Throughout our Easter series, our Thursday blog posts will focus on two seemingly discordant themes: suffering and joy. We’ll look to the examples of Jesus and the early church as well as exhortations from the authors of the New Testament epistles to see how the juxtaposition of these qualities characterize those who follow Jesus.

“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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2b-3)

Leading up to the celebration of the resurrection, we’re taking the time to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured on the cross. While it was only necessary for Jesus to die in some way before he was resurrected, death by crucifixion—and all of the suffering that came along with it—was the manner he endured.

We’re not provided with much introspective reflection from Jesus about his impending fate in the gospel accounts except for a moment in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). How was Jesus feeling in that moment? We can’t be sure, but his prayer reveals the internal dilemma he faced. He knew the road ahead was paved with pain and surrounded by shame. “Is this the only way?” he asked and he acquiesced to his Father’s affirmative answer.

Jesus’ willingness to submit himself to suffering reflected his eagerness to accomplish its goal. He did not come to the cross begrudgingly, like a child who half-heartedly obeys. He was not bothered by humanity’s need for him nor did he grumble about what it cost him. It was his joy—not his reluctant duty—to endure the cross knowing it would reconcile the world to God. Jesus’ whole life—not only the cross—was driven by his mission to seek and save the lost and the recovery of the lost was his joy (Luke 15).

Take a moment to reflect

Does it change how you view Jesus’ sacrifice if you believe it was his joy to serve you?

How can his example encourage you to endure trials and serve others, even your enemies, with joy?