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.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Pilate and his wife had convinced the high priest and Jewish leadership that Jesus really hadn’t done anything deserving of death? (Luke 23.4, Matt 27.19) Jesus would not have been the perfect sacrifice that allows us to be redeemed before the Father. The cross was an absolute necessity in the Father’s plan. So Jesus, God the Son, took on what was for Him the lowly form of a man.
Through His life, Jesus revealed the heart of the Father for His children. Through his death, Jesus became the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice that humans were never able to offer. And through His resurrection, Jesus once and for all time defeated Satan and death. For now both are still a part of our lives. For believers a time is coming when they will be a far and distant memory.
The Shame of the Cross
What of the cross? The writer of Hebrews says Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame because of the joy that was before Him. The shame of the cross came from people’s attitude toward the cross: those who used it as a tool of punishment, torture, and execution and those who could do nothing more than look upon it. Jesus didn’t care how people viewed the cross or those who hung upon it. For Him, it was a means of achieving an end no one but the Father could ever have imagined. Who ever would have guessed redemption would come by such a means and at such a cost?
Had suffering great pain been the point of the cross would it really have been endurable, even by the God-man? The joy set before Jesus is what made the sacrifice on the cross endurable. Click To Tweet He was in the perfect will of the Father. It is only in that place that Jesus was able to experience deep joy in the midst of great pain.
Looking to Jesus
God sometimes calls me to a road filled with pain and suffering so that He will be glorified in ways I can’t begin to comprehend. When that happens, He also calls me to despise the shame I may feel from other people’s judgment. Even my own judgment can fall into this category. Jesus pointed the way. He reminds me I, too, can despise the shame because of the certain hope and confidence I can have in the Father. His plan will be fulfilled and a work I cannot begin to imagine will be realized.
If I get hung up on the shame, I tend to pull back in fear. I may also put my efforts into avoiding condemnation. At that point my eyes have turned toward those whose judgment ultimately does not matter and away from the Father who is calling me to the difficult path. Even worse, I risk missing the joy the Father has for me, as well as the blessings that come from fulfilling His will.
Jesus paved the way. When it comes to pain, suffering, and sacrifice, God does not ask me to do anything His Son has not already done. The joy I experience in the midst of the trial is satisfying and fulfilling beyond belief. And that joy continues long after the trial has ended.