Christine Caine wrote, “For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) For the joy set before Him . . . that’s us! When Jesus was on the cross, the joy that kept Him going—the passion that fueled His endurance of pain—was knowing the freedom His death, burial, and resurrection would produce in our lives.” That’s so beautiful.
What kind of love is this God has for us? He has always been thinking of you. When He came to earth as a baby, He was thinking of you. When Jesus walked the dusty streets during His ministry, He was thinking of you. And when He hung on that gruesome and horrifying cross, Jesus was thinking about you.
We often talk about the love we have for Christ, but I think we can easily forget the flip side of that coin. The love Jesus has for you and I is indescribable, though it never stops folks like me from trying. I want to know His love. I recognize I’ll never understand it, but I want to know it. What kind of love lays down its life for another? The love of a parent, sibling, or cherished friend perhaps. Some of us are fortunate enough to have known this sort of love in our lives. Sadly, many have no context so such a comparison means little.
Even for those of us who can relate, the analogy quickly breaks down. Jesus is neither parent, sibling, or friend. He is all of these and more. He is Creator and He is God. While fully human, pain and torture were no deterrent for Him. He knew what was coming. He could have stopped it, but He didn’t. Such humility is foreign to us. What person, having the power to do so, wouldn’t avoid suffering and at the same time rescue those they love? I Would have blown it. I would have chickened out. My guess is you would have as well. What must it have been like to know what was coming and to go through it anyway by choice?
Why would Jesus do this? It was for the joy set before Him. It was for you and me. He saw past the pain, past the moment, and into a future containing you. And He loved you desperately. You were worth the price. You were worth the pain. You were worth everything.
I still can’t get my head around it. Why Lord? What was it about me that made it worth You dying? What was it that made the cross Your choice? I don’t see it. I fail you… all the time! I’m an imperfect representation of You to others. I don’t have the faith to do what you compel me to do. And for this You died? I cannot fathom being the subject of the “joy set before You”. It’s too much, yet it’s true. We are the reason You came. We are the reason You willingly suffered. I am overcome and overwhelmed. Thank You, Jesus. It’s so feeble, but what else can I say? I’m not worth it, but You say I am. Please help me live a life that at least evens the scales just a little. Help me live my life worthy of the price you paid. Help me live my life as Your joy.