To think that Jesus did not get discouraged is something quite difficult to comprehend. If there was anyone who had a right and the right circumstances to be discouraged, it was Jesus. He was the target of their spit, the recipient of hurtful words, and a homeless wanderer with no place to call his own. When he preached hard truths the crowds left him in throngs, only a few remained. His family found him plain embarrassing. If that were not enough, in the hour of his greatest need his closest friends would betray his heart—sleeping in one of his most painful hours, denying him three times when he was in most need of friendship and betraying him for money when he was about to give his entire life.
His journey on earth can be summed up in the words of John—“though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (Jn 1:10). Can there be more hurt than this? Yet Jesus did not give way to discouragement. We know this as the prophet Isaiah says that the Messiah would not “falter or be discouraged” (Is 42:1-4; KJV or NIV).
How can this be? How can someone suffer so much heartache, so much pain physically, emotionally and spiritually and so much rejection yet not become discouraged? Jesus could only keep from discouragement because he never lost sight of the eternal perspective. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” says the writer of Hebrews (Heb 12:2). He knew that the best was yet to come—that there was more to this life than the present circumstances. And for those who are the people of God this same hope and joy set before Jesus is the same joy and hope set before us as well. For this reason we too can find encouragement in the most dire of circumstances. This life isn’t all there is. Suffering, heartache and death do not have the last word–Jesus does. And the joy he was able to see ahead was so extraordinary that the cross was worth enduring. This kind of hope fills the soul with a buoyancy that nothing in this life can sink. And that is very good news.