For the joy set before him he endured the cross. … (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
Given the current condition of the world this Easter, it’s a question worth asking. What possible joy could there have been promised to Jesus for going to the cross? Jesus was already God, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He was the second person of the Trinity before the world began. He would remain so long after the world aged into cosmic dust.
What could Jesus have seen as joy, on the other side of the cross?
Was it you?
The man and the woman’s original sin in the Garden of Eden was being dissatisfied with their understanding of what God had created them to be – his children. Rather, they wanted to become like God. When they believed the devil’s lie and ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they did not become like God. They became separated from God. The magnitude of the separation was evident in God’s words: “What [is] this thou hast done?” (Genesis 3:13 YLT).
So religion began; the many pathways back to God. None has been successful. Down through the ages, both the man and the woman remained infinitely less than they had been created to be. Their disobedience in the garden blocked their relationship with God as his children.
Many centuries later, God entered his creation as a man. He emptied himself of his godly attributes and became a servant to mankind (Philippians 2:6-8 YLT). His goal was to become the sinless sacrifice that would restore all men and women to what they had originally been created to be: His children.
So what was the joy that was set before Jesus to enable him to endure the cross?
It was you.
Jesus Christ created the universe, the world and everything in it (John 1:2-4 AMP). He was the one who in the garden breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life – God’s own spirit (Genesis 2:7 AMP).
After the Fall and resulting separation, Jesus couldn’t let it go. So he came back. Dying on the cross He did what we couldn’t do for ourselves. Everyone who returns to God stops at the foot of the cross, to accept the sacrifice, freely given. The problem is that many of us remain there at the foot of the cross our entire lives. Jesus’ dying words from the cross, “It is finished,” (John 19:30 AMP) just don’t seem to apply to us.
After the resurrection, the angels at the empty tomb asked the first visitors, “Why are you looking for the living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5-6 AMP). With the Resurrection, Jesus moved to the other side of the cross. The cross remains a one-time, never to be repeated event in human history. The joy that moved Jesus to the cross was the promise of your restored love and fellowship with him on the other side.
The central question for all of us on this Easter is, “Where are you in relation to the cross?” Are you ignorant of the cross? Is it off in the distance, where you sometimes glimpse it? Have you approached it and turned away, because you are unworthy of such a gift? Have you knelt before it, to thank God for his goodness in doing what you could never have done, and there you remain? Or have you knelt, given thanks and moved to the other side, so that Jesus may experience in you the joy that was set before him to endure the cross?
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