"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:2
On this Easter weekend I thought I'd take a few minutes to think of Jesus on the Cross, the agony He endured, how it was possible He could do this as a man, not as God . . . and what we can learn to help us through our difficult seasons. Below is an excerpt from a letter I recently sent to my Prayer Team on this subject.
I believe there is an important difference between enduring and maturing.
Often in Christianity we focus on enduring … hanging in there until we get through the illness, financial struggle, emotional battle or relationship breakdown. We can focus on the end result, the moment of breakthrough and the time when this particular season has faded into yesteryear.
But is that the overcoming life the Bible talks about?
What if enduring will always be part of our Christian walk? If we are living from high point to high point, then we will have very limited seasons of joy – the enemy will make sure of that!
If, instead, we put maturing as our focus (rather than enduring) then it shifts the expectation and moves the goalpost from ‘answer’ to ‘attitude’.
Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He didn’t endure to get back to heaven where He could put His feet up and pray and reconnect with His Father and friends. He didn’t endure in order to prove that He could overcome the agony and save the world. He didn’t endure in order to get on to the next season of His life.
He endured because of joy.
Maturity always chooses fruit over feelings. The fruit of the Spirit – joy – over the feelings of pain and shame, which were a deeply painful reality for Jesus at that moment.
In The Discovery Bible program, which gives insight into the Greek and Hebrew meanings of the scripture, it says this about the word ‘joy’ in Hebrews 12:2:
Joy (5479/xará) is completely grace-dependent and therefore circumstance-independent; earthly happiness however is circumstance-dependent. "Happiness" depends on favorable circumstances ("happenings"); joy depends only on knowing God's favor (grace).
Knowing God’s favour (grace) today is what allows us to walk with an infectious, peace-filled, grace-given joy.
It is the reason Jesus could endure – because He had matured to the level of choosing God’s grace over life’s challenges.
I pray this for all of us today and in this Easter season.
That we would walk in a new level of maturity and joy – filled with the knowledge that our Saviour has gone ahead of us; showing us it is possible to endure even the most painful seasons with joy in our hearts . . . because we know that victory resides on the other side waiting for us.
As does a Saviour . . . waiting with nail-scarred hands.