Jesus didn’t carry the cross to gain our love, but because He loved the Father.
Jesus knew the cross was obedience in the Father’s love and would express His own unquenchable love for all of us. For you.
But the cross didn’t bring joy — Jesus did it for Joy. Joy that only could be the praise and open approval of God the Father.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. 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. (Hebrews 12:2)
The power of that love was so pure it caused the resurrection of True Love. What God had planned for us to experience all along. From the Genesis garden to the Garden of Gethsemane, the world ached for this kind of love and joy to return. The relationship could finally be restored and Jesus would then have Joy.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
What if we carried our cross like we are asked to? That very thing we are avoiding because we don’t enjoy it, feel like it’s beneath us, or figure we aren’t cut out for it. . . is the very thing necessary to restore a relationship with Love and have Joy.
Our friends will notice when we die for them. Our spouse will feel loved when we finally do that one thing he really would really appreciate, all the while not complaining. Do everything without complaining.
I am able to love — doing taxes when numbers aren’t my jam, scrubbing toilets when there are more holy items on my to-do list, cuddling a child when I need alone time, preparing a meal when I’m tired. But God, please let me not carry my cross to get love. But because I love the person it matters to, I carry my cross in all the everyday ways, the private ways and the mundane ways and become the love. And then Love pours out of me.
I carry my cross and die a little more to myself.
I carry my cross and complain less.
I carry my cross and grow closer to the Father because that’s the only path to Him.
I carry my cross and see the Joy set before me.
I carry my cross and can forgive those who hate me.
The Joy set before Jesus was us. The full measure of Jesus’ joy is His desire for those who belong to Him.
Knowing that we were Jesus’ ultimate glory reward, and experiencing all the overwhelming feelings associated with being that loved, reminds us how those we love will feel a small portion of that joy when we carry our cross every day in obedience and focus our gaze on God the Father.
Jesus’ joy teaches us to look beyond present discomfort to lasting triumph. It is the joy of God’s presence.
For the Joy that is set before us. Will you pick up your cross and follow Jesus?