Aching muscles don’t wipe out a runner’s high. Exhausted parents reading “one last story” still delight at their child’s pleasure. My joy hovered right next to my tears when two dear friends recently entered heaven. Sometimes suffering and joy coexist.
We don’t think much about the pairing of suffering and joy. Our focus tends to be more compartmentalized: suffering or joy, not suffering and joy. Joy, of course, comes when suffering stops, but joy also can surface while suffering continues. Jesus knew that firsthand.
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Such an odd pairing: suffering and joy. We’ve heard much about Jesus’ suffering. But what was the joy that enabled him to endure that suffering?
We aren’t directly told what brought Jesus joy, but it’s not hard to imagine some things that so stirred His heart. Part of His joy must have been knowing that He was doing the Father’s will, but I think it was more than that. And more than knowing that His physical suffering was nearing its finish. And more than knowing that His agonizing separation from the Father would soon end in joyous reunion. There was, I believe, a deeper reason for Jesus’ joy.
The last words Jesus spoke from the cross – It is finished! – point to the reason for Jesus’ joy on the cross. What was finished? Our separation from God. On the cross, Jesus paid the price that bought our entrance into heaven (1 Corinthians 6:20). He found the price well worth it.
It gets even better. It’s a mystery, I know, but Jesus sees Himself as a bridegroom and sees the church and every member of it as His bride (Romans 7:4). The price Jesus paid was a literal bride price that gives each person on earth the freedom to walk into His arms. Even the anticipation of such intimacy brought Jesus great joy. He had done His part. All that remains is for each of us to accept His proposal. Then His joy – and ours – becomes complete.
Have you accepted His proposal?
What Happened on the Cross? Suffering AND Joy.
© Lynne Fox, 2017