Gentle and Lowly pp 36-37
“For the joy.” What joy? What was waiting for Jesus on the other side of the cross?
The joy of seeing his people forgiven.
Remember the whole point of Hebrews—Jesus is the high priest to end all high priests, who has made the final atoning sacrifice to completely cover the sins of his people so that they are provided for “to the uttermost” (7:25). And remember what the writer means when he speaks of Jesus sitting down at God’s right hand, at the end of Hebrews 12:2. Elsewhere the writer to the Hebrews is explicit about what this signifies:
After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (1:3)
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. (8:1)
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. (10:12)
In all these texts, Jesus’s seating at God’s right hand is associated with his priestly atoning work. The priest was the bridge between God and humanity. He reconnected heaven and earth. Jesus did this supremely through his climactic and final sacrifice of himself, purifying his people once and for all, cleansing them of their sins. It was the joyous anticipation of seeing his people made invincibly clean that sent him through his arrest, death, burial, and resurrection. When we today partake of that atoning work, coming to Christ for forgiveness, communing with him despite our sinfulness, we are laying hold of Christ’s own deepest longing and joy.
This connects with other texts in the New Testament, such as the joy in heaven over a sinner repenting (Luke 15:7) or Christ’s longing that his own joy would overlap with his disciples’ joy as they abide in his love (John 15:11; 17:13). He wants us to draw strength from his love, but the only ones qualified to do that are sinners in need of undeserved love. And he doesn’t just want us to be forgiven. He wants us. How does Jesus speak of his own deepest desires? Like this: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me” (John 17:24).