Hebrews 12:1-3

            “Capital punishment” is simply a softened way to say “state-sponsored killing.”  It is a bit like always using the word “discomfort” instead of “pain.”  Pain is still pain, and some pain just hurts like hell.  Jesus knows all of this first-hand.  He experienced capital punishment – not only state-sponsored killing but state-sponsored torture, humiliation, and intentional shaming.  What Jesus faced was no humane lethal injection; it was full of prolonged agony, blood, nakedness, and public humiliation.  It was awful.  It was the ultimate act of shame.  The cross was terribly painful in every sense of the word; it was filled with physical pain, emotional hurt, mental anguish, and even the spiritual weight of separation from the Father, and the worst pain of all:  carrying the sins of the entire world, past, present, and future.
 
            This is a staggering thought, that Jesus would endure such incredible torture.  So, it is even more astounding that the author of Hebrews would describe this event from Christ’s perspective as “the joy set before him.”  Huh!?  Such sorrow, such agony described from the vantage of Jesus as joy.  Our Lord was no masochist.  He willingly persevered under such strain and pain, endured the worst that hell could throw at him, and faced the ignominy of the cross all because of love.
 
            Jesus Christ loved us so much that he went through the horror of it all with confidence knowing that his sacrifice would mean the redemption of humanity.  With each lash of the whip, with every curse uttered against him, and with all the cruel force of sinful people Jesus had a settled conviction that he would endure so that we could be saved from sin’s power.  Now that is love!
 
            Thus, whenever we despair over some slight of another, become down because of a little opposition, or wonder if we can make it another day under the stress, we must put our lives in perspective.  We are saved, redeemed, forgiven, and loved infinitely by the God who gave himself for us.  Consider him who endured such hostility so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
 

 

            Loving Lord Jesus, you suffered in a way that I can barely comprehend.  And you do it all for me.  Oh, Lord, forgive me for all those times of being ungrateful and discouraged over my circumstances.  Lead me to the cross, and let me bow in worship before you.  Amen.

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