“Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…” – I Peter 1:8
The more I think about this verse, the more I love it. First, Peter says that our trust in Jesus causes us to “rejoice with joy.” I love that he uses two different words that are very close in meaning, “rejoice” (the expression of joyousness) and “joy” (the content of that expression), in order to double down on the emphasis that Jesus produces a lot of joy! Then, to make that point abundantly clear, Peter uses a wonderful word that is translated here as “inexpressible.” Literally, this word means “not able to speak,” or “what cannot be expressed in words.” This is the same word group that Paul uses in Romans 8:26 when he says that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” This is a deep and abiding joy that can only be described as transcending human understanding. There are quite simply no words that can adequately explain this joy.
Have you ever experienced a joy that you just can’t explain? Have you ever experienced something so powerfully filled with joy that you just have a hard time letting other people know about it. For me, I think of days like my wedding day, or the birth of my children. Those days produce in my memories of joy that I just can’t really put into words. This is the kind of joy that Peter is encouraging the persecuted church with. He is reminding them that no matter what evil the world throws at them, Christians have a deeper joy that can get them through it.
This is super helpful for any of us going through hard times, but the next part of this may be even more powerful. Peter says that this kind of joy is filled with glory. Glory! When you and I experience this kind of joy that is brought about by our faith in Jesus, we display the glory of God to the world! Wow! Biblical “glory” is God’s invisible (and inexpressible) attributes put on display for the world. God’s glory is only fully seen in Jesus, but it was partially seen in the Hebrew Scriptures (remember Moses seeing God’s back as God passed by). Now, without the physical presence of Jesus in the world, the best way we can “see” God is by seeing his glory on display. Now Peter is telling us that our joy in the midst of trials is a joy in which we can actually manifest God’s glory for the sake of others. This is huge!
So, today, let’s go and become people who show God’s glory to the world by living out the joy that springs from the hope we have in Jesus!
Pastor Josh Rose