God in the City (Hebrews 12:2)
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:2
Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He knew his mission.
The evangelist Luke captures Jesus’s relentless journey—that “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Nothing deterred him.
In their new book, Why Cities Matter, Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard discuss the significance of Jesus coming into the city of Jerusalem. Cities, after all, are loaded with prominence through the biblical storyline. The end-time vision of the new world is focused on a city, the new Jerusalem. This is at the heart of our hope in the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22). And as Um and Buzzard contend, the only reason this lasting city can be our hope is because of what Jesus did in Hebrews 12:1–2.
Mirroring the presence of God in the Garden of Eden and foreshadowing the end-time city of God, God the Son entered a city. Jesus entered Jerusalem. But this was a broken city. The inhabitants didn’t hide from God’s presence this time, nor did they celebrate his presence. Instead, they sought to eradicate it. They killed him.
Um and Buzzard write,
How can an unfaithful, forsaken city become “Not Forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12)? The answer lies in the upside-down wisdom of the cross. In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God takes the antagonism, hostility, and violence of the inhabitants of the earthly city upon himself. Jesus, God’s Son, is forsaken (Matthew 27:46) in order that he might create a city called “Not Forsaken.” He faithfully bears the punishment for our unfaithfulness so that his city can be called righteous and faithful (Isaiah 1:26). (Why Cities Matter, 72)
Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. And therefore we look to that city which is to come (Hebrews 13:14).