Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 12:1–2 ESV)
The “assignment” for today’s devotional was to find a text from Holy Week that is an example of joy. I’ve always struggled with following assignments; I have a natural tendency to push at the boundaries. This assignment was no different! So, my text isn’t technically a Holy Week text, but it is descriptive of the mindset of Jesus Christ during Holy Week.
For the JOY set before him he endured the cross . . .
I want to affirm that, at least in part, this joy is the return to the Father and sitting down at the Father’s right hand in glory. This is true, without a doubt! But . . . didn’t Jesus come from the right hand of the Father? This was not new for the Son. It didn’t secure his position in the godhead; that joy existed before the incarnation. So, is there more to the joy that was set before him? Is there more to the joy that gave him strength to endure the cross? Is there more to the joy that motivated him to scorn the shame of the cross? May I be so bold to suggest that it is you.
God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – delights himself in his children, and he takes joy in the setting free of the captives!
“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19 NIV)
This is the message of Holy Week, of Good Friday, of Easter – Jesus Christ endured the cross and scorned its shame for you! The Son, the Father, the Spirit delight in you, rescued you, find joy in you!
The Son didn’t come into the world because the Father hated you or to condemn you (condemnation was a state we already found ourselves in), but the Son came into the world because the Father loved the world, because the Father loved you, because the Godhead takes joy in you!
Can you imagine!? This changes everything! This gives the believer strength to endure any hardship! To find joy in any circumstance! The Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit takes delight in you, finds joy in you! May we fix our eyes on him this Holy Week.
—Written by Kerry Bender, VP of International Missions.