The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics athletes are gathering together to compete and find out who gets the gold and who doesn’t…who wins and who loses. Many of these athletes have trained for years just so they may compete and perhaps take home a medallion. Others may be looking forward to the prestige, recognition or perhaps the wealth that comes with placing first. Whatever rewards compel them to endure -it’s only until after they’ve gone through the trials and win the competition that they finally receive their prize or realize their goal. Something set before these world-class athletes drives them to endure such an exhausting and grueling regimen.
The Bible says there was something that was placed before Jesus that compelled Him to endure the horrors of Golgotha. Heb 12:2 says “…in view of the joy set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Those things which he had to endure, the flogging, the naked disgrace, the crucifixion did not come as a surprise, as He knew what was ahead of Him. What then was it that compelled Him to endure such a painful, tortuous and agonizing death? What could that joy have ever been? How was this tied to the cross? Jesus never lacked joy. He never lacked for anything, for in lacking was to imply that he was deficient in something. My limited theology would not let me accept that it would be possible for an imperfect Son of God could ever have existed – as that would make the trinity deficient as well. The verse is clear – the cross produced something that caused Jesus to have more joy. There was something on the other side of that cross that didn’t yet exist that compelled Jesus to endure the brutality and shame of the cross or even worse -His Fathers wrath. What did not exist before the cross that now exists because of it? Well….I’ll tell you….its the Church!
Who then is the Church? It is all who submit themselves to the Lordship and Kingship of Christ. It is all of His disciples. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all who’ve repented and believed. We are the joy that was set before Him. He endured all that for us, His Bride, willingly and out of love for her. How deep must His affections have been to endure Golgotha -especially when it was done willingly without restraint. Paul writes in Gal 2:20 –“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Phil 2:8 “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” It’s an idea just too radical to believe, too difficult to comprehend and understand. I just can’t wrap my mind around this, but in faith I believe that He endured all that for me, for you, for us. On this cross-the beauty of that verse“…the joy set before Him…” is displayed like a fragrant flower in full bloom. Jesus Christ ,the King of King, Lord of Lords fixed His eyes upon each one of us and said “This one is mine.” And in doing so He plucked us right out of an eternal existence of despair, utter hopelessness, abject poverty, and relentless darkness.
THE LAMB’S BRIDE AND THE MARRIAGE SUPPER
In Rev 19:9 John writes ...And the angel said to me, “Write this: “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Later an angle says to John in Rev 21:9 “….come, I will show you the bride, The Lamb’s wife.” Jesus endured the cross so that He would be united with His Bride-His church willingly and unconstrained forever and ever with Him in heaven. Something inside of us should warm up when we realize that God rejoices in us. Our family, neighbors and friends are also ones who are the “joy that was set before Him.” When we realize how precious we all are to Him we should begin to look at others very differently. How could we fail to share with them how they may also receive an invitation to such a glorious celebration?
So now when you gather together remind each other and rejoice that there is a wonderful feast in your future. You might be sitting right next to your neighbor at the Lamb’s marriage supper.
PS…I’ll be hanging around at the coffee pot…..(there just has to be coffee in heaven!)