If someone were to ask you what the shortest verse in the Bible is, most people pointed to the poignant phrase, ‘Jesus wept.’ That actually requires three words in Greek, however. The shortest verse is actually to be found in the book of Thessalonians, when Paul issues the incredibly powerful – and, for most of us, extremely challenging command to, ‘Rejoice always! (1 Thess. 5:16)
The context is important here. He follows it up by a call to pray without ceasing, and then a reminder again to give thanks in all circumstances. These commands may be familiar, but the reason he gives for them is often overlooked: ‘for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ We may feel as though we are uncertain about God’s will concerning some particular issue or decision we must take, but this we do know: that it is His will for those us to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Praise God for people like Merlin Carothers who stir us up to do just that. And given that the Greek words are Pantete Chairete, that is one form of PC we can all espouse with the greatest confidence!
I am reminded of Paul and Silas, shackled and in prison after being severely flogged. (Acts 16:22ff) How dark that prison must have been, and how hungry they must have been – to say nothing of the great physical pain they were in. It is hard to think of any circumstances less conducive to singing praise than that dark place. Yet what an impact their worship made first in Heaven and then amongst those who heard them!
There are many, many times when rejoicing is far more a matter of the will than of overflowing emotion. But oh, how lovely if, when we meet with fellow believers, we greet them with a vigorous and cheerful Pantete chairete! instead of a run-of-the-mill ‘hello!’ When Jesus first showed Himself alive from the dead to His disciples in Matthew 28:9, He used the word chairete ‘rejoice’ as His greeting to them. Paul likewise closed his second letter to the Corinthians by urging them to rejoice. (2 Cor. 13:11) It is a phrase that became a watchword for the Early Church – and it is one we do well to take deeply to heart and make our own refrain, whatever we may be going through.
Jesus made it quite clear that that we would face trials and tribulations in this world, and we are sure to face many challenges as well as blessings in the coming year. But Jesus really has overcome the world, and we have so much to be grateful for. (John 16#:33, cf 1v John 4:4, 5:4-5) Christ is born, and Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia
I had long wanted to record this gloriously dynamic movement from Bach’s magnificent fourth Brandenburg Concerto, and was so grateful when the chance came along to do so. Massive thanks to the heroic musicians who played this challenging piece so beautifully for us.
Thomas and Julia Herzog, (recorders), Susanne Herzog, Shirley Richards and Helen Rees (violins), Julian Chan (viola), Jo Garcia (cello) and Christiane von Albrecht (continuo). We very much hope it will inspire and stir us all to rejoice afresh in the God who loves us so much.
Christ is risen
During the days of the Soviet repression indoctrination, a professor was delivering a lecture on atheism in the University when a student asked permission for the right to reply. The professor grudgingly agreed to give him just two minutes in which to do so. “Oh, I won’t need anything like as much as that,” the student replied. Rising to his feet he declared, “Christ is risen!” to which many in the class roared back ‘He is risen indeed!’
May the Lord help us to rejoice always and be glad – at all times and every when . . . !
By the way, concerning the composer . . . I think many of you would find this insightful article extremely interesting in Christianity Today about the musical genius that Bach was. He had a great heart for God’s word too.
or listen here directly
If we wanted a quick reminder of all we have to rejoice in, Ron Jacobs has tracked down numerous reasons to rejoice, looking at the occasions when the Greek word chairo is used in the New Testament.
e.g. Rejoicing in the Lord, Phil 3:1; Phil 4:4;
His incarnation, Luke 1:14;
His power, Luke 13:17;
His presence with the Father, John 14:28;
His presence with them, John 16:22; John 20:20;
His ultimate triumph, John 8:56;
hearing the gospel, Acts 13:48;
their salvation, Acts 8:39;
receiving the Lord, Luke 19:6;
their enrolment in Heaven, Luke 10:20;
their liberty in Christ, Acts 15:31;
their hope, Rom 12:12 (cf. Rom 5:2; Rev 19:7);
their prospect of reward, Matt 5:12;
the obedience and godly conduct of fellow believers, Rom 16:19, RV, “I rejoice” (KJV, “I am glad”); 2Cor 7:7, 2Cor 7:9; 2Cor 13:9; Col 2:5; 1Th 3:9; 2John 1:4; 3John 1:3;
the proclamation of Christ, Phil 1:18;
the gospel harvest, John 4:36;
suffering with Christ, Acts 5:41; 1Pet 4:13;
suffering in the cause of the gospel, 2Cor 13:9 (1st part); Phil 2:17 (1st part); Col 1:24;
in persecutions, trials and afflictions, Matt 5:12; Luke 6:23; 2Cor 6:10;
the manifestation of grace, Acts 11:23;
meeting with fellow believers, 1Cor 16:17, RV, “I rejoice”; Phil 2:28;
receiving tokens of love and fellowship, Phil 4:10;
the “rejoicing” of others, Rom 12:15; 2Cor 7:13;
learning of the well-being of others, 2Cor 7:16.