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For the Joy...

Ever been afraid of what's to come?

Ever felt that paralyzing, stomach-churning, soul-sucking, mind-racing, unrelenting fear of the unknown.

Swallowing tears that would swallow your hope, drown your joy, and burn your throat.

God-help-me tears. Lord-have-mercy tears. Sentence-passed, waiting-on-death-row tears.

The kind of desperate feeling that crushes hope and erases joy. The kind of fear that makes you beg for a happy ending, but leaves you hanging—feeling helpless.

But what if you knew it was worth it? What if you knew something no one else knew—that everything would turn out better than anyone could have expected? The fairytale ending, the too-good-to-be-true ending was true? Would it make the fear any less? Would it make you smile? Would it give you joy or hope?

Jesus knew what no one else knew.

It was a few days before Passover. All of Jerusalem remembered the blood of the innocent lambs painted on the doorways and the Angel of Death passing over—sparing the lives of their firstborn sons.

But Yeshua knew the time had come. As He thought about the Passover, the innocent, firstborn lamb, the Paschal lamb, the Passover Lamb, He knew He was going to be the Lamb, the final, once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Imagine what He must've thought as He ate that last supper with His closest followers. The betrayal. The denials. The doubts. The arrest. The cross.

After supper, He led his followers down the west side of the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. He'd told His disciples what was coming, but He knew they didn't understand—couldn't understand. As they descended the hill, He would've seen the sun slowly encroaching upon the Temple. Looking across the valley, he would've seen the Eastern Gate. I imagine him remembering the hosannas ringing. "Save us!"

Did He imagine the people waving their palm branches? They had received Him as a victorious king, but they couldn't see His kingdom. They didn't understand His dream to reign in their hearts—to change their lives not their government.

As He continued down the mountain, they came to the olive press. Gat Shmanim. גת שמנים‎.

The time had come. He was the fully ripe olive ready to be crushed in the press. Just as the ripest olive oozes red in the press, He sweat drops like blood. What the sleeping disciples couldn't see was his soul being crushed beneath the weight of what was to come.

Despite the agony, He would endure the pain, the shame, the sins of the world that came with the cross because of the joy no one else could see.

As He prayed near the olive press, He could see the Eastern Gate just up the hill below the Temple—the gate He had entered as the Savior—the gate He would enter once again as the Lamb of God—the gate that would be buried and sealed after the Temple would be destroyed—the gate that would one day be replaced—that He would one day enter into the New Jerusalem, the city whose name will be Yahweh Is There—The I AM Is There.

The gate He would enter for the joy set before Him.

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