DAY TWENTY-TWO OF FEBRUARY, YEAR OF GRACE TWENTY FIFTEEN
A gracEmail subscriber writes: “The author of Hebrews says that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). What is that joy? Paul prayed for his converts to know “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). Is this saying what it sounds like? Are the saved themselves somehow a part of Christ’s own reward?
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God has named Jesus “heir of all things” and that includes every human being he rescues from destruction (Heb. 1:2). They all will be presented to him as a gift and reward for his own self-giving love. Jesus “gave himself for us,” and God gave us to Jesus to be “a people of his own” (Titus 2:14; John 6:35-40). All the redeemed throughout human history, from every time and place and nation and race will be presented to him as his trophy-prize and inheritance–and that includes you and me.
Any gift to God (here the Son of God) should be perfectly formed, without flaw or filth, first-class in every way. By his atoning work at his first advent, and by all that he does to and for his people (the church) throughout their Christian lives, Jesus is forming them all into his very own likeness. By the time they are presented to the Savior, they will have been “sanctified by the Spirit for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2), cleansed by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26), “reconciled . . . in order to present (Col. 1:22), and equipped “with everything good” (Heb. 13:21). When finally presented to Jesus, we will be “holy and blameless” (Eph. 1:3), “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, . . . without blemish” (Eph. 5:27), “irreproachable” (Col. 1:22), and entirely sanctified (1 Thes. 5:23),
Obviously you and I cannot accomplish this ourselves–but God “is able to keep you from falling and to present you . . . with rejoicing” (Jude 24). Jesus will “sustain you to the end . . . guiltless” (1 Cor. 1:8). He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Phil. 1:6). And so we pray with Paul: “May the God of peace sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless . . . He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thes. 5:23-24). We, the redeemed, will be Christ’s own prize and inheritance. The joy inspired by that anticipation put Jesus’ suffering on the cross in a different perspective and enabled him to endure it.