Having been raised Catholic and having attended Catholic school through the 8th grade, I was very well schooled on how much Christ suffered for me on the cross. In the church that I attended, it was a central point of theology that was much elaborated upon. This was not bad, in itself. But then, as a born again Christian, I was amazed to see the emphasis change to joy and celebration regarding the resurrection of Christ and our new life in Him. At times I almost felt guilty for sharing in this joy, as though it was inappropriate to experience joy or happiness about His resurrection when He had suffered so terribly on the cross for me.
But Jesus was not a victim.
Jesus was always in complete control of everything that happened in His life. Even in his death he was in control, choosing in His infinite love to submit to the will of the Father for us!
John 10:17,18 “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my Father.”
I knew a person, once upon a time, who would periodically, usually during a corporate time of prayer or worship, launch into mourning and wailing over how much they had made Jesus suffer on the cross. This person would shed many tears and speak with much remorse, telling Jesus they were SO sorry that they had caused Him this horrible pain. This would go on for some time.
At first, perhaps due of my Catholic background, I thought that this might be an admirable display of empathetic remorse. But after a couple of years, it became evident that this person was exhibiting a chronic victim mentality throughout their own life and that it was necessary for them to see Jesus as a victim also in order to justify remaining in this mentality.
But Jesus was not a victim. Jesus was a loving servant who chose to endure the cross for the “joy” set before Him.
Hebrews 12:2 For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Would it be reasonable for me to spend the rest of my life feeling remorse over the birthing pains that my mother endured to bring me life? In fact, it is often said that women are easily able to put that pain behind them for the joy set before them!
Our “born again” Christian life is meant to be a life of joy and celebration about the endless love of God for each one of us. Together with all the Lord’s holy people we are on a wondrous journey to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
This should, unashamedly, be the source of our daily joy.