The Joy That Lay Before Him: A Lesson on Joy from Jesus  

by Tiffany Dickerson

Who did you want to be like when you were little? Was it your mom, a firefighter, a teacher, or maybe your favorite cartoon character or superhero? Whoever it was, you likely imitated them in how they dressed, their mannerisms, and their habits. It makes me think of little girls who wear the same princess dress for a month or little boys who sleep in that uniform that matches their favorite sports star. Even as adults, we look up to someone. We all have those people we respect, admire, and desire to emulate. But what if we put aside our devotion to earthly heroes and focused more on being like Jesus? 

As people who live two thousand years after Jesus’s earthly ministry, we often relegate Him to the spiritual realm and forget He physically walked on earth for 33 years. Deep down, we know we are called to be like Christ, and this is evident as we read about His earthly ministry in the gospels. But, do we place Him on the pedestal He deserves? Is He the person we want to be like the most? Jesus modeled so many attributes during His ministry. In fact, He modeled them all perfectly. The Bible teaches us how He lived and provides us with practical ways we can be just like Him. Today, let’s take a lesson in joy from our Savior. 

Joy. It seems like such a simple word, but in reality, it is defined in many different ways. The earthly definition of joy would have us believe that joy is found in material possessions, exotic trips, or being married to the perfect spouse, to name a few. Earthly joy is contingent upon outside circumstances. But the joy that Jesus exhibited with His life was a very different kind of joy. This joy was spiritual and supernatural and teaches believers that true joy is contingent on inner peace found in Christ alone.           

We read in Hebrews 12:1–2, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Why did Jesus endure the cross and its shame? Because of the joy that lay before Him. Even in the face of the greatest pain, Jesus could see beyond His present suffering and know that, in God’s providence, it was accomplishing something. In the midst of His pain, He looked toward the joy that would come. 

For Jesus, we can see how obedience, humility, and sacrifice led to joy. Because of Christ, we find joy in these as well. There is joy for us when we are obedient, humble, and live sacrificially for the Lord. And there is abundant joy for us when the salvation of our souls brings forgiveness and the defeat of shame. Our greatest joy awaits us when, one day, we sit in the presence of God Almighty because Jesus endured the cross and its shame and said, “Yes” to the wrath we deserved. He took on our punishment because of the joy it would bring. Through His example, we can see that joy is not about the false satisfaction earthly possessions bring us. Joy is Jesus!   

When trials come, and we are promised they will, joy is not fake happiness. Joy is trusting Jesus as your heart breaks and the tears stream down your face, knowing that a better day awaits because He promised it. When good things happen in our lives, joy is not fleeting happiness but a lasting satisfaction in knowing that God loves to give His children good things that are in His will. Our culture will attempt to define joy for us, and we can either fall into the trap or fight for true joy. We fight for joy by knowing the Author of joy. We fight for it with the Word. When joy seems hard or far away, remember where joy is found and root your heart in the truths of Scripture. The seven statements below are truths about biblical, lasting joy and the Scripture references where they are found. Use these verses to fight for true joy and to be like the greatest man to ever walk the earthly and heavenly realms. There is no One more worthy to sit on the throne of our lives than Jesus.  

Joy comes from the salvation of our souls. 1 Peter 1:8–9

Joy is found in the forgiveness of sin. – Psalm 32:1–2

Joy is found in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22

Joy is found in “partnership in the gospel” with fellow believers. – Philippians 1:4–5

Joy is found in the presence of the Lord. – Psalm 16:11

Joy comes when we share in Christ’s sufferings and see His glory. – 1 Peter 4:12–14

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