Devotion for the Week...
This is the third week of Advent. For the first two weeks we looked at Hope and Peace and this week we look at Joy.
Last Monday or Tuesday, when I was thinking about what I would write for this devotion, my thought process went something like this: "Next week is 'joy'...what will I say about joy?..."for the joy set before Him"...well, that's not very Christmassy, is it?...there must be something about Christmas and joy" But no matter how much I thought about it, that one verse of Scripture was the only one that came to mind. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to fit for Advent, even if it says nothing about the manger or the angels or the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled by His coming.
What is the verse? "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). Truth be told, Jesus endured an awful lot before He ever got to the cross.
To begin with, He endured being confined to a physical body, completely dependent on two imperfect humans to feed, cloth and protect Him. Remember, Jesus existed as God long before He ever came to earth as a baby.
He endured being tempted to sin.
He endured being hated by the religious leaders. They professed to be waiting for the promised Messiah, all the while hating the One who stood in their midst.
He endured having some of His followers leave Him when His teachings became too hard for them to embrace.
He endured being betrayed by a friend.
He endured being abandoned by the rest of His friends at the moment following Him looked dangerous.
One of His closest friends denied even knowing Him. Jesus not only endured it when it happened, He knew it was going to happen and had to endure that too.
And then, after everything else, He endured the physical anguish of the cross.
Why? Why would He willingly endure all of that? We are told it was "for the joy set before Him," and the amazing thing is that we are that joy! Everything that He endured, beginning with His incarnation as a baby right up to His death on the cross, was part of the plan to gain our salvation. To Jesus, the joy of an eternity spent enjoying our company in heaven was worth everything He endured while here on earth. Isn't that an incredible thought?
We think a lot about the joys that will be ours in heaven. About a time when "'He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). We think about how good it will be for us. But Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus will experience joy because we are there with Him!
So, if you ever doubt your worth, remember that Jesus came to earth as a baby, knowing what would happen while He was here, and that He did it all for the joy of being with you forever!