serious or sarcastic.

For example, when he speaks of removing a splinter from another’s eye, while a beam protrudes from your own (Matthew 7:4) you have to admit that’s funny!!!  As Jesus was rebuking the pharisees when he says  “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24) that is packed with humor!!

There are times when the Bible says that Jesus rejoiced. In the parable of the lost sheep, when the concerned shepherd found his wayward lamb which had wandered from the flock, he carried it home on his shoulders, rejoicing. He called together his friends and said, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:5-6). When the seventy disciples returned from a preaching mission and reported their success Jesus rejoiced.  Luke says “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth….” (Luke 10:21).

I believe, even though Jesus’ ministry was long, hard and he was constantly being questioned or surrounded by hundreds or thousands of followers (think about the stress)  Jesus chose to be happy.  I believe we can choose to be happy as well.  I believe that happy people are happy because they make up their minds to be.

Let me explain what I mean. I don’t think that anyone can be happy all of the time.  Happy people still experience pain, they see the hurt in the world but they have chosen to be happy — they don’t focus their attention on the hurt and the pain.  They don’t let the injustices of the world control how they feel.  Instead they are happy and they fight for equality in all walks of life.

It’s entirely possible that happy people can see things that others don’t, because their power of paying attention is enormous. Your attention, when you really focus it, is a lot like a searchlight. When you focus on beauty, you’re simply going to see more beauty than other people do.

The same thing happens when you focus on a problem: you see it everywhere!!!  When you look around you start to notice things that relate to your problem and all of a sudden your problem gets bigger and bigger until it is uncontrollable.  The challenge is to take your problem and to choose 15-30 min to focus to find a solution.

Finally, happy people surround themselves with other happy people.  Do the people you surround yourself with appreciate who you are and what you are doing in the world?  Or do they give you nothing but trouble?  I have had many friends in my life who were very negative.  Whenever I would come to them with a problem they would point out all the things that I did wrong.  Or they would be constantly complaining about what someone else was doing to them.

Instead surround yourself with positive people.  Most of the time I am sure that Jesus’ disciple were a positive influence on him and his ministry.  Sure no one is perfect and we all should be allowed to complain every now and again.

But if we want to be happy in our life, we need to try and have a positive outlook, to focus on quick solutions to our problems and to surround ourselves with positive people who will support us on our life journey.

Being Promised

If you have not been following along Greg Walter’s book tour please check out posts by Clint, Geoff, and Steve.  Greg Walter is a professor at St. Olaf College in Minnesota and has written a new book entitled Being Promised: Theology, Gift, and Practice.

I was lucky enough to interview Professor Walter upon the completion of his new book.


1. Existence of a promise:  I have had many conversations with people who question the existence of God. When I have those conversations eventually they lead back to the idea of faith and the assurance that God promises us eternal life and salvation. Is there a way to explain the promises that God gives us in such a way that instills at least some hope and faith?

I think there is a lot to say about the promise creating faith. This means, I think, that God’s promise in the Crucified One invites and opens up an adventure, a risk, which is a willingness to go with it, to see what comes, to welcome whatever shows up on our doorsteps. Because an adventure in a way is not just our going out on a quest of some sort but also is about advent, about that which comes to us, promise can do this, and God’s promise asks for a bizarre and joyous adventure.

The other way to do this is to say that to reflect the God who promises is a lot more interesting than to explore the God who exists. I suppose someone might say that existence is somehow a more basic feature of God to establish before exploring promise, but I don’t know that is so. Because a God who promises is a different sort of God than one who doesn’t risk or wait on faith to be God, as Luther radically puts it.

 2. I have said once or twice in a sermon “God does not break promises” is there an instance from your view point where God has broken a promise? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

In the book I write a bit about the way that God’s promise must be tested. This is a strange way to read Genesis 22:1 — usually we think it is a test of Abraham by God but a promise is always up for grabs, if it is a promise. Many theologians will write things like “God can be trusted because God does not lie” or “God’s promises are true because God’s power knows no bounds.” I think the first is better than the second though it seems that the Binding of Isaac has its fair share of deception on God’s part. Part of God’s history in keeping God’s promise is part of God’s credibility. And God’s promise must be tested because so many tings speak against it. Luther called this the “contradiction of promise” in his late Genesis Lectures.

 3. What is your biggest breakthrough personally by writing this book? What is the one nugget of information and/or inspiration that you would like everyone to take away from reading your book?

I benefited immensely in sorting out promise as gift. Since most human beings implicitly or explicitly understand how gifts work and the dangers and joys of gift-exchange, promise is readily intelligible in those terms. And I think most people seem to get that a promise behaves differently than most acts of giving even if they’re not sure how. In the book I try to show how promise can have an effect on most human practices and ordinary human situations, engendering a kind of impure giving. I don’t think promise can clear up the muck of human life, but I think it provides, in the promise of the Crucified One, a form suitable to that mess.

Don’t forget to check out the posts by  ClintGeoff, and Steve.  If you are interested in the book check it out by clicking the picture below.