Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
John 15:8-12 (NIV)
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Try to picture Jesus in whatever way you are familiar with. Now picture a big, beautiful family dinner at Easter or Thanksgiving where everyone is happy and filled with joy. Think of Jesus there joining in the conversation, the laughter, and the joy. We focus, rightly, on the cross because of how desperate our need is for forgiveness. But the purpose of the cross is to restore joy, love, peace, and fellowship with God and with one another! God is filled with joy when we love! And we love when we remain in the joy-filled love of God. That is God’s desire for our lives and though sometimes we cannot see it or feel it, when we let God love us and when we love, God is smiling with joy.