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We have heard many sermons on the sufferings of Christ on the cross. Words do not have the capacity to communicate the suffering Christ experienced as he died for our sins.
The loneliness of the cross was terrible. Jesus was forsaken by his friends. In the midst of his agony, he felt forsaken by God and cried out, “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?”
The shame of the cross is frequently forgotten by modern-day Christians. Crucifixion was the ultimate in insult and public contempt for a criminal. It is impossible for us even to begin to understand the horror of the cross to the sinless soul of the innocent divine Son of God.
The writer of the book of Hebrews injects into our thinking an idea that appears to be contradictory. He makes much of the fact that a part of our Lord’s motive for enduring the agony of the cross was for “the joy that was set before him”. Is it possible that one could endure such agony, such loneliness, such shame, such horror, and yet experience joy in doing so? The writer of Hebrews says yes. There were at least three joys that led Jesus Christ to the cross.
I. The Joy of Glorifying God
A. In his great prayer, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:1).
i. To glorify means to “make known.”
ii. Jesus came to the earth to make known the nature, character, and purpose of God.
iii. In this petition he prays that God might reveal the nature and the divine purpose of Jesus of Nazareth who was to be manifested as the Son of God in the miracle of resurrection.
iv. And Jesus, by this petition, is affirming his purpose to make known the nature and character of god by his death on the cross.
B. What is God like?
i. He is the eternal creator.
ii. He is the almighty Sovereign.
iii. He is the majestic and holy God.
iv. He is the God who is both righteousness and just.
C. The Supreme revelation of the love, mercy, and grace of God is to be revealed in the display of his immeasurable love by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
i. Jesus was eager to reveal once and for all that love and grace are at the very heart of God.
ii. He was seeking to repudiate in a manner that could not be disputed that God was totally different from that which he had been reported to be by the serpent in the garden and through all succeeding generations.
D. The Devil has misrepresented the nature and character of God from the beginning of time.
i. People look upon God with resentment and try to evade and run form him because the Evil One has slandered his character with malicious falsehoods.
ii. By his death on the cross, Jesus refuses all of these and glorifies God, makes him known, and introduces him as the God of love and mercy and grace.
II. The Joy of the highest possible personal achievement.
A. Could Jesus have escaped the cross?
B. Perhaps this questions is idle speculation, but it is evident that Satan thought that he could avoid the cross.
C. Satan offered him the kingdom of this world if he would but fall down and worship him.
D. The heart of this temptation was a suggested escape from the cross and a convenient, inexpensive way to win the kingdoms of this world for God.
E. Jesus rejected this suggestion and endured the cross because there was no other way to save people.
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