Volume 10, Issue 2: Stauron
The Joy of the Cross
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).
The greatest conceivable reason to rejoice is found in the cross of Christ. The cross is all our joy, all our hope, all our peace, for through the cross God mediates all His blessings to His children. Apart from the cross, the descendants of Adam are but children of wrath, twice condemned, without God and without hope in the world. Take away the cross and we all stand before God in our own miserable merit, holding forth foul rags of self-righteousness. For what reason would God bless that which He would forever curse? But because of the cross we now stand before Him dressed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, a righteousness wrought by a perfect life and secured for us by a perfect sacrifice. When the Lord looks at us, He sees His Son, whom He has already exalted to the highest station. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:31_32).
Your sins are forgiven: rejoice! All of your shameful deeds have been taken away, separated from you as far as the east is from the west. Confess and renounce them, and ask God to give you the joy you had when you first became His. When David sinned with Bathsheba his joy was gone, and the heavy hand of God was on him. The filth of his murderous lust clung to him, and he could do nothing to clean it off. But when he was confronted with his sin, he had no more reason to hide, and he turned to God in humble confession and repentance. And in his confession, what did he ask of God? "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit" (Ps. 51:8, 12). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of joy, whom the Father will give to those who ask. Rest in Christ and in the joy of His saving grace.
When you rest on the Lord's Day, rejoice! God has graciously granted you the day to lay aside the labor of the week. Enjoy the fellowship of family and friends. Relax in your favorite chair with your favorite book. Savor a Sabbath feast; the Sabbaths of the old covenant were days of feasting (Lev. 23:2-4). They foreshadowed that true rest which Christ purchased for us on the cross, a rest that we can enjoy at all times, "for we which have believed do enter into rest" (Heb. 4:3). Rejoice as you rest in His work.
In the assembly of the saints, rejoice! As the Scripture is preached, rejoice in the awesome privilege of hearing the very words of God which He has caused to be proclaimed and preserved for the sake of His body, the church. Revel in the gospel of God "and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest" (Rom. 16:25_26). As you partake of the bread and wine in the Lord's supper, rejoice that His body was broken for you, that His blood was shed for you. Let this joy overflow in your corporate music. "Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King!" (Ps. 149:1_2). Remember that you are singing with an innumerable company of joyful angels surrounding the throne of God. Remember what they are singing about: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing . . . for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:12, 9). Heaven is a place of joyful song!
Christian, lift up your eyes! Through the cross Christ has opened for you an eternity of blessing, overflowing forever from the hand of the Lord of heaven! Grace upon grace awaits you who are in Christ, both in this life and the life hereafter. You stand on the brink of everlasting bliss, a feast of joy unending in the presence of the Lord of glory and His holy angels, and nothing in heaven or earth will ever separate you from His infinite love. He is yours, and you are His, so I will say it again: rejoice!