Hebrews 12:2-3 ESV
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
Why did Jesus Die?
Why did Jesus die that horrible death on a cross? Yes, it was to take our sins upon himself and to put them to death with him so that, by faith in him, we could be forgiven our sins, be free from the punishment of sin, escape hell, and go to heaven when we die. But that is only part of the story.
When Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross, he bought us back for God (he redeemed us) so that we would now be God’s possession, and so that we would now glorify God with our lives (with our bodies). He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21; Eph 2:10; Tit 2:14).
You see, the purpose of his death was not just to pay the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay the penalty, but it was to deliver us from our slavery to sin so that we could now, empowered by God’s Spirit, become slaves (bondservants) of Christ’s righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
So, the joy that was set before him was our redemption. It was his blood purchasing us back for God so that we would no longer be under the control of sin and of Satan, but so we would now be under the control of God’s Spirit; so we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but so we would now be enslaved to righteousness.
Therefore, he came to this earth, took on human flesh, and he suffered and was tempted as we suffer and are tempted, yet without sin. He was harassed continually by the religious leaders in the temple of God, called crazy, and he was accused of being of Satan and of being a blasphemer. And they were all the time trying to trick him in hopes that they could trip him up with his words so that they would have cause to accuse him.
Then, they falsely arrested him, brought false accusations against him, gave him a mock trial, spat on him, beat him mercilessly, mocked him, and they treated him with contempt and derision. And they hung him on a tree (a cross) to die, as though he was a common criminal, and although he had done no wrong but only good.
But this was in God’s plan for our redemption. So, Jesus was put to death, but on the third day he was resurrected from the dead by the Father. Then he appeared to many people, including his disciples, and then he ascended back to the Father in heaven, after which he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers to be Jesus in them, so that we always have Jesus with us.
Why was Jesus hated?
But why did his persecutors treat him this way? What was their reasoning? The Scriptures say they hated him without cause, without just cause. For, they hated him because he was not like them, and because he didn’t follow all their religious customs and their man-made rules (traditions).
They were jealous of him, too, for Jesus’ initial popularity among the people, and they were threatened by him that if he continued to gain the confidence of the people that their own positions of power and authority might be in jeopardy. So, they sought to discredit him and to turn the people against him to save their own skins.
They also did not like it that he claimed to be God, which is who he is, and that he confronted them with their sins, warned of divine judgment, and that he called for repentance, for obedience, and for submission to him as Lord. And then he told them that if they did not die the death he was to die to sin, and if they did not follow him in obedience, that they did not have eternal life with God (Jn 6:44-56; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Lu 9:23-26).
Consider Jesus’ Opposition
So, we are to consider Jesus who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that we may not grow weary or fainthearted.
The overall context of this passage of Scripture appears to be in regard to us overcoming sin, yet I believe we can also take from this verse that we are to learn to endure hostility against ourselves from those practicing sin against God who are hostile to God by their attitudes, philosophies and behaviors.
We are to walk the walk that Jesus walked, and we are to lay our lives down for others to see them set free from their slavery to sin, too.
Now, we obviously don’t die for people’s sins, nor could we. For Jesus, our perfect and sacrificial Lamb, and our high priest, already did that, once for all, so that has already been taken care of for us. But, when we follow Jesus in obedience, and we do and say the kinds of things he did and said, he said we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted.
And the reason we do and say the kinds of things he did and said are for the same reasons as he did and said them, and that is that human beings might go free from their slavery to sin, and that they might now become slaves of his righteousness and live their lives for his glory and praise and not for themselves. And it is out of love and obedience to our Lord.
So, when we are walking in fellowship with our Lord, and we are living lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world, those who are worldly, including many professing Christians, will not like us, and they won’t want to be around us, and they may mock us and think us crazy, too.
And if we are sharing the teachings of Jesus Christ and of his New Testament apostles, and we are proclaiming the whole counsel of God, the gospel of our salvation in its fulness, we will be despised and rejected by those who are worldly, including by worldly Christians. Some of our fiercest opposition, in fact, may come from within the church, not from without.
But we are not to grow weary or to become fainthearted when they persecute us, and when they are hostile towards us because of our faith and because of the message of our salvation which we proclaim. For, we are to look to Jesus, consider all that he endured for us, and we must be willing to endure the same for the joy set before us, too, which is the salvation of human lives.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.