Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. – Hebrews 12:1-11
When I think of Jesus’ perfect faith, I think of the little phrase here in Hebrews. Jesus, “for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Jesus saw beyond the suffering he was to endure and saw a joyful outcome. We might think a good analogy might be that of working out. “No gain without pain,” they say. And it’s true. Diane and I work out regularly at a local gym, and some days the workouts are extremely difficult if not painful.
But the analogy breaks down for two major reasons. First of all the suffering Jesus endured was far and away more horrific than even the most brutal workout. Jesus’ suffering on merely a physical level was sufficient to cause death. But Jesus also suffered emotionally and spiritually. He endured the cross like no other criminal or even any other martyr experienced. He bore the sins of the world. He experienced an eternity in a moment when God abandoned him.
The joy is also greater by any comparison. I may have joy when my workout is ended. I have even greater joy if I combine my workout with good healthy eating. And as I gain health and strength there is more joy. But even though my wife is pleased if I am healthier, the benefits of my pain and suffering are not all that far-reaching. And my joy is truly rather self-centered.
Jesus’ joy, however, is of an entirely different sort. Jesus taught that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents (cf. Luke 15). Jesus’ joy is that of an obedient Son having served and pleased his heavenly Father, but purer than any mortal sinful son who might be tempted to gloat.
Jesus’ joy is knowing that he pleased the Father for our sake, and because he has done so, we are now reconciled to God. His joy is knowing that when a sinner repents the way has already been opened up for access to God and eternal salvation has been won for all who believe.
Jesus’ joy is knowing that he has done all the hard work – work that we could never do ourselves – and that he has secured for us a place in his eternal kingdom. His joy is your salvation!