Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:2
When Jesus hung on the Cross, beaten almost beyond human recognition, He was subjected to intense, ugly verbal abuse. The soldiers at His feet scoffed, religious leaders laughed, and even a criminal being crucified nearby sneered at Him. In this eternally pivotal moment, all of creation should have rejoiced, for the Creator of the universe was paying the ultimate price for the redemption for mankind. It was the single greatest act of love the world had ever witnessed. But instead of comprehending the supreme price Jesus was paying that day, the crowd arrogantly jeered, mocked, and scorned.
Have you ever pondered how all of this ridicule affected Jesus’ emotions when He was dying on the Cross? Let me ask you — what if you were hanging on the Cross and people laughed and mocked you as you died for them? How would you be tempted to feel at that moment?
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Jesus’ body had already been ripped to shreds by the vicious beating He received in the residence of Pontius Pilate. Roman soldiers in Pilate’s court laughed at Him, mocked Him, and played humiliating games with Him. One by one, a whole cohort of soldiers took turns spitting on Him, slapping Him, and striking His face with a reed they took from a nearby fountain in Pilate’s palace. It was extreme verbal, mental, and physical abuse.
Then the soldiers jammed a crown of thorns so firmly on Jesus’ head that the long, sharp spikes perforated His skin and scraped across His skull, causing blood to stream down from His brow like a river until His entire face was covered with it. The thick, sticky blood matted His eyebrows and eyelashes, making it difficult for Him to see. Huge, nine-inch iron nails were driven through His hands and feet, which pierced His nerves and sent signals of pain throughout His entire body. The weight of Jesus’ body hanging from those nails dislocated His shoulders, and His joints were pulled out of place. He struggled to breathe every breath as His lungs began to fill with fluids that would eventually suffocate Him.
Making this unimaginably horrific experience even worse was the fact that Jesus had been completely stripped naked and hung on that Cross humiliated before the hostile crowd. Putting one’s naked body on public display was a great indignity in Jewish culture, thus making the ordeal especially shameful for Him.
Yet Jesus endured all of this agony, pain, and embarrassment willingly. Why? Because His death was the price demanded to purchase forgiveness and redemption for the very people who had done all of this to Him. He was dying for the very people who sneered at Him, for the criminals who laughed at Him, for the soldiers who mocked Him, for the religious leaders who demanded His crucifixion — and for you and me. (In Sparkling Gems 1, April 21-24, I wrote vivid descriptions of the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus. If you have not already read it, I encourage you to do so. It will give you a greater understanding of what Jesus endured to purchase your salvation.)
But how do you think Jesus felt about this experience at the time it was happening? Hebrews 12:2 gives us insight to this question. It says, “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
First, I want you to notice that this verse says that Jesus “endured” the Cross. The word “endured” is from the well-known Greek word hupomeno. It is a compound of the words hupo and meno. The word hupo means under, and the word meno means to abide or to stay. When the two are compounded, the new word portrays a person who is under some type of incredibly heavy load but who refuses to stray from his position because he is committed to his task. Regardless of the load, opposition, stress, or weight that comes against him, he is not going to move. He is going to stay put in his spot and not surrender it to anyone for any reason!
This word depicts one who refuses to bend, break, or surrender because he is convinced that the territory, promise, or principle under assault rightfully belongs to him. It denotes a refusal to give up. One expositor has rightfully translated hupomeno as staying power. However, my favorite translation of the word hupomeno is hang-in-there power!
The fact that the Holy Spirit chose to use this word to describe Jesus’ time on the Cross tells us emphatically this was not an enjoyable experience. Regardless of how difficult and humiliating the experience was, Jesus was committed to “endure” it because the shedding of His blood was the only way to purchase our freedom from Satan, sin, and the effects of the curse that Adam’s disobedience brought upon the human race.
The Cross was so unpleasant that Hebrews 12:2 goes on to tell us that Jesus “despised” it. This is very important because it reveals exactly how Jesus felt emotionally about His time spent on the Cross. According to this verse, He “despised” the whole experience. The word “despise” is from the Greek word kataphroneo, a compound of kata and phroneo. The word kata means down, and the word phroneo means to think. When the two are compounded into one word, the new word means to think down on something or to despise it. It could be translated to loathe, to spurn, to detest, to abhor, to have an aversion, or to find something revolting or repulsive. The Cross was a degrading, crushing, and humiliating experience. In fact, crucifixion was the lowest, crudest, and most barbaric form of death in the Roman Empire.
