The Joy Set Before Him
The Anchor of Faith
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.—Hebrews 12:2
By Oscar Magnuson
We have in Jesus a most wonderful example of love and devotion to the heavenly Father, as well as of self-sacrificing love on behalf of others. In our text the apostle points out the important fact that one of the greatest incentives to faithfulness that enabled Jesus to endure “such great contradiction of sinners against himself” was the “joy” that was set before him. We are not to think that this implies that Jesus’ faithfulness was prompted by selfishness but rather that the joy to which he looked forward was that of a still further service to the Father, in that he was to be used as the channel of blessings for the condemned race of mankind whom he had come to earth to redeem.
As we look unto Jesus now we should note well the whole-hearted enthusiasm of his sacrifice, and to realize that if we are to share with him the great joys of the future we must be willing to follow him now—all the way to death. As we look unto him we cannot fail to note his unswerving fidelity to his Father and to the great mission he had come to earth to perform. There was no disposition on his part to hold back or to reason around the plain statements of the prophecies in which his course was mapped out for him.
Not only did the joy that was set before Jesus enable him to press along faithfully in the way of sacrifice, but the present joy that was involved in sacrifice was also no small source of strength to him. Jesus by his course of faithfulness proved the truth of the statement, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
But the “joy of the Lord” is not experienced by those who are half-hearted in carrying out their consecration vows. The real joy of the course of love can only be experienced by those who by their zeal put themselves wholly on the altar of sacrifice and keep the sacrifice there until it is fully consumed. Jesus said, “Not all who say, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Jesus realized that this was as true of himself as it was of his followers, and he was determined that nothing should stand in his way of full acquiescence to the divine will. Herein was the secret of his joy, both for the present and for the future.
In John 15:10, 11 Jesus gives us some very interesting information along this line. He says: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” By these words Jesus shows us clearly that the secret of his joy was his full obedience to his Father’s will; and so it will be with everyone of us.
We cannot expect to have the joy of the Lord, either now, or in the future, unless we become wholly wrapped up in the Father’s will. Too many times we have the disposition to figure out some easier way that the one mapped out for us in the divine word. We try to reason around the plain statements of the scriptures, especially when those statements concern the doing of things that are contrary to the desires of our fallen flesh. This ought not to be! We should more and more endeavor to put the will of the flesh behind us and to really “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
Why Look for Excuses?
When it comes to actually obeying the divine commands we frequently look for excuses or for “some other way.” This indicates that our consecration is not as full as it should be. We say that we love the Lord’s will, but when it comes to actually doing it, we hesitate, and many times seek to change the plain statements of the word to suit our own selfish conceptions. All too frequently, I fear, we are like the small boy to whom the father gave two coins and instructed him that he was to put one of them in the collection basket on Sunday morning. One of these coins was a nickel and the other a twenty-five cent piece.
The boy, like all other boys, of course preferred to keep the more and desirable and valuable coin for himself but realized that his father would not be pleased to have him do so. After much thought he decided what to do. He put the nickel in the collection basket and kept the quarter for himself. Later his father asked him about it, and he explained that he put in the nickel because the Bible said that “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver,” and he knew that he could give the nickel much more cheerfully than he could the twenty-five cent piece.
Is not our reasoning frequently very similar to that of this boy’s? But should we not resolve to be more like our Master and leader who permitted nothing to stand in the way of full obedience to the Father? Surely we do not want to be robbed of our precious heritage of joy simply because of our half-hearted attitude toward God and his will!
Are Ye Able?
How is it with us? Are the spiritual joys so dear to us that we are counting all things else as loss and dross? Is this actually the viewpoint we are taking of earthly treasures of time, talent, convenience, money, and influence in the doing of the Father’s will? Are we actually willing to make the same supreme sacrifice in purchasing the spiritual joys as was made by Jesus?
Just think of the sacrifice that Jesus made. First of all, he left the glory he had with the Father before the world was and came down to earth. He became the poorest of men. Of him it is written, that while “the foxes of fields have holes and the birds of the air have nests, the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Can we say that we have sacrificed very much in view of his great sacrifice?
Jesus’ obedient sacrifice was not for a day or a month or a year but it carried him right on to the cross. What a sacrifice! Speaking of it, Paul says to us, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4). No, our sacrifice has not yet involved the actual surrender of our lives. Yet we want the joy of the Lord without going all the way with him in order to obtain that joy! Let us resolve that, from this day forward, we will more fully enter into that condition of full consecration, that full setting apart to do the divine will, by which course only we may hope to have that blessed joy that belongs to all the faithful.