We often look back along our own little thorn-set pathway and say, “If I had known it all beforehand, I could not have walked this road, but God mercifully hid it from me. He led me step by step, gave me hourly grace, held fast my hand all the way, and so I have come.”
But Jesus, as His feet drew near Calvary, knew beforehand its unspeakable terrors. He knew that He would go out from that quiet garden to hours of hatred and scorning, which should only end on the awful cross. He knew each pang for His body, each crushing reproach for His heart, the weight of human depravity to be poured out upon His innocent soul, knew the utter loneliness, the sting of desertion, the failure of human love, and yet He went forth. “Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth” (John 18:4 KJV).
The writer of Hebrews entreats: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross… Consider Him” (12:2-3). But what joy could be seen across the immense stretch of horror and desolation between Him and the far side of the cross? The joy of having His human will entirely lost in the Divine will. The joy of the salvation for others. These lasting joys He saw by faith, still working out salvation for God’s Church, still bearing great fruit of joy in two worlds.
This is the joy of which Jesus spoke to His disciples, “These thing have I spoken unto you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full”
(John 15:11 KJV). Full-brimming, satisfying, heaven-like joy—the very joy of God! He bring us to and keeps us in His presence, where, as David tells us, “is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11 NRS).
Perhaps you know already where your hill of Calvary rises, and you see the somber cross awaiting you. But you lack power to go forth—your flesh and your heart fail you. Then “consider Him,” until you can believe His love, trust His providence. You have long dwelt on your own sorrows—the hardness of your lot. Now, “Consider Jesus.”
You do not know what is before you. God does. God calls you to His presence, to union with Him, to radiant light, to a joy that can endure the cross.
Jesus went forth for you, went forth to bear all that flesh cannot endure, to take once for all, every bitter drop from the cup of life, and leave there only the living water.
Elizabeth Swift Brengle, Half Hours with My Guide