Focused on Joy

When another driver does something stupid or dangerous my expressions, though mild, come quickly. Injustice or abuse produces a stronger reaction in most of us. So, have you ever wondered why Jesus said so little at His trials?

Faced with false accusers at the high priest’s house Jesus kept silent.1 His answers to Pilate were short and simple.2 Herod heard a disappointing silence.3 Through all the scourging, mockery, and crucifixion Jesus had little to say. Could it be that He had something else on His mind? The writer of Hebrews explains it:

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy 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)

This verse follows a long section about faith heroes. Jesus is held up as the author and perfecter (or beginner and completer) of faith. He is our prime example; we are urged to copy His faith. Knowing how Jesus exercised faith is essential. And it is important to recognize that faith is not theoretical; it does not stop at what we know or have experienced. Faith seems always linked to some kind of test or choice: Will we align with what God says even though it costs us something? Jesus faced the ultimate test with the highest price—shameful, unjust, agonizing death.

Most of us would immediately fight back or try to dodge. Justified punishment is one thing, but undeserved accusations must surely be countered by a defensive explanation. What is the point of suffering unnecessarily? But Jesus endured it.

We’re also told that He despised4 the shame of it. The Greek word can also mean “think little of”. Some sort of cost-benefit analysis was going on in Jesus’ mind. He was weighing the joy set before Him against the price of the shame and pain. Compared to the joy, the cross was nothing to fight against. Compared to the joy, His human life and dignity were not worth preserving.

Jesus could be relatively silent like a sheep led to slaughter because self-defense would have distracted Him from focusing on that joy. It is easy for us to rail against injustice, curse our enemies, groan and complain at pain, argue with God to end a travesty or to restore lost peace and happiness. But silence is submission. Silence allows us to focus on the One who can be trusted with our unseen and seemingly impossible future.

So what joy did Jesus see ahead? We probably will not know clearly until we follow Him over that same horizon of obedience to the Father’s will regardless of the cost to us. But we do know that Jesus now sits with God. The presence of heavenly Father is most precious. It’s promised to us too. God dwells with those who love Him and keep His word (John 14:23). I am sure that Jesus also glimpsed resurrection life for Himself and those who follow Him. It’s life in a whole new dimension; life unlimited by time or worldly concerns; life as part of the King’s family, empowered to do His will.

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  1. Matthew 26:57-63. []
  2. Matthew 27:11-14; John 19:9-12. []
  3. Luke 23:9. []
  4. Kataphronesas. []

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