April 14, 2019

"For the Joy Set before Him"

Philippians 2:5-18

…looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:2]


We have referred to this verse at least a few times in our Philippians study. Remember that the key theme is joy. “Joy” and “rejoicing” are used several times in four short chapters of Philippians. Joy is vastly different from happiness, pleasure, amusement, or other personal emotions. Joy comes from serving God and others, which by the way are the two greatest commandments in the Law [ref. Matt 22:36-40]. Simply put, joy is pleasing God; doing things His way; doing His will.


Hebrews 12:2 describes a great example. Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,…” The Cross of Calvary was void of happy and pleasurable emotions; yet was filled with joy. The joy was from doing the Father’s will and saving others. It was the ultimate God-centered and others centered work, with self being placed on the altar. Joy came through self-sacrifice and great suffering.


In our Philippians passage we read of this ultimate God-centered and others centered work. Jesus, “who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” [Php 2:6-8]


While this passage provides insight into the Person of Jesus Christ; fully God and fully man, the real act of power was our Savior’s humility. He left His place of glory and became vulnerable to death. This speaks volumes of His humility “for the joy that was set before Him.”


The radical thing is that Jesus found joy in the Cross. That is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend but by Hebrews 12:2 it is true. The joy that was set before Him was the Father’s will and our salvation.


Jesus willingly endured the suffering, shame, and death of crucifixion; yet in it He experienced joy. Incomprehensible apart from the revelation of the Spirit.




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