The Joy Set Before Him
In Hebrews 11, the author lists pillars of faith. These are men and women who served after God in trying circumstances. They obeyed God in their lives even when in some of their most difficult circumstances. The author uses these people to encourage Christians enduring trials. He wants them to know that others have held fast to their convictions.
The list crescendos at the beginning of chapter 12 by referencing Jesus. He is the ultimate example of faithfulness. He went to the cross and died, even though he was innocent. He could have been discouraged and chosen to abandon the Father’s plan. Satan would have wanted this to happen. Yet Jesus remained faithful.
A common thread that the author mentions is motivation. He mentions that Jesus was obedient for the joy set before Him. In Hebrews 11, we see these men and women are faithful because they know God will reward them (vs. 6) with a heavenly country (vs. 16). People maintain their faith because they lack past their present circumstances and focus on a future reward.
We understand this with physical goals. When we undertake a trying endeavor, we have to focus on the result. Otherwise, we might find ourselves overwhelmed with the hard work needed to achieve our objectives. The grind is not usually what motivates us. It is what we get for pushing through the hard times.
What was the joy set before Jesus? It obviously cannot be the heavenly country that Abraham and others sought because Jesus came from heaven. He did not have to endure all of these things to reach heaven. Jesus died because that was the plan for our salvation. His death was required so that we may have forgiveness of sins. The joy that Jesus focused on was our redemption.
This thought should overwhelm us. On our most trying days and in the most challenging circumstances, we focus on our heavenly home. We understand that our momentary challenges are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us after this life (2 Corinthians 4:17). When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, weeping in agony about what was coming, his focus was on you and me. He thought about restoring us to a relationship with Him. He meditated on us joining Him in His heavenly home. Why did Jesus endure the cross and despise the shame? For the joy of being in a relationship with you.