His Joy in Us for the Race Before Us

For the past couple of weeks, I have been meditating on a familiar passage of Scripture as I have been preaching on gospel-driven endurance from Hebrews 12:1-3.  Sometimes the more familiar passage, the more we miss because of our assumption that we know all that the Spirit is teaching us on that particular verse.  At least that’s been a lesson I’ve learned in my study.

In Hebrews 12:1-3, there are two things that have been “set.”  There is a race “set before us” and there is the joy “set before Him (Jesus)”.  The way in which we are to run is by looking to Jesus–that is looking by faith in Him in all that He is for us as seen in the gospel.  After having explained the grand scope of salvation accomplished by all three persons in the Godhead, Paul prays that the Ephesian believers would have “the eyes of their hearts opened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:18).

We do not see Jesus with the human eyes, but God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).  Therefore we see Jesus by faith through hearts that have been enlightened (cf. Eph. 1:18).  Believing is beholding, and through believing in Jesus, we “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).  This is no ordinary kind of joy.  It is glory-laced joy–the kind of joy that was set before Jesus that motivated Him to finish His race to die for sinners, endure the Father’s wrath, and drink the bitter cup that was reserved for us.

The joy of Jesus was the pleasures of His Father and bringing Him glory, revealing His character and accomplishing His mission of bringing redemption and salvation to everyone who puts their trust in Him.  We are the fruit of His mission, and it was the joy of Jesus that caused this seed to go into the ground and die (John 12:24).  One of the stunning reflections came when I saw the connection between our fruitfulness and His joy.  In the same way that by looking to Jesus we are able to run with endurance, it is by abiding in Jesus that we are able to bear much fruit, for “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Jesus explains this to us because (1) the Father is glorified in our fruit-bearing through faithful abiding, and (2) He intends that His joy may be in us, and our joy may be made full (John 15:11).  This is remarkable.  The joy that Jesus had in Him–the joy which was continually set before Him–is the joy that He would set in our hearts!  And this is not a joy that would be initially deposited in small measure, but Jesus gives it to us in full measure!

So when you run the race God has set before you, He not only wants you to obtain the prize (1 Cor. 9:24), but He also wants you to feel His pleasure as you look to Jesus.  As you believe in Him, the pace of our running should be propelled by the glory-laced joy in hearts, though inexpressible, is manifest in the way we pursue the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).  It is my prayer that as the eyes of faith behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that glory will be shown as we endure with joy and bear abundant fruit in the satisfaction of Him who has given it in fullest measure.

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One Comment on “His Joy in Us for the Race Before Us”

  1. This is excellent. I am going to link to this in a post of mine tomorrow afternoon. I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

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