Introduction

Recently I started to reengage with my book entitled “Enjoying More Happiness.”   As the writing journey has unfolded, I found myself faced with an unexpected question:

Could Jesus be the happiest man ever? 

Now most of us immediately when we think of Jesus think of how he was a man of sufferings, drawing upon Isaiah 53. And,  it can even feel heretical to suggest that Jesus was the happiest man ever.  But what happens when we only think of Jesus in relation to suffering, or of his crucifixion, the time of his greatest suffering?

I think at some level many people can resist getting to know him, because they think that the only thing that happens when you connect with Jesus is that you suffer more.  While it is true that getting to know Jesus better and becoming more like him does bring us into more suffering, I think if we can see how happy Jesus was, and the way in which he likely was and is the happiest man ever, all of a sudden suffering begins to be framed in a dramatically different light.

So, in this blog post and in some subsequent blog posts, I hope to help us reconsider what it was like to be Jesus…in relation to something we all want more of…happiness.  Read on if you’re curious!

What is Jesus Like?

Candidly, one of the hardest things, when it comes to knowing Jesus better, is that can we already think we know him well enough. Some believers can think: He came and died for us, to forgive our sins. That is awesome. Now we can go to heaven. I can check that off my list. Now I can move on with the rest of my life, doing what I think will make me happiest.

Sadly, for many believers, Jesus honestly doesn’t seem really relevant to them enjoying their greatest happiness, and so they don’t passionately pursue getting to know him better, or actively work to become like him.

Others can think, well, if I’ve read the Gospels once, I’m good. Or, if I’ve read the entire Bible all the way through, that is probably way more than most believers, which is likely true.

For many of us, I’m sure the demands and temptations in life obscure our spiritual vision, like Jesus said,[1] and Jesus remains a much more distant figure. And because he remains more distant, we don’t really see him clearly, leaving us the ones who are missing out.

But, what if there is more?

What if Jesus is actually the happiest man ever?

And, what if you enjoying more happiness, the kind of happiness that just gets deeper and richer, that doesn’t spoil or fade or end when you die,[2] is intimately and inextricably linked with you getting to know Jesus better, and becoming more like him? Like way better? Like better to the point where people actually can’t help but wonder when they meet you: “What is different about that man? What’s different about that woman? There is a life in them, a joy, a happiness, that I just can’t quite understand, but is undeniably compelling?” What if more and more people found themselves saying that about you?

First off, there must be something truly exceptional about Jesus, because, according to Philip Yancey, every year over 1,500 books are written about him.[3] That is stunning.

There must be something really remarkable about this one man named Jesus, if sprinkled across Europe, are these awe-inspiring, glorious cathedrals, all built in honor of Jesus, and specifically designed for us to worship him and get to know him better.

And, there must be something really unique about Jesus if, in R-rated movies during the most frightening, terrifying moments, the characters, who apparently do not know Jesus very well, cannot help but yell his name! (I mean they never seem to say “Buddha!” or “Krishna!” Why is that?)

Maybe there really is something about Jesus that beckons us, invites us, pleads with us, to truly make him the most important person in our lives.

So what is he like? In some ways it’s undeniably difficult to know exactly what he was like, because he did live around 2000 years ago. The Bible it turns out is a remarkable resource for getting to know Jesus better. Josh McDowell[4] and others have done incredible work in the field of Christian apologetics to help validate the incredible legitimacy of the Bible as an remarkably accurate, reliable, and historical text. The more time I spend getting to know Jesus, the more I see that he is The Master when it comes to embodying the perspectives and skills that lead to the richest happiness. Bar none.

Jesus and His Absolutely Unique DNA 

Now, some of what I’ll share undeniably takes us into speculation. I encourage you to set aside skepticism and mistrust, (while maintaining your reason!) and let your mind and heart be open to the possibilities here.

When it comes to enjoying happiness, first off, imagine if, somehow, you were like God, in your very DNA. Imagine if instead of being born with sin, guilt and shame somehow coursing through your blood, for you, absolute purity and a complete ease of connection with God was somehow freely coursing through your veins. Jesus, according to the Bible, was miraculously born of God in the virgin birth[5], where the complete purity found in God completely replaced the sin, guilt and shame we all know too well in our souls. That distinction right there I believe gives Jesus an incredible head start in receiving the designation, happiest man ever.

