For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Every Easter, the world sees Christians celebrating a gruesome death. Some might see it that way, but that’s not all there is to it.
On Easter Sunday morning, many people enter a church with expectation and hope. They want to come together to celebrate life with joyful singing. But what happened to provide that scene?
Just as in fiction where the hero has to overcome terrible conflict in order to save the world from destruction and have a happy ending, Christians are aware that their blessings came from horrors endured by someone other than themselves.
When we have conflict in our lives, we have to separate what we want from what we have to do. We can take our example from Jesus. Before he was on the cross, he had time alone with God in prayer and asked if he could somehow not go through with it. Then he acknowledged his true goal: to do the will of his father.
He saw beyond the cross.
Jesus knew what was ahead of him and how it would feel. There would be painful, skin-ripping torture. He would have nails driven into his skin. He also knew that pain would be temporary.
So he looked at the joy.
How does one find joy in an upcoming torture and crucifixion? The joy in Jesus was greater than the pain. The joy was not temporary, but eternal.
When he prayed about what he had to experience, he was battling through the temptations we all face as humans. He was not above temptation, but dealt with it daily. His flesh cried out in anticipation of the soon-coming pain. But Jesus knew his purpose.
He’s our Savior. He came to us to show us the great love of God. Without his sacrifice, we would all be dealing with our own sins. Instead, his sacrifice in our place paved the way for our return to God. Because of his persevering obedience, we can be gathered into the embrace of God for all eternity.
His pain paid for our freedom. And now, we can accept his invitation to live in his joy.
Jesus knew we would be together with him. He did whatever he had to do to make that happen.
He lived and died for the joy of eternity with us.
So anytime you think you’re not special to God, just look at a cross.