Advent: December 15

Read: Hebrews 12:1–2, 12
Thoughts for Parents:

Jesus was joyful. In fact, Hebrews 1:9 says that because He loved righteousness and hated wickedness, His Father had caused Him to be gladder than anyone around Him. Jesus knew what it was to laugh a belly laugh, to smile, to have joy. You wouldn’t have thought of Him as grumpy or a stick in the mud. He was fun to be around. Of course, that doesn’t mean that He was superficial or silly or that He told off-color jokes, or that He wasn’t serious when humor wasn’t appropriate. Unlike us, He knew how to be happy without sinning. But Jesus also knew what it was to suffer. During His entire life as a weak man and especially during His last few hours, He was sustained by looking forward to promised bliss. He looked forward to “the joy that was set before him” as He endured the cross, thinking nothing of the shame that probably would have stopped most of us. Be treated like that? Not hardly! His hope of a future joy was strongly tethered to the truth that a day was coming when He would sit again at the right hand of His Father’s throne—but this time He would be bearing the flesh He’d been given in Mary’s little womb. He’d gone away as the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity; He would return as the God-Man, Jesus, the Christ, forever outfitted in His wedding garb, our flesh.

You know, it’s easy for us to think that Jesus’ faith-walk was effortless; after all, He was God. But nothing could be farther from the truth. The entire time He lived here, He never accessed His deity in order to make obedience, faith, or life easier for himself. He lived just like you and I do, walking by faith and not by sight. He believed that His Father would welcome Him to heaven, although He had been forever transformed from God, the Word, to Jesus, the God-Man. He believed that His bride would love Him. So, it was in the light of this great hope that He persevered through the deepest pit of suffering: His Father’s forsaking Him and pouring out His entire wrath for all our sin on His head. He kept His eye fixed on the joy of relationship and reunion with His Father and with us.

Now, if that doesn’t produce joy in your heart, I simply don’t know what will. He ran the race with patience that was set before Him so that He would be able to perfectly represent us: as the obedient Son, the slaughtered Lamb, the risen King.

Thoughts for Children:

Today we hear about how happy Jesus was. Now you might think that He was only happy when good things happened, I know that’s when I’m happy. But our verse says that Jesus was thinking about joy when He went to the cross. It was actually what helped Him go through the hardest, most painful, worst thing in His entire life. The thought of making you one of His brothers or sisters, the thought of making you one of God’s kids, the thought of all of us being together someday with Him in Heaven, these were the thoughts that helped Him get through the most difficult thing He ever had to do.

When you have days that are hard, where nothing seems to be going right, and nothing makes you smile, remember Jesus: He loves you right in the middle of your frown. Thinking of Him will help you smile, it makes us strong. Thinking about His love for us will be what helps you get through those really tough, nothing is going right days. His love is just that great and just that good.

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