“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross… and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).
What was the ‘joy’ set before Jesus that caused Him to endure the torturous cross?
It was you and I.
We’re the joy set before Him and we’re the Father’s inheritance---Jesus bought us with His blood. Christ came from the bosom of God for the sole purpose of dying. It brought Jesus great delight knowing He pleased His Father by giving His life as atonement and bringing many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
The joy of Jesus was the Self-sacrifice He willingly gave to complete His Father’s purpose “I delight to do thy will” (Psalm 40:8). He obeyed God to the point of death. Jesus knew His death and resurrection would bring eternal life to all who would accept Him as Lord and Savior.
Is happiness and joy the same? No.
Happiness depends upon what happens externally. Human nature associates being happy with ‘good’ experiences. But, when something ‘bad’ occurs, happiness flees.
Joy is internal. The joy required of a Christian is produced by the Spirit of God and is distinct from mere happiness. Internal joy is holy and pure. It rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of Jesus. This kind of joy looks beyond the present to future salvation. Joy is possible, even in the midst of the most sorrowful circumstances (II Corinth 6:10).
Outwardly, Christ endured one of the most troubled lives ever lived. Yet His inner life was full of joy and calm assurance “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).
“It’s when we taste Thy love, our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above, and heaven begins below.” -C.H. Spurgeon