48: Christ suffered and died to gain His joy and ours

This is part 48 of 50 in a series based on the book ‘Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die’. Read the introductory post or view all the posts in the series.

Ref: Hebrews 12:2.

The joy set before [Jesus] had many levels. It was the joy of reunion with his Father: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). It was the joy of triumph over sin: “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). It was the joy of divine rights restored: “[He] is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It was the joy of being surrounded with praise by all the people for whom he died: “There will be . . . joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”—not to mention millions (Luke 15:7).

In the same way that the hope of joy enabled Christ to endure the cross, our hope of joy empowers us to suffer with him. Jesus prepared us for this very thing when he said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). Our reward will be to enjoy God with the very joy that the Son of God has in his Father.

If Jesus had not willingly died, neither he nor we could be forever glad. He would have been disobedient. We would have perished in our sins. His joy and ours were acquired at the cross. Now we follow him in the path of love. We reckon “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Now we bear reproach with him. But then there will be undiminished joy. Any risk required by love we will endure. Not with heroic might, but in the strength of hope that “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

—Pages 114, 115

Fight for joy. That’s the thought that came to my mind as I read this chapter. It is always so much easier to have a pity-party than it is to be joyful.  Some time back, I heard a new take on “giving thanks in everything”—that we should be thankful that we know God, and we’re going to spend eternity in His presence, whatever the current circumstances. I really needed to hear that…