“…(Jesus) who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The term joy is not one we typically associate with the seven weeks of the Lenten season. Joy is an emotion usually reserved for the seasons of Christmas and Easter.
The emotions of godly sobriety and repentance are usually associated with Lent—and rightly so. Our thoughts focus on the need for forgiveness of sins, as we consider the suffering, sorrow, shame, and death our Lord Jesus endured to reconcile sinners unto God.
Also, Lenten hymns generally reflect a more somber attitude. Hymns such as “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” (TLH #153) or “Go to Dark Gethsemane” (#159) certainly do not convey the feeling of joy. Even the hymn “Sweet the Moments, Rich in Blessing” (#155) speaks of “all our sins on Jesus laid.”
Then too, the Holy Week events of Maundy Thursday evening and Good Friday were certainly not “joyful” for the Savior. If there were some other way sinners could get to heaven—other than through the beating, crown of thorns, agony of the cross, and death which lay ahead for Him—Jesus pleaded in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Father would take away His cup of suffering.
But there was no other way! And so the “Lamb [went] uncomplaining forth, the guilt of all men bearing” (TLH #142:1).
So it is very fitting that we soberly and somberly meditate upon the Passion of our Lord. After all, it was our sin that required Jesus to endure spitting, whipping, mocking, a crown of thorns,
nails, and finally death, for the Lord “laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b).
Yet there is joy to be found in Lent! In our text from the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, we read of Jesus that “for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus found joy—joy in the outcome of Lent, in doing His Father’s will, in accomplishing God’s plan of salvation! He found joy in redeeming us, in purchasing us back from hell and Satan, and in giving us eternal life.
He found joy in redeeming us, in purchasing us back from hell and Satan, and in giving us eternal life.
Jesus also found joy in knowing what would come after the horrors of Good Friday. Whenever He spoke to His disciples of what was going to happen on Good Friday, He always ended by saying, “And the third day He will rise again” (Mark 10:34). Life would result from His death!
Therefore, we also find joy amid the need for somber reflection and repentance which the Passion history impresses upon us.
Knowing that Jesus endured everything He did because He wanted us to spend eternity with Him and His Father, we find the joy of our salvation!
We find joy knowing that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
We find the joy of knowing beyond a doubt that God loves us—for look at what He was willing to do to reconcile us to Himself!
Hallelujah (“Praise the Lord”)! Amen!
Thou hast suffered great affliction
And hast borne it patiently,
Even death by crucifixion,
Fully to atone for me;
Thou didst choose to be tormented
That my doom should be prevented.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus, unto Thee.