“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrew 12:2 NLT)
Have you ever done something you don’t like to do for the anticipated joy you’ll have when it’s completed? The first thing that came to my mind was running the sweeper and swiffering the floors. It takes me about two hours, and I’m beat by the time I’m done, but I love the big smile on my bride’s face and the warm hug she gives me when I’m done. Pleasing her brings me great joy.
On a much larger scale, I believe the joy submitting to the Cross brought to Jesus, was the anticipated smile on His Father’s face and the joy His Father would express to Jesus for a job well done. It wasn’t simply Jesus’ joy alone, but that of another who was more important to Him than His own life – His Father.
John Stonestreet wrote: “This is not unlike something Jesus alluded to when He said, in one breath, that we should ‘take up our cross’ to follow Him, and in the very next breath that He came to give us ‘complete joy.’ At first glance, these promises seem contradictory. They aren’t.’”
What brings you the greatest measure of joy? And please don’t misunderstand, joy is a lot different than happiness or pleasure. There are multiple ways to feel good or find satisfaction, even for a job well done. For some, doing their best and seeing the results of their completed work is joy in and of itself, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not enough. It’s setting the bar far too low.
For those of us who have invested our lives in the work of the Kingdom of God, our greatest joy isn’t found in anything we do, except it’s done to the glory of the One we love more than we love our own life. That’s essentially what “Cross-bearing” is and means. Taking up our cross basically means to trade our will for God’s; to trade our life or His; to live for His honor and fame, not our own.
The greatest joy for a Jesus follower is never found in the work of our hands, except to the extent it’s done in the name of and for the glory of our Savior. Submission to the will of our heavenly Father is the means to a much greater end than mere personal satisfaction. It’s the gratitude we feel and the complete joy that floods our heart knowing that our lives have value and meaning that far outweigh the meager contribution we can make to life on this planet.
We have the privilege and opportunity to invest our whole being – heart, mind, soul, and body – in the eternal end of helping people find hope and life in Jesus – who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life!” (John 14:6). To live simply for wealth, prestige, position, power, or acclaim on the earth is like filling a huge swimming pool and calling it the ocean. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.
Perhaps John Piper said it best when he wrote: “The domestication of cross-bearing into coughs and cranky spouses takes the radical thrust out of Christ’s call. He is calling every believer to ‘renounce all that he has,’ to ‘hate his own life’ (Luke 14:33, 26), and to take the road of obedience joyfully, no matter the loss on this earth. Following Jesus means that wherever obedience requires it, we will accept betrayal and rejection and beating and mockery and crucifixion and death. Jesus gives us the assurance that if we will follow Him to Golgotha during all the Good Fridays of this life, we will also rise with Him on the last Easter Day of the resurrection. ‘Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). ‘Whovever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life’ (John 12:25).”
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