THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM

 

By  W. P. CLARK

 

Many books have been written, and many addresses delivered at Conferences on the subject of the Second Advent, which dwell on the joy of the Redeemed, when they see their Lord face to face and shall reign with Him; but few dwell on His Joy, which must be infinitely greater than ours, inasmuch as He has infinitely greater capacity for Joy.  How great will be His Joy may be measured by what He had to "endure" to obtain it.  For the joy set before Him He endured the Cross "despising the shame" (Heb. 12: 2); but "none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed, nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through," ere He found that joy.

 

See Him as He goes up Calvary Hill "so marred from the form of man in His aspect, that His appearance was not that of a Son of man," (Isaiah 52: 14).  With bruised back from the terrible scourging, with blood-stained face from the Cross, of thorns, with bent form from the weight of the Cross, "He endured the Cross."  A beautiful legend tells us that the woman, who had been "bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself" until He had laid hands upon her and "she was made straight," came up to Him, as He staggered under the load of the Cross, and wiped with her handkerchief the blood and sweat from His face.  She knew what it was to suffer with a bent back, and to be jeered at by a multitude!

 

And how can the agony of the Crucifixion be possibly pictured or even imagined?  Intense as must have been the physical suffering, to which were added the jeers and taunts of the Chief Priests and the multitude, in which no doubt the invisible powers of darkness joined, how much more must have been the appalling, unimaginable suffering carried by the absolutely sinless, spotless Son of God, being "made sin" for us, and as such, forsaken of His Father, a fact wringing from His lips that heart-rending cry, - "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?"

 

But He also despised the shame.  When king David sent messengers to condole with Hanun, King of Ammon, on the death of his father, we read that he shaved off half their beards and cut off their garments in the middle, and "the men were greatly ashamed" (1Chron. 19: 5): how much greater must have been the shame of hanging [possibly naked] on a cross exposed to the gaze of the crowd!  "He endured the shame."

 

The other side of the picture - the joy set before Him - still lies in the future.  John in the lonely isle of Patmos saw it in vision.  "And I saw, and I heard the voice of many angels, and the number of them was 10,000 times 10,000, and thousands of thousands (that is, millions), saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power and riches and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.  And every created thing which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them, heard I saying, Unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, be blessing, and the honour, and the glory, and the dominion, for ever and ever" (Rev. 5: 11-13). "And after these things, I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb arrayed in white robes and palms in their hands, and they cry with a great voice saying, Salvation unto our God who sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Rev. 7: 9-14).

 

Paul looked forward to meeting his comparatively few converts, at the coming of the Lord Jesus, as his "joy" and crown - how much greater will be the "joy" of his Lord when He meets His blood-bought converts, in multitude more than man can number! Then shall He see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.  But the consummation of His Joy will no doubt be when He shall reign for a thousand years with those counted worthy to reign with Him.  Who then will "enter into the Joy" of their Lord? And who will hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things"?  Thank God this wonderful joy rests not on great achievements, nor special genius, but on faithfulness; so that the weakest and poorest disciple has a chance to achieve it.  Alas, for those servants - servants still, but found unfaithful - who shall be "cast into outer-darkness," outside the bright Millennial Kingdom until the thousand years are ended!

 

A dramatic incident occurred at a wedding in England.  The bridegroom, William Montague Dyke, had been blinded by an accident when ten years of age, but had, despite his blindness, won University honours, and had also won a beautiful bride, though he had never looked on her face.  Shortly before his marriage he submitted to treatment by experts, and the climax came on the day of his wedding.  The bride entered the Church leaning on the arm of her white-haired father, Admiral Cave.  There stood her future husband with his father and the great oculist, who was cutting away the last bandage.  A beam of rose-colored light from a pane of the chancel window fell across his face, but he did not seem to see it. With a cry of joy he sprang forward to meet his bride.  "At last!  At last!" he uttered, and gazed for the first time on the face of the girl he loved.  How far greater will be the joy of the Heavenly Bridegroom, when He shall present His bride "without blemish, in exceeding joy, before the presence of His Glory." To him be the glory, majesty, dominion and power before all time and now and for evermore!

 

-------