The truth of this verse is astonishing. Jesus endured the cross for us because this work of salvation was to be a joy to Him. It isn’t always easy to imagine the final joy when the going gets tough, even when we know the end result will be wonderful. As a mother I can remember my effort as I laboured through the births of our children. But I can also recall, with even more clarity, the delight of holding a new born baby in my arms when the struggle was over. Jesus held onto the knowledge of the joy that He knew was before Him, even through the agony of the cross.
These days it seems that gratification is required to be instant. The idea of working for an end result, let alone being prepared to suffer for it, is anathema to many people. We live in ‘now’ society. Saving up for the desired purchases over several months seems a poor alternative to buying on the ‘plastic’ today. Quick fixes, ready meals, instant coffee - we want it all with a minimum of effort or work.
I have spoken to many people who have never reached their goal because they aren’t willing to stick at it when the going got tough. It might be learning to play a musical instrument, studying for an exam, or getting fit. Maybe it depends how much you really want to reach that goal and what motivates you? If the sense of achievement in reaching the goal is your only motive, it may not be enough if the cost becomes too great. The crucial thing is the strength of your personal motivation and the value you place on achieving the end result. Do you want it enough to do whatever it takes?
This verse could imply that for Jesus the prize of joy, for Himself, was the goal. But His own joy wasn’t His motive or His goal. The motive for His endurance was love, His great love for you and me, and His goal was to offer us a potential. That potential is the possibility of a renewed relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we respond to this offer we can develop an everlasting relationship with our Heavenly Father. This brings a wonderful release of joy into our lives but, amazingly, it’s this that really brings the fullness of joy to Jesus.
‘The joy that was set before Him’ is the delightful by-product of our entering into salvation through Jesus. What an exciting thought. Today let’s increase Jesus’ joy, and our own, as we walk more fully in all that Jesus won for us.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, strengthen me in my resolve to live life to bring joy to Jesus. Amen.
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