The Overcomer Trust

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“Out of the sorrows and silence of inward crucifixion, and from no other source, must grow the joys of everlasting bliss” 

T C Upham’s ‘Life of Madame Guyon’

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By Alan Greenbank

This is rather an unusual subject.  I cannot remember reading many articles on this, nor have I heard it mentioned in many sermons.  Reference is sometimes made to the fact that there is no record in Scripture of the Lord Jesus laughing, although there were occasions when He wept.  On the other hand, children happily gathered around  Him and sat on His knee, so He was obviously not a joyless and serious person.  What can we make of this?  Where can we find clues?  What do we know about the joy of Jesus?

Consider with me a verse in the Psalms that tells us the astounding fact that the Lord Jesus has a greater joy than any other person.  Psalm 45 is unique and was probably written at the time of a royal wedding, it clearly points forward to the coming Messiah and His bride.  There can be no dispute about the interpretation of this Psalm.  We know for certain that it is speaking of our Saviour because it is quoted in Hebrews 1 verses 8 to 9 to show His superiority over the angels.  Verse 7 of the Psalm says, “you love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions”.  Yes, the One who is described as a Man of sorrows and acquainted  with grief, experienced joy that was greater than that of any other person.

Link that thought with the well-known words, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him He endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12 v2).  Our Saviour suffered so deeply that on the Cross He offered one sacrifice for sins forever, being made sin for us, that “we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5 v21).  He was “obedient to death - even the death on a Cross” (Philippians 2 v8).  Yes, He endured the Cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before Him.  Let us seek to analyse that joy.  What did this joy contain?

The joy of finishing the work given to Him by the Father.

Before this world was ever made, there was an agreement between the Father and the Son that He would give His life as a ransom for many.  “The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13 v 8), is just one of several references that make this point clear.  He is the One who said, “here I am, I have come - it is written about Me in the Scroll.  I desire to do Your will, My God” (Psalm 40 v7-8).  

Early in His ministry, the Lord told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work”, (John 4 v34).  In His High Priestly prayer, His concern for that is revealed afresh, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17 v4).  His last words from the Cross were that triumphant shout, “it is finished” (John 19 v30).  His work was done and He had perfectly fulfilled all that the Father had sent Him to do.  This brought great joy to our Saviour when He accomplished the Father’s will.

The joy of returning to His heavenly home.

For thirty-three years He had been human.  “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1 v14).  What humility we see in this act.  As part of the eternal Godhead, Heaven had been His environment and He had been familiar with that sinless atmosphere.  However, He who rested in close relationship with the Father took a step of incredible humility by coming as a helpless baby to Bethlehem’s stable.  The sinless Son of God lived here among His fallen creatures, witnessing daily the effects of sin in the lives of the individuals with whom He had contact.  Worse still, He was hated by some He had created, He was bound, tried, mocked, despised, rejected, oppressed, beaten and crucified.  

However, after His resurrection, the day came when He said farewell to His amazed disciples and ascended through the clouds.  The great gates of heaven were opened to Him and the victorious King of Glory came in through the crowds of welcoming angels to take His place at the right hand of the Father.

The joy of securing salvation for His people.

It was not long after God created humankind in His own image that Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve and the first act of disobedience took place, with devastating consequences.  Sin had entered human hearts and all future generations were born with a nature of rebellion against God, who gave them life.  God had told Adam and Eve that disobedience would result in death and so it was, “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5 v12). 

Sin resulted in separation from God, for His “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Habakkuk 1 v13).  Even worse, we all deserved the everlasting punishment of a Holy God because of our rebellion.  The place prepared for the devil and all His angels, the place of eternal torment, the lake of fire that is hell would be the eternal destination of the whole of humanity unless God Himself provided some means of forgiveness and escape.

Praise God that a second Adam came to the rescue.  The Lord Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience, He was “tempted in every way, just as we are - yet He did not sin” (Hebrews 4 v15).  He then gave His life for us upon the Cross, bearing the punishment that we deserve.  In that way He made it possible for all who believe in Him to be ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven.  He loved us, gave Himself for us and redeemed a people for Himself.

We can never comprehend His love for us.  We see the corruption of our own hearts and sometimes think that we are unlovely and unloveable as far as a holy God is concerned.  However, He has loved us with an everlasting love.  The words of our Saviour in John 17 are very moving, for they show the depth of His love for us.  “Father, I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world” (v24).  Consider for a moment that apparently the joy of the Son of God would be incomplete if you and I were not going to join Him in heaven to see His glory.  Think about this and then keep worshipping.

There are probably many more points that occur to you when thinking about the joy of Jesus, but we have looked a little at the subject.  At the moment we see through a glass darkly and we only know in part.  Thank God, the day is coming soon when we shall know fully even as we are fully known (1 Corinthians 13 v12).

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“Amid your tears keep a trusting, restful, joyful heart in Him.  Rejoice in the Lord, in the presence of the Lord, for He is always there.  The secret of continual joy is in realising the friendship of the Redeemer” F B Meyer