The Glory of Jesus
In John chapter 1 the apostle includes a brief statement with huge impact: we beheld his glory (John 1:14). This comes immediately after one of the greatest power-statements of all time: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This is important: the reason the disciples could see God’s glory was that God personally stepped into human history; it was God who took the initiative.
The Greek word glory is related to splendor and brilliance. Jesus was filled with and marked by splendor – but a different kind. John goes on to describe the glory they saw: glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Three things stand out about this glory that marked Jesus:
- First, it’s God’s Trinitarian glory. This glory is specifically related to the ‘only Son from the Father’; that is, God’s Trinitarian glory revealed through the eternal Son. That the eternal God would decide to reveal his glory to us and be with us – personally - is remarkable.
- Second, it’s the glory of God’s grace. In writing to the Ephesians, Paul says that we have been predestined for adoption ‘to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved’. Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned love and favor; this is revealed to us dramatically in Jesus.
- Third, it’s the glory of God’s truth. In Christ, God has given the definitive statement and interpretation of reality. God’s truth is really truth; it’s truthy And so in Christ he brings us up to understand reality from his eternal perspective.
This is a different understanding of God’s glory than we may have grown up with. Some of us imagine a goldish cloud of haze that sneaks into the auditorium when we are worshipping; if we hit just the right note at just the right moment, we may experience it.
It reminds me of the speaker at CBU conference who interrupted her talk to point out the cloud of glory she saw hanging in the rafters of Anderson Auditorium in Montreat. Some could see it, some couldn’t. But what she didn’t know was that a youth conference had just been in that hall with their smoke machines going full-blast, and there was a bit of lingering smoke.
When we talk about beholding God’s glory in Christ, we’re talking about being transformed by the resurrected Lord. We’re talking about gazing up on the grace of God revealed in Jesus, who lived a perfect life – the one we should have lived, who died a death in our place on the cross – the one we should have died, and who was raised from the dead by the power of God.
Seeing God’s glory in Christ is what animates our mission; we want everyone to get in on the goodness of God. Growing up, my dad was an evangelist for JIF crunchy peanut butter. He loved it so much, he wanted everyone to get in on it and enjoy it. Never mind the fact that some people pay prefer smooth peanut butter between their Nilla wafers; JIF crunchy was the best – he had tasted it, enjoyed it, experienced it, and he wanted everyone to know.
That’s what the disciples were like with Jesus. They experienced his goodness, his grace, his love, and they saw the resurrected Lord; they beheld his glory, and sharing that experience with a world in need was the easiest thing they could do.
As we are captivated by Christ’s grace, when we experience his glory, sharing this with others is easy. We are going to fulfil our mission to take the gospel to the nations of the earth – but it all starts with seeing his glory.
On this, I want to invite you to join us for our November Gathering. Our theme is Beholding His Glory, and we’re going to have a great time gazing upon the splendor of Jesus. The dates are November 10-12, and our speakers including Carlton and Dee Baxter, Dr. Brian Miller, and Matt Jones.
In addition to exploring our theme of beholding God’s glory, we're excited to include two special seminars for pastors, leaders, parents, and grandparents, and anyone who want to understand today's generation and how to reach them with the gospel:
- Understanding the Times: How the Postmodern Movement has transformed our culture, and what this means for Christian Mission by Dr. Brian Miller.
- Reaching the Next Generation: Understanding generation Y (Millennials), Generation Z (post-Millennials), and how to reach them with the love and truth of Christ by Matt Jones.
I look forward to seeing you in November. In the mean time, take time to enjoy the glory of God - and share that glory with others.