This weekend my wife and I went to a Christmas party where we sat around talking and eating and playing Canasta. It was a time of catching up and of laughing, of celebrating the season with friends. I’m horrible at Canasta, so my wife and I lost miserably in the first round, and there was no hope of catching up. But we enjoyed ourselves.
As I sat there listening to our friends share their lives together, I became contemplative and pondering, hearing them, thinking about this strange joy God has given us—one of release and freedom and happiness.
And my thoughts turned to Jesus, wondering what He would have done and how He would have acted in a party like the one we went to Saturday night.
I mean, what went through His mind? I’m not thinking necessarily about the wedding at Cana where He performed His first miracle, but before, long before—when He was still very young but burgeoning with life and maturity and love.
What did He think about? How did He act? I couldn’t help myself listening to something very old and good that belonged to God: It was the hope of Him. The life He’s given us. The anticipation of living eternally free in joy, and of sharing our stories together.
But what did He think on at parties? What kind of secrets did He keep?
Could He have not sat there like any of us, pondering life, the things in His heart and in ours, as the children laughed and the men and women ate and drank?
Or if the moment must have made Him ponder them individually—their future hopes and their lives in heavens, loving them achingly?
How rich His joy must have been! How rich His ache for life, that His people would live out their lives in happiness, experiencing the depths of joy, on earth and in heaven!
And He of course wouldn’t have prided himself that He was their lord. He wouldn’t have had any thought about it. I suppose. For wasn’t His secret, His deepest secret not that He was their lord, but that He would die for them? Isn’t that the joy that He pondered so often in his youth?
At that party last Saturday night, I was rapt with happiness as my wife and I shared in the happiness of our friends, and I thought of how rich our lives would be in heaven. I thought of telling their stories and lifting them up and blessing them, of lifting them up to God, of showering them.
But is it possible that Jesus’s joy wasn’t that He would be lord over them or us, but that He would suffer excruciatingly for all? That while we were laughing and drinking and being merry, He too was sharing in it, His mind solely focused on the horrible death He would face?
It’s a comforting thought to think that in Jesus’s humanity He celebrated his friends, and all their hurts and hopes and loves and joys, and treasured them intimately in his heart, even as He knew the moment was coming when His very heart would be rent from Him by a mechanical claw.
How does one ponder this joy? How can our King have been so happy in His pending terror? Simply because He thought of you.
What better joy would He need to sustain Him on the cross?
“… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:2