Key passage

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives.
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable—at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:1-11

Quotes from Chapter 3

For the joy that was set before him…

Thomas Goodwin

Christians intuitively know that it pleases Christ when we listen to him and obey him. But what if his very heart and joy is engaged in a new way in our foibles and failures?

Christ’s “own joy, comfort, happiness, and glory are increased and enlarged by his showing grace and mercy, in pardoning, relieving, and comforting his members here on earth.”

Thomas Goodwin1

Christ does not get flustered and frustrated when we come to him for fresh forgiveness, for renewed pardon, with distress and need and emptiness. It’s what he came to heal. He went down into the horror of death and plunged out through the other side in order to provide a limitless supply of mercy and grace to his people.

Jesus doesn’t want us to draw on his grace and mercy only because it vindicates his atoning work. He wants us to draw on his grace and mercy because it is who he is. He drew near to us in the incarnation so that his joy and ours could rise and fall together—his in giving mercy, ours in receiving it.

We tend to think that when we approach Jesus for help in our need and mercy amid our sins, we somehow detract from him, lessen him, impoverish him. As truly God, Christ cannot become any more full; he shares in his Father’s immortal, eternal, unchangeable fullness. Yet as truly man, Christ’s heart is not drained by our coming to him; his heart is filled up all the more by our coming to him.

… keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

“For the joy.” What joy? What was waiting for Jesus on the other side of the cross?

The joy of seeing his people forgiven.

What does the writer in Hebrews mean when he speaks of Jesus sitting down at God’s right hand?

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 1:3

Now the main point of what is being said is this: We have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

Hebrews 8:1

But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 10:12

In all these texts, Jesus’ 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.

I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.

Luke 15:7

I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

John 15:11

Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them.

John 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.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation.

John 17:24

Christ is the head; we are his own body parts. How does a head feel about his own flesh?

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of his own body.

Ephesians 5:29, 30

We are part of Christ. This is why the risen Christ asks a persecutor of his people, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

Jesus Christ is comforted when you draw from the riches of his atoning work, because his own body is getting healed.


  1. Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2011), 107. Similarly Sibbes: “We cannot please Christ better than in showing ourselves welcome, by cheerful taking part of his rich provision. It is an honour to his bounty to fall to.” Richard Sibbes, Bowels Opened, Or, A Discovery of the Near and Dear Love, Union, and Communion Between Christ and the Church, in The Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. A.B. Grosart, 7 vols (repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1983), 2:34.

Questions

  • Does the truth of this chapter give you an excuse to sin? Why or why not (cite Scripture)?
  • What does the writer in Hebrews mean when he speaks of Jesus sitting down at God’s right hand? What is the significance of Christ sitting at the right-hand of God?
  • Ortlund cites a quote from Thomas Goodwin that begins, “The glory and happiness of Christ are enlarged…” Read the quote again and explain what it means in your own words.
  • What do you need to bring to Christ? Consider a recurring sin or something you are ashamed to think about.

This article is adapted from: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Gentle and Lowly Study Guide by Robert Zink.

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