“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right Hand of the Throne of God.”
Its source is God’s own heart and its strength is doing His Will.
Unlike happiness, true Joy is eternal and enduring. It’s not dependent upon circumstances, others’ approval, power, prestige, possessions, etc. Instead, it wells up within the soul in response to God’s Faithfulness and our knowing He’s using us to accomplish His Kingdom work on this earth.
There’s no doubt Jesus knew for what purpose He’d come into this world (Jn. 12:27; 18:37). And, for Him there was no shrinking back; instead, He “steadfastly set His Face toward Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51), knowing what awaited Him there.
He knew the stigma, the shame and the excruciating suffering that came with crucifixion. As a small boy he’d witnessed the Romans’ crucifixion of hundreds of men and their lining the crosses and condemned along a well-traveled thoroughfare. He knew their gasping for air as the pull of gravity placed great stress on their heart and lungs. He knew their great blood loss. . . their exposure to the tremendous heat and frigid temperatures. . .the birds sitting on some of their shoulders and plucking out their eyes while they were still alive.
Yes, He knew what awaited Him.
But, “for the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross and despised the shame.” He’d not be deterred by the mockers who’d pass beneath Him, crying “He saved others, but Himself He cannot save” (Mk. 15:31). He also knew the common belief that anyone who was crucified was “under the curse of the Law, which made it impossible to go to Heaven” (Gal. 3:10, 13a).
Yet, He still endured—all “for the Joy that was set before Him.”
And, what was that Joy?
Quite simply, the Joy of knowing His Death would fulfill the Law’s demands and by His Blood we’d be “saved from God’s wrath” (Rom. 5:9). Hallelujah!!
Yes, dear Pilgrim, as Jesus hanged on the Cross. . .enduring more anguish of mind and agony of body than we’ll ever know. . .He knew three days’ later He’d be raised from the dead (Jn 2:19). And, He knew that some 2,000 years later there’d be almost seven billion people on this earth—the majority of whom still need Him as Savior and Lord.
That’s why He gave the Great Co-Mission (Mt. 28:18-20). He knew the Joy that’d come to someone who’s delivered from darkness into light, death into life and hell into Heaven. He also knew the Joy the witness would have in “laboring together with Him” (I Cor. 3:9). No wonder “the angels of God rejoice over one sinner that repents” (Lk. 15:10); they’re simply following the lead of their Master, even as we should be.