Then, imagine, growing up with a good mom and dad. Your mom and dad sit you down at about age 7, and they tell you that there is something incredibly unique about you. And, as difficult as this may be to believe, they say, that while your mom is your biological mom, your biological dad is not your physical father, but somehow the God of the Universe. What if you heard that? Well, in contemporary language, I would say your mind is blown. How can this be? Well, you think…maybe that does make sense. Maybe that explains why obedience appears to be way easier for me than for my friends. Maybe that explains why I am so undeniably curious about getting to know God better. Maybe that helps explain ways that I am so undeniably gifted (Maybe think a bit like the kids Dash and Violet from “The Incredible’s” the Pixar film?). As you gradually begin to take it in, it starts to ring true more and more, that your true Father, is actually Yahweh, the Creator of the Universe; that  God, the ultimate and infinite source of all goodness, love, power, and happiness, was your dad. Your Dad. And you find out you are His Son.

That is the identity of identities!

Wouldn’t that be amazing! The ways your chest and mind would fill up with awe, excitement, gratitude and happiness would simply be stunning.

Now we don’t know when or how that reality really dawned on Jesus. The conversation with Jesus’s mom and dad, (Mary and Joseph), explaining his miraculous birth and absolutely unique DNA, is not recorded There is undeniably mystery here. What we do know for sure, at the very least, is that by the age of 12, when he was entering into the turbulent time of adolescence, that he already was incredibly insightful and wise, and what is even more incredible, is that he knew, when he was at the Temple, that he was in his Father’s house.[6]

I believe, over time, through his teens and twenties, as those incredible truths about his true identity sank deeper and deeper into his heart, mind and soul, it must have only deepened his levels of happiness, and his sense of worth and confidence in his ability to navigate what life was bringing his way.

Of course, his life was not a cake walk. As we’ll explore more later, surely very early in his life, he started to notice the oppression under the Romans, and began to see more clearly how much the Pharisees and Sadducees were distorting his Father’s teaching. That would be really hard.

Growing Deeper in His Identity

Well, finally, at around age 30, things start to get very exciting. In ways we don’t understand, likely led by the Holy Spirit, he finally knew it was time to fully engage. Beautifully, it starts with a baptism, the event that would publicly affirm his core identity in God and how he even identifies with us. When his cousin John the Baptist protests about him baptizing Jesus, (instead of Jesus baptizing him), Jesus pushes back and says we “must do this to fulfill all righteousness.” [7] (Fulfilling all righteousness is his remarkable way of identifying with us in our brokenness, and paving the way for our salvation.)

As he is being baptized, something absolutely stunning happens, that speaks deeply to the vital role of identity in our levels of happiness. As Jesus came up out of the water “heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said ‘This is my Son whom I love with him I am well pleased.’”[8]

Imagine hearing that out loud. Incredible. My Dad, creator of the Universe, just showed up for my baptism. He publicly reaffirmed that I’m His son, told me He loves me, and that He is pleased with me, even before I’ve done anything really substantial with my life. That must have felt so good to hear those beautiful words. While this may seem simplistic, I do believe it must have made Jesus really happy. No one else in the history of the world has ever had the God of the Universe say that to them. (Some of you may be thinking, but it must have been hard for Jesus to only have His Dad’s voice so clearly spoken so rarely. I agree. More on that later.)

Wrapping Up

Well dear reader, I hope these initial ideas are intriguing to you. Please noodle on them as you have time. There is much more to explore when it comes to understanding Jesus as the happiest man ever.  I will be sharing more in the coming weeks about Jesus, happiness and even how he transformed suffering to become the happiest man in the universe.

I’m certainly open to your ideas. Feel free to share your comments and do your best to prove me wrong! 🙂

Here’s to you becoming more like him.

 

[1] Matthew 13:22, NIV, 1984.

[2] Consider Matthew 6:20, I Peter 1:7-9, NIV, 1984

[3] As cited in the preface to “Who Is This Man?” By John Ortberg, Kindle books, 2012.

[4] Consider reading: “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.”

[5] Luke 1:35, NIV, 1984.

[6] Luke 2:40, NIV, 1984.

[7] Matthew 3:15 NIV, 1984

[8] Matt. 3:17, NIV, 1984

[9] Luke 4:1, NIV, 1984

[10] Luke 4:14, NIV, 1984

[11] Galatians 5:22, NIV, 1984.

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