The Joy of the Cross

“The just shall live by faith.”  (Hab.2:4;  Rom.1:17;  Gal.3:11;  Heb.10:38)

 

On that dark day of seeming victory for the evil one, there was JOY hidden in the Cross, couched in that grotesque scene, invisible to the natural man and his senses but blatantly apparent to the eyes of faith. Click To Tweet

 

Think for a minute of what it was like for the witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion to gaze, or even glance, at His cross when He was on it, suffering as He did.  Can we imagine any of them being filled with joy, or hope, or expectation that “the best was yet to come”?  It was probably rather that their hearts were despondent, their spirits crushed,  and their hopes that He indeed was their long-awaited Messiah shattered.  But for us!  Us, who are living some 2,000 years after this pivotal, piercing, poignant moment in the history of the Universe;  us, who are justified by faith in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of this God-Man Who so humbly, courageously, clearly manifested the Love of God to the world by hanging on that Tree for us all.  None of our senses were exposed to that unforgettable day in the history of the world, but BY FAITH we see it, taste of it, believe it, and yes, have JOY because of it, even when we are suffering with Him (Phil.1:29; 3:10).   And He, of course, is our example:   the One Who, “for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him, endured the Cross…” (Heb.12:2).  On that dark day of  seeming victory for the evil one, there was JOY hidden in the Cross, couched in that grotesque scene, invisible to the natural man and his senses but blatantly apparent to the eyes of faith.

 

“I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.”  (Psalm 43:4)

 

When we allow the Lord to bring our lives experientially all the way through the Cross, with all that is natural and negative in us buried, we sense a “joy unspeakable and full of Glory” that can be found by no other way.  Indeed, He Himself becomes our JOY and we sing with the songwriter of old “He is All I Need”.  We experience the joy of absolute and eternal forgiveness;  of having our expectation be from God alone, who never lets us down (Heb.13:5);  of walking in the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:16) and in Love (Eph.5:2);  of building up the brethren as lively stones (I Peter 2:5);  of praying in secret and watching the Lord manifest His response openly (Matt.6:4);  and of edifying others with our speech (Eph.4:29).  The Lord puts His words in our mouths (Jer.1:9), which become “the joy and rejoicing our hearts” (Jer.15:16), and we have joy in being able to give “an apt answer, … a word spoken at the right moment …” (Prov.15:23).

 

From the  temporal weakness of death into the eternal joy of Resurrection!

 

The joy which sustained the Lord on the Cross is the same quality of joy which now is our strength (Neh.8:10). Click To Tweet

 

The joy which sustained the Lord on the Cross is the same quality of joy which now is our strength (Neh.8:10).  It is eternal and it is full:  “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”, and “no man can take  this joy from you.” (John 16:22)  It is of the Holy Spirit, from the Holy Spirit, through the Holy Spirit, and in the Holy Spirit:  “The Kingdom of God is not in meat and drink … but in righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.”  (Rom.14:17)

 

“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matt.16:19)

 

 

It is only through living by faith in the promises of God, believing Him and taking Him at His Word, that we can unlock the immeasurable joy that is rightfully ours in Him. Click To TweetThe Lord has given us the keys to His Kingdom.  “Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom of God.”  (Luke 12:32)   But where do we find the keys, and how do we use them?  We receive them at the Cross at the point of salvation, and we are able to use them as we reckon ourselves dead with Him there and alive unto Him, seated together with Him, in Heavenly places.  “The One Who has the key of David … Who opens and no one can shut, Who shuts and no one can open” (Rev.3:7), He it is Who lives in us and has freely given us all that is His (Rom.8:32).  In fact, “the Kingdom of God is within [us]…” (Luke 17:21b).  But it is only through living by faith in these and all other promises of God, believing Him and taking Him at His Word, that we can unlock the immeasurable joy that is rightfully ours in Him.  Thus, as the Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Rome, thus we can pray for each other:  “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” (Rom.15:13)!

 

” Let us … confidently … draw near to the Throne of Grace … , that we may receive … and find … ” (Heb.4:16)

 

The Lord commanded His disciples ” … now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.” (John 16:24b)  If He said this to the disciples who were with Him before the Cross, how much more does it hold fast for us who, after the Cross, are not only with Him but in Him?! Us, who not only have faith in Who is He and in what He did at the Cross but who also have in us the very same faith that He had on earth and forever has had toward the Father! (Gal.2:20)

Yet there is not a hint of self-effort or of natural strength that activates this Faith;  we receive Grace to walk by faith, and Grace we have in superabundance (Rom.5:17).  This gift of Grace, this privilege of Faith, is how we can love Him without ever having seen Him;  why we believe in Him and “exult and thrill with inexpressible and … (triumphant, heavenly) joy.”  (I Peter 1:8) … the same joy which was set before Him as He endured unimaginable suffering as and for us on His Cross.

We can therefore pray as David did in Psalm 5:11,  with absolute confidence that this is God’s Will (I John 5:14,15) and our privilege, all because what Jesus Christ did on the Cross opened up Heaven to us and gave us unlimited “access by faith into this Grace wherein we firmly and safely stand” (Rom.5:2):

“Let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice;  let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them;  let those also who love Your Name be joyful in you and be in high spirits.”   AMEN.

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