The joy set before Him
Hebrews 12:1-2 says this:
“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 perfector 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.”
This was my daily verse on my phone app the other day and I have found myself returning to it many times this week. Let me break down a few of my thoughts as I worked through it…
“since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” -people are watching and we have a great responsibility to them
“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” -notice that every weight and sin are listed separately. Sin is certainly a weight, but not every weight is a sin. But we still need to drop both for the next part…
“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -to have something set before us indicates that we had nothing to do with it. It is something worthy of our participation that has been presented to us for our commitment. Also, I don’t know if any of you just love running. (I admire you, but I don’t envy you.) 😉 Anything that requires endurance isn’t an easy feat. It requires drawing on something deeper than what you think you have to reach the goal. I get a little nervous when I’m invited to participate in something that requires endurance….
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith” -the founder was the first, right? He founded it and perfected it and invited us to participate in it. Faith. I think of how excited I get when I ‘discover’ something new. I don’t think I have ever been the founder of anything, but I have found lots of things that are new to me and I just love to share that with someone else and watch them get excited! I think Jesus likes that, too.
“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.” -I think there is a lot to these last statements. First note that Jesus despised the shame of the cross. The use of this word ‘despise’ here speaks to an alienation of the shame. I keep hearing the word ‘rebuke’ here. Rebuking the shame. I think Christ’s attitude toward shame is very revealing. It should give us strength to rebuke shame from being a weight in our lives. Second, I will submit to you that the idea that the ‘joy set before Jesus’ was ‘to be seated at the right hand of God’ is wrong. Wrong in the sense that the achievement of such status was not that joyful thing that drove him to endure the cross. Yes, I think Jesus certainly looked forward to being reunited with the Father. But hold on a second. That’s where he was in the first place, wasn’t it? What was the trip for anyways? I don’t know about you, but if I knew that tragedy was part of a trip, I’d just rather stay home – thank you very much! So what joy was imminent that drove Jesus to endure a shameful cross? I believe that joy was a reunion with you. Jesus is seated back home at the right hand of God waiting for you and I to join them. What Thanksgiving will be celebrated then!!