“Sacrifice” is a word that we all associate with goodness, with virtue, with honor. It’s funny though, when I make a sacrifice, even a voluntary one, I’m not normally celebratory. More often than not, I’m grumbling or at the very least identifying myself as a person experiencing loss and “less than”. I complain about how tired I am and how thankless my sacrificial tasks are. I long for the moments when sacrifice is not required of me.
How did Jesus approach sacrifice? He experienced sacrifice in the same way we all do as human persons. Hebrews 12 tells us that He ran the same race but with His sites fixed on the unseen joy ahead, a joy that is the fruit of sacrifice. Jesus told a story in Matthew 13:44 of a man who discovered a treasure in a field and then sacrificed all that he had to buy that field. The part that makes me stop and take note is that this man sold everything WITH joy. The hidden treasure to come was a very present reality even in the midst of the loss of all that he owned. It was unseen and yet joy flowed from confidence in that reality. Maybe as He told this story, Jesus was describing the intensity of joy He was experiencing in the moments that He walked among us, in the midst of the hundreds of sacrifices He made daily just to be WITH us. Even as He lived in awareness of the ultimate sacrifice that was ahead, the connection between joy and sacrifice was so real that there was no hint of self-pity, fear of loss or missing out. Sacrifice is an investment in unseen but very real joy ahead.
I love imagining Jesus’ life on earth as one full of a joy that dwarfed the pain of sacrifice. If you’ve been to the Our Journey Workshop, you might remember we heard that when Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He was actually saying, “I think you could do what I do. You can be like me.” As I place myself right next to Jesus, my teacher, walking through a life that sometimes calls me to the pain of sacrifice, I realize that He shows me how to make joy more real than sacrifice. Maybe He and I can find joy together. Maybe I can be like Him.
— Linda Noble, Our Journey Coordinator