“. . . looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was 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).

JESUS IS THE PREEMINENT EXAMPLE OF FAITH. In the history of the world, no one has shown as much confidence in the Father as He did. In Hebrews 11, for example, many people are listed who demonstrated great faith, but Jesus is before them all and after them all; the steadfastness of His trust in God simply has no equal. And so when dealing with difficulty in our own lives, Jesus is our perfect exemplar (“one that is worthy of imitation, a model”).

There were a number of shameful things Jesus had to endure in His life, the worst of which was, of course, the cross. If we are to identify with Him as His people, we are going to have to share in His shame and His cross before we share in His glory. In speaking of what he had sacrificed for Christ, Paul said that he had given those things up not only to know “the power of His resurrection” but also “the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). And to the Colossians he wrote, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24).

But our text says that Jesus endured the cross. That means He put up with it! And so it must be with us. We may try to minimize the amount of trouble that comes to us in the world, but before our lives are over, there will have been things that simply had to be endured. “There is no detour to holiness,” Leighton Ford said. “Jesus came to the resurrection through the cross, not around it.”

But if Jesus is our example, we must emulate the reason for His endurance as well as the fact of the endurance itself. And why did He endure? It was “for the joy that was set before Him.” The pure, priceless joy on the other side pulled Jesus through this world.

And now, having endured the cross, Jesus “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” By not giving up, He conquered the enemy — and so can we. “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11,12). A crown awaits those who keep going.

“Not in the achievement, but in the endurance of the human soul does it show its divine grandeur and its alliance with the infinite God” (Edwin Hubbell Chapin).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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