“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 (ESV)
Recite using the acronym:
L T J , T F A P O O F , W F T J T W S B H E T C , D T S , A I S A T R H O T T O G . HEBREWS 12:2
Read Full Passage HERE
Last week we discussed the fractured nature of the world in the aftermath of the fall of humanity. Before the fall, joy was something to be grasped; it was immediate and instantaneous due to our proximity with the Father. But now, in our fractured existence, the full realization and experience of joy are still promised, yet not in their entirety while we are on Earth. Joy is made complete by Christ’s work on the cross, but also through our sanctification and obedience to the Word as we are molded into the likeness of Christ, being all the more prepared for His return to come.
Therefore, obedience and sanctification aren’t about God sucking the joy out of life but are rather about helping you find real joy in his perfect design for humanity. God isn’t asking you to give up good and pleasurable things because he is a cruel tyrant. Instead, He is helping us to find the source of real joy. He is peeling back the layers of illusion found in the allure of sin. Things humanity clings to, such as sex, alcohol, entertainment, seem to be the pinnacle of pleasure in the short span of our lives. This is a lie from the enemy himself. God knows those things are empty and unable to fill the void in our hearts where He once was. He knows they are frivolous and unable to satisfy because He designed us to be satisfied in Himself. God wants us to remove the hold each of those idols has on us, remove them from the throne of our hearts in obedience and give the throne back to its rightful King. There is an order in which we receive the fullness of joy. Our trials, sanctification, and obedience must predate the receiving of the fulfillment of joy because we are still on earth, living in our fallen nature.
Hence, to go back to last week's question: is suffering endured by the Christian merely through given joy, or is a new joy PRODUCED through our suffering? I believe this passage speaks volumes in finding our answer to this. Just as Christ “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” we also endure for the joy that is to come and not merely because we have joy. We live in a post-cross and post-resurrection world, which means that the joy that Christ suffered for has been obtained and is now accessible to us in part, but there is also a hope for joy accessible to us through the suffering which we endure. What our Old Testament forefathers looked forward to in faith, we now look back to, having seen the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the first coming of Christ. So although we can look forward in faith to the joy in the second coming of Christ that is to come, we are also given joy by looking back on the promises He has already fulfilled.
As Jesus walked to the cross, He was able to look forward merely for the joy set before Him. And although the same is true of us–that when we pick up our cross and follow after Him, we do it for the joy that is to come, it’s also true that we carry our cross because of the joy and hope that has already been accomplished in the working of the cross.
So, in conclusion, joy is first found in the workings of Christ already accomplished, in the commands of Christ working for our sanctification, and lastly in the promises of His return that we look forward to in hope.
Thank you for being obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross. Because you suffered and were obedient as man, I look to you for comfort as I follow the path you walked before me. The path of obedience and hope for the joy found in you alone. Forgive me when I quickly forget where true joy lies, and I look to things of this world to satisfy. Reorient my heart toward you, allowing you to take your rightful place on its throne. Give me the strength to walk through life in a manner worthy of your calling, giving me a new lens to look through, keeping my gaze focused on the joy that is to come.
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