Most of us are very familiar with John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . . We’ve always been taught (rightfully so) that this refers to God loving every human being, even the ones who will never believe and receive what He did for us all. But another verse made me consider this love in an additional way.
Hebrews 12:2 NIV Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
As I read these words more carefully than normal, I pondered in a different way the joy that was set before Jesus. Jesus had great joy in doing His Father’s will1, regardless of the personal cost to Him. In the case of the Hebrews verse, was it because He so loved us? Certainly He did. In addition, however, I believe that Jesus so loved His Father – our Father – and wanted to complete His joy. Knowing how much His Father loves us all, and His joy in our unbroken fellowship with Him, Jesus willingly endured the cross to complete His Father’s joy.
Yes, we were definitely an integral part of the joy set before Jesus. But I believe the other component was the much greater. The Father’s joy at our reconciliation and restoration to Him was the joy Jesus could see. His Father’s joy. Jesus so loved His Father! His Father so loved us . . .
1 Remember the story of the woman at the well. When the disciples came back with much-needed food, Jesus was no longer hungry . . . because He was full from doing the Father’s will.