Joy at the cross

Dozens of portraits depict Jesus with a crown of thorns crucified on a cross. In all of them, there is the look of pain and sorrow accompanied by such a long and painful death.

What we don’t see in any of these portraits is Jesus’ joy.

Yes, that’s right. Joy.

Humans always equate sorrow with pain and death. Have you ever thought death could bring joy?

The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2b NET). One may ask the question: “What joy?”

Jesus’ death produced forgiveness of sins. His death made possible the cleansing of the human conscience from sin (Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21). Christ’s suffering and death and the shedding of his blood made our righteousness possible (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). All of this resulted from the son of God’s sacrifice on the cross. All these must have given Jesus joy.

There is one other answer. Again from the writer of Hebrews we have this: “For it fitted for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10 NET). Jesus’ suffering and death made it possible for him to bring “many sons to glory.”

My wife and I felt such great joy when our children were born. It is a feeling that is unparalleled in human life. How many “sons” has Jesus given the father? By now, the number is in the tens or hundreds of thousands and still growing. Jesus knew his death would make it possible to give God the obedient sons he always wanted.

God loved us so much he wanted us to become his sons. He gave his only son to die to make that a reality! By the inspiration of God, the apostle Paul in the books of Romans and Galatians extolled the will of God in giving Jesus on the cross to make beloved sons of all who obey the gospel. So, there was joy at the cross!

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John Henson

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, John Henson has been a husband for 43 years and a preacher for 34 years. He currently serves as the preacher for the Dibrell Church of Christ in McMinnville, Tennessee.

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