The night before Easter, our family watched the movie “The Gospel of John.” And as is often the case with God, we saw and heard nuances that we hadn’t seen before in the story. Jesus was so emphatic about what He was going to do. He wanted His followers to be prepared, to believe, to keep on believing, no matter what happened. And yet, though He knew the “rest of the story,” still He was in great anguish about what He must go through. What was His motivator? What kept Him going? Just obedience? I don’t think so.
Easter Sunday morning we were reminded about all that Jesus did for us. Suffered, sacrificed, raised from the dead.
It is truly an “unbelievable” story unless the Spirit breathes on a person so that they might see and believe and be saved. But here is the ah-ha moment:
“But for the joy set before him he endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2. The pastor passed over this verse but the Spirit connected that verse with scenes from the movie the night before. The joy. What joy? What joy could be so great that it could carry Him through His last hours on this planet?
Paying for the sins of the world? Yes, but there’s more.
Jesus was the only person on planet earth who knew what it was to be filled with the Spirit of God and to walk in complete connection with the Father. And He knew, if He endured the cross, that we would be able to experience what He already enjoyed all the time. Talk about a motivation.
His joy was completely based on the benefit for others. For me and you. He was willing to die purely for the purpose that we might have our true lives back with our Father. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11 ) But for the joy set before Him… He had a long view of the journey and His goal was the the blessing of others.
I don’t think I suffer very long or very often just so that others might come to fullness of life. How about you? But here is the hope. He did it. He went through it all and now we do have the Spirit. We do have fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. We are restored. We are children of God with His joy inside us. So let us run truly out of His joy for the benefit of others. Allow me to expand this beautiful passage…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
(People just like you and me who had to walk through hard life circumstances)
let us throw off everything that hinders
(So release the counterfeits and coping and quitting)
and the sin that so easily entangles.
(and silence the enemy’s lies about being unloved and unworthy)
And let us run with perseverance
(Everyday believe anew, try again without grumbling )
the race marked out for us,
(the journey of living out His plans)
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
(allowing Him to adjust our vision to see what He sees)
the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
(He has done it, He is doing it, He will do it.)
For the joy set before him
(With a heart full of confidence for our good)
he endured the cross,
(he made the blood payment that settles every debt)
scorning its shame,
(shutting up the accuser once and for all)
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(He showed us our rightful inheritance.)
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
(The Spirit leads you through the maze of living)
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(so you can experience that He is everything you need for life and joy.)
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (expanded)