Hebrews 12:2 goes on to tell us that Jesus despised the “shame” of this experience. The word “shame” is aischune, which depicted disgrace, embarrassment, or humiliation. In the New Testament language, the word aischune carries mostly the idea of shame. By using this word, the author of Hebrews was telling us that the Cross was something that brought shame to Jesus. It was an act of indignity which degraded, debased, and dishonored Him.
Just before He died, Jesus cried out and said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). In this amazing statement, I want you to take note of the word “forgive.” It is from the word aphiemi, which means to release, as in releasing a prisoner or setting someone free from an act they have carried out. It is the decision to not hold something against someone, but rather to liberate a person from the consequences of his actions. When Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them,” He was saying, “Father, release them…” or “Father, do not hold this against them….”
When you are facing unfair criticism or being blamed for something you didn’t do, it is imperative that you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the example He set for you. He lived a perfect, sinless life and did not deserve the punishment that was laid upon Him. Yet He willfully carried our sicknesses and bore our diseases. And when that sin and sickness was laid upon him, He did not retaliate or strike back! The Bible tells us that “when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously…” (1 Peter 2:23).
There are rare times when nothing can be done to change a situation, and we are required to be silent and trust God to take care of it. First Peter 2:23 says that when Jesus was reviled, He did not revile again, and when He suffered, He threatened not. The word “reviled” is the Greek word loidoreo, which means to speak abusively, to insult someone, or to speak words that are crude and vile. We would call this verbal abuse. However, when these kinds of words were hurled at Jesus, He didn’t return them to his offenders. Instead, He remained silent and “threatened not” when He suffered — even though He could have called upon all of Heaven to deliver Him or to obliterate His enemies. The use of the word loidoreo in this verse emphatically means that Jesus didn’t threaten his enemies when they began to threaten Him.
Instead, Jesus “committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” The word “committed” in First Peter 2:23 is from the Greek word paradidomi, which means to entrust, to hand over, to surrender, or to commit. The fact is, there was no way for Jesus to escape the Cross without abandoning His divine mission on earth. Rather than fight it or becoming angry and vengeful toward His abusers, Jesus chose to turn His eyes to the Father and entrust Himself entirely into God’s hands in that very difficult moment.
Likewise, if you are in a situation that you cannot change, you are called to follow Jesus’ example and entrust yourself into the Father’s care. Retaliating against your offenders or verbally returning words they have said to you will not help you or them. It will just make the situation worse. When you are in a situation that you have no power to change, you must pray for strength to endure the situation, and you must also entrust yourself to God who judges righteously. You can be sure that God is watching, and He will not overlook your prayers of faith or the price you’re paying for the love of Him.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to say thank You for sending Jesus to die for me on Calvary. What a terrible price He paid to purchase my freedom from sin. When He hung on that Tree, it was for me, and for this I want to say thank You from the depths of my heart. Today I ask You for grace to forgive those who have sinned against me, just as Jesus forgave those who sinned against Him. The devil has tried to make me bitter, but I know Your grace can make me better. Rather than focus on the injustice I have experienced, I am fixing my eyes on You and entrusting myself completely into Your loving care.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I joyfully declare that God is my judge and He is watching everything that is taking place in my life right now. I do not have to worry or fret that God doesn’t know what is happening, because I have entrusted myself into His care and He is lovingly watching over me. I will not fight those who have wronged me and I will not retaliate with ugly words. I have made the decision to follow the example of Jesus. So today, I confess that I am not abandoned, I am not alone, but I am resting safely in the arms of my Heavenly Father who deeply cares about me and all that I am going through in my life right now.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Has there ever been a time in your life when you knew that fighting back would accomplish nothing, and you knew that you needed to simply be silent and trust God to work on your behalf? When was that time in your life and what happened as a result of silently trusting God?
- Can you think of someone who is going through a difficult season in life and needs to be reminded that God is watching and that He will take care of those who surrender themselves to Him? Do you need to pick up the phone and call that person today to encourage that person to keep surrendering his or her situation to the Lord?
- What did you specifically learn from today’s Sparkling Gem that was new for you?