40 Days: 13) Suffering Joyfully

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

I’ve always been dumbfounded by this verse.

I get the part about looking to Jesus (some versions say FIXING or FOCUS your eyes upon Jesus) the founder (or AUTHOR) and perfecter (or FINISHER) of our faith. I mean, if he’s the One who started, not only our faith, but the universe, then if offered the opportunity to focus or fixate upon Him for all of life’s meaning, we should seize that opportunity without relent.

It’s the whole “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” part that leaves me flabbergasted. I saw, the Passion of the Christ. I grew up watching “Jesus of Nazareth” and during the crucifixion scenes of these depictions of Jesus life, I’m left wondering as to why on earth he author of Hebrews would even link this gruesome event in Jesus life to “joy”. The first word I think about when watching these Hollywood productions of Jesus death probably would not be “joy”. More likely quite the opposite.

The “joy” only makes sense when we consider the verses context. In short, seeing us trust in His work in the cross brings Him “joy”. The joy is not necessarily in the process of suffering at the cross, but seeing that it was all worth it in releasing us into our freedom from death, and in that we can be encouraged and “not lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3)

Be encouraged – you were the joy set before Him, and as he endured the cross almost 2000 years ago, he looks down the corridors of time and in his beaten state, he says “you’re worth it!”

discussion/reflection questions – do you see yourself as someone God values highly enough to lay His life down for? Why/Why not? Would you be willing to receive His non-obligatory love for you?

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