July 23, 2012
He Endured the Cross
“Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
The Spirit of God has just urged believers to run with endurance the race that has been set before them. The Christian life is here being likened to a race with the demands it makes on discipline and endurance. To encourage them, He reminds them of the One Who endured His “race,” a race which meant Calvary and shame.
We are told that He “endured the cross, despising the shame.” In chapter 11, the Spirit has reminded these Hebrews of what others “endured” out of faithfulness, and by faith, in God. The sufferings, afflictions, torture, and deprivation they sustained so ennoble them, that He adds, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb 11:35b-38).
They endured great affliction. But all pales before what He endured. He endured the cross. Never was there One so undeserving of the treatment He received from men. Never was there such a One of Whom it could be said, “Of Whom the world was not worthy.” Yet at the very moment the world was impaling on a tree, One of Whom it was not even worthy to have, He was dying for that very same world.
He “despised the shame.” The word “despised” could be from several different words in the original. In this instance, the words mean, not to hate or dislike, but to think something a very minor thing. All of this suffering, all of this shame, all of the wicked treatment by wicked men against the spotless Son of God – He thought it a small thing. How are we to understand it? It was greater in character than all that the heroes of faith in chapter 11 endured. It was so great that Isaiah likened it to a lamb led to a slaughter.
The little phrase, “For the joy set before Him” explains why He “despised” or thought little of the shame. So great was the joy of accomplishing the Father’s will, so immense was the satisfaction of providing redemption for you and me, so great the prospect of glorifying His Father, that all else seemed minor or insignificant. Willing, for the joy held out to Him, He endured all that the cross meant for Him.
1. Can you think of other reasons the Lord Jesus would have anticipated joy at Calvary?
2. Look at verse 3 and think about what it means: “He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.”