They had seen it all before, this bloodthirsty crowd. The sweating, panting bodies. The blood-soaked clothing. The bruising and lacerations of whip marks crisscrossing the prisoners. It was, sadly, another day under occupied Rome.
But this one was different. This One. He, too, was blood, sweat and spit soaked, panting in the Palestinian heat. Bruised and cut open by the Roman scourge; soldiers proud of their “handiwork.”
But he, He was different. A crown of sharp, dry thorns pierced deeply into the sensitive skin of His forehead, forming a mocking crown for a “king.”
A King they said? “He said He was King of the Jews,” didn’t He?
This crowd offered no solace. No comfort. No simple drink to sooth His parched lips. No assistance to lift His heavy burden, though it had been said He lifted the burdens of others.
They watched as He passed by… this macabre trio of condemned and pitiful humanity… yet hearing not words of comfort but mocking and cursing. For what? They didn’t know. They simply added their voices to the mob.
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” No mercy. No quarter. No stopping.
The Son of God was on the road to the cross. God’s redemption plan was underway.
And yet, the Bible said, “For the joy set before Him….” JOY? This was JOYFUL? No, that’s not what it said. It said “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame.”
So the cross… something to be endured. Something that caused shame. Something that brought pain. Death to the flesh. But still… joy? Where is joy to be found on the road to the cross… in His crucifixion or in ours?
The joy that Jesus endured the cross for may have come in part from the prospect of redeeming some of the screaming mob of humanity cursing Him as He passed by… and then there’s me and you also in that number.
But the greater joy, I believe, came in the knowledge that in bearing His cross… in enduring the shame… He was walking in the middle of His Father’s will. In fact, never more so than in that moment.
It is that which brought Him joy. It is that which brought God glory. And knowing our Father’s will… even when it leads to a cross… is where our greatest joy awaits as well.
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 ESV