You are the Joy of Jesus
“…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
Webster’s defines joy as: “a feeling of great happiness; a source or cause of great happiness”. Have you ever wondered what joy Jesus had in His mind that would move Him to die in such a horrific way? I think the quick answer would be returning to heaven, but I would challenge that answer. The night before He was crucified, we see Jesus begging God to not allow Him to die the next day. Our fully human nature assumes He didn’t want to suffer the pain of death, but I don’t think that’s it. Jesus, being fully God, would have already known the pain would be temporary and necessary and I don’t think it would have been enough for Him to ask for the death to be put off. I think Jesus didn’t want to leave His friends here on earth. They brought Him joy.
In chapter 15 of John, Jesus changes the relationship with humanity, “…but I have called you friends…”. Clearly, Jesus had developed deep bonds with the people who traveled with Him. Leaving good friends is never easy. Friendship brings joy, happiness and community to our lives, and unlike now when we typically only see our friends now and then, Jesus lived and traveled with His friends every single day! It would have been crushing to leave them.
It could be, then, that the joy set before Him was the people who lived life with Him while He was here on earth. He knew that enduring the cross meant a new relationship with these friends that would lead to eternity with the people that He loved deeply. I think this is part of the story, but not the whole story. Once Jesus had risen from the grave, He encountered Thomas. Thomas was a follower of His who was finding it hard to believe the resurrection actually took place. When Jesus came to him, Thomas required proof. Once Jesus showed him the scars and Thomas believed, He pointed out that while it was good for him to believe, he only believed because he actually saw proof. Jesus then said that those who will believe without seeing are blessed. That’s us!
Jesus knew from the beginning that He was going to change the world forever. He wasn’t comparing Himself to any other gods because He always knew He was the incarnation of the one true God. He wasn’t concerned about the actual process of dying because He knew the outcome, life. His joy, the joy that was set before Him, was relationship with us! YOU ARE THE JOY OF JESUS! You, in all of your flawed behaviors and sin, are the joy of Jesus. Jesus went to the cross with you on His mind because He knew that one day, far into the future, you were going to believe His sacrifice of love without having to see the actual scars. He didn’t just call His disciples friends; He calls you friend.
I believe fully that if we could really grasp this, really and truly take in that we are a friend of Jesus Christ, we would live radically different. Do you know that Jesus spends His time interceding in prayer before the Father on your behalf? (Romans 8:34) And because of His sacrifice and intercession, we have nothing in the world that we will ever encounter which can separate us from Him! (Romans 8:37-39). Jesus endured the cross because you are the joy that was set before Him.
If you are having a hard time believing this, you aren’t alone. This isn’t something you grasp and then never struggle with again. This is part of your identity, and your identity is one of the places the enemy knows he can trip you up. But I promise, with every moment that you do believe you are the joy of Jesus, you sink that anchor of His love a little deeper and you walk a little more confidently. This is part of the sanctification process, and part of the journey.
You are the Joy of Jesus!!