A few years ago I was able to spend the week before Easter reading Scripture and praying in a more focused way than usual. It was 2011, my personal annus mirabilis, the year when I finally accepted the idea that God accepted me. Every day for months, I heard new truth and wrote it down. From Fortress to Freedom is the compilation of the first forty of those writings, and the fortieth came just before Holy Week. I kept writing daily, and on the night of Maundy Thursday that year I was awake most of the night, praying, meditating, and writing. Here are some of the words from that night.
The Joy Set Before Him
As I read through the Matthew account I ‘happened’ to notice a cross-reference, from 26:60, to Psalm 37:12. I read that verse, then read the whole psalm for context.
It struck me first that David was claiming victory for himself over his oppressors, a victory that Christ could not claim. David expected to be delivered from the adversity directed at him, and to see his tormentors punished. Christ had no such expectation.
However, as I continued to dwell in this psalm, I realized that Christ did have that same expectation. His is the long view, the view that we must strive to attain and keep. This is the joy set before Him, that enabled him to endure the cross and all that led to it, to scorn the shame of it all as a temporary nuisance to be ignored. His face was set as a flint, yes, but his heart was full of joy. Determination, with certainty of guaranteed absolute unequivocal victory and reward.
Again, we are called to that same position, and given those same promises. May we rise to the occasion, now and evermore, to His glory.
I wonder if, during the night and day that seem so horrible and tortuous to us as humans, Jesus the man might actually have been smiling to Himself. I don’t want to dismiss the enormity of the trial, but to emphasize the power of His faith. We are told He did it for the joy set before Him, not just for love or obedience. So I wonder how that felt, in the midst of such a trial–knowing all that was coming His way, and knowing that it didn’t matter, because He was going to emerge victorious.
Just a thought.