Over the past several weeks, we have been studying in detail the first few verses of Hebrews chapter 12. Last week we got into verse 2, and discussed looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher (Alpha and Omega) of our faith. This week we will continue delving into this second verse, and let it minister even more life and wisdom to us. Let's get into God's Word.
Heb. 12:2 says, “....for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross – despising the shame...”. Say, “Endure”. Jesus endured. He tolerated. He put up with. He long suffered. He patiently bore. He persevered. Do you endure? Are you in for the long haul? Do you quit as soon as things get tough? Do you leave at the slightest criticism, or do you, like a wise man, receive correction and become yet wiser? Do you pray for a day or a week or a month or a year and then quit? Or do you pray and trust God until you get the answer? Do you shout and holler when the sermon is on God's blessing, but then look for the exit when it's on suffering? Were your wedding vows, “Until offense or inconvenience, do we part”, or were they, “Until death do we part”? Jesus endured, and as He is our example to follow, so should we.
In many ways, we have become a nation of quitters and covenant breakers. Many people don't want to work, they don't want any inconvenience, any challenges, any effort, any sacrifice. They have become proud, self centered, self absorbed, overgrown spoiled brats that want someone else to do everything for them. Then they wonder why they are depressed. You don't need to throw more pills in your head. You need to remove yourself from being the center of the universe (in your own mind), and start thinking about what you can do for someone else. Are you dead to yourself and alive unto God? Don't answer to quickly.
The Apostle Paul did not count his life dear (Act 20:24). He was “dead to self”. This simply means, that Jesus was the center of his universe – and he was not. You can tell a dead man bad news all day long, and he will not get depressed. Tell him how horrible everything is. Tell him about the heat and the stock market and lack of rain and our bankrupt government (morally and financially). He doesn't care a bit. He's dead. Are you dead to yourself, and alive unto God?
Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Yes, the cross was absolutely horrible – but Jesus focused on the joy set before Him. What was that joy? You and I. He was fulfilling the Father's will. He was reconciling mankind to God. This was His mission and His joy. Think of how special you are to God (1Jn 3:1). Jesus could suffer on that cross, because He was focused on the many sons and daughters He would bring to glory (Heb 2:10). He was going to make those who were not God's people, the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 9:25-26, Gal 3:26). He was making it possible for us to come out from among the world, and be separate – sons and daughters of God (2Cor 6:17-18). Thank God for Jesus and His commitment to us, even when the going got real tough. Thank God He was focused more on us, than on Himself.
How was Jesus able to see past the pain, and into the joy? Because He despised the shame. The word despised here in verse 2 means to disesteem, to think little or nothing of. He disesteemed the shame. He thought little of it. He lowered it in His mind, and He exalted the joy set before Him. If Jesus disesteemed the cross, then what should you do with what your suffering? Jesus exalted God. He exalted His God given mission. He didn't exalt suffering on the cross. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to stop highly esteeming our problems, and start disesteeming them. We need to magnify God's Word, instead (Ps 138:2). This is what Scripture teaches us (Heb 11:24-26). This is what Paul did (2Cor 4:14-18, Rom 8:18, 36-37, Acts 20:22-24).
We all have challenges and problems to some degree. The difference is in how we handle those things. Some people fall apart over problems that would make other people laugh. Some people have so many problems, they would give anything to have yours! Yet, often you would never know it. Why? Because they don't exalt them. They don't talk about them. They talk about God. They speak His Word. They disesteem their problems. Are you one of these people? Or do you shout every little problem you have from the roof tops? Do magnify mole hills, and make mountains out of them? Do you exaggerate your trials to get attention? Or, do you quietly persevere in your faith, and exalt God in your life? We want to emulate Jesus. Jesus disesteemed shame, and exalted the joy. He focused on completing His mission – not on what He was going through. We must learn this from our Master. We must put these disciplines of Christ into action in our life. Jesus taught us how to handle tribulation in our life. Let's learn and obey, and live the overcoming life! Until next time, rejoice in the Lord!