For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, NIV)
The joy set before Jesus was you and me! He went through the horrific pain, struggle and humiliation of the cross so we could find mercy, grace and life with God.
When I was 27 years old I left my job as a fifth grade teacher and took a position as an elementary school principal. That might sound good and glorious, but it was difficult . . . I mean—diarrhea every day—difficult.
I was the youngest adult in the building, I was the boss, and I was a nervous wreck. One day I was so stressed that when the secretary brought a purchase order into my office for me to sign, all I could do was scribble—and it looked nothing like my signature. The secretary saw my shaky hand and with concern said, “Oh Ryan . . .”
I was a mess.
At the time, being a principal wasn’t my dream job, but it paid the bills (nearly double what I made as a teacher) and made it possible for my wife to stay home and care for our newborn daughter. I didn’t like the stress and the struggle, but that didn’t matter. I was thankful for the job and did it for the joy set before me—my wife and my daughter.
But all that doesn’t come close to what Jesus did for you and for me.
He left Heaven, came to earth as a baby, lived as a servant, healed the sick, loved the unlovely and showed us God’s heart. And in return, He was wrongly accused, slapped, spit upon, mocked, beaten and tortured. He was stripped naked, impaled on a wooden cross and died a criminal’s death.
He could have called ten-thousand angels and stopped the pain and injustice, but He didn’t. He did the hard thing. He paid the price for you, me and the whole world so that we might be free from the power of sin and death in our lives. We were a mess, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
He did it for the joy set before Him and that joy was you and me!