Good Friday 2017

Jesus died to gain His joy and ours

I don’t know about you but during Easter I think about Christmas, and during Christmas I think about Easter. In my mind Christmas and Easter go together. They remind me of each other, so, if it’s okay with you, tonight, on this Good Friday, I’d like to tell you a Christmas story.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)

The news the angels brought that night, the news of the birth of a Savior, was news of great joy for all people. According to the angels (and they had it on good authority) joy was one of the purposes of the life and work of Jesus, even as it came time for Him to die for His people.

Hebrews 12:2 says, “for the joy that was set before him (he) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

On the cross, the Lord Jesus, wounded, weighed down with grief and shame, and crowned only with thorns, also experienced the wrath of God while He bore the sins of His people. And He determined to suffer this, knowing that this was the way through to the joy that was on the other side.

He tells His disciples in John’s gospel:

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:20-22, NLT)

Of that joy that no one will ever take from you, the psalmist says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

The consummation of this joy, God Himself will dwell with His people! The Apostle John tells us in Revelation:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:2-5)

Jesus suffered the pain and the anguish of bearing our sin to that cruel cross. There sorrow and love flowed mingled down. He endured all that because of the joy set before Him. We too will have our share of sorrow and pain if we follow after Him. But let us not grow weary in well-doing, for there is, as the angel said, great joy in store for all the people, if we persevere. Our God, at whose right hand are joys for evermore, is making all things new!