Previous articles dealt with the glory of God that was displayed to Moses, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. These Theophanies, or Christophanies, were displays of God’s Person and attributes. The revelation of God’s glory resulted in worship, and affected the work these three men did for God and their witness to the people. In Isaiah and Ezekiel the vision is of the pre-incarnate Christ, and the glory He had with the Father.
The incarnate Christ also displayed His glory. In the synoptic Gospels, glory is associated with the birth of Christ and with His future appearance. In John, however, the incarnate Word is seen in all His glory. There is a revelation of His past, present, and prospective glory. These aspects are associated with the Person, power, passion, and present position of the Lord Jesus.
In chapter 1 verse 14 of his Gospel, John saw a display of glory when viewing the Lord Jesus, the eternal Word made flesh. This could be a reference to the transfiguration and the radiance seen on that occasion. In the context, however, it would seem that the reference is to His Person and character, full of grace and truth.
In chapter 1 verse 18 the Son, who resides in the Father’s bosom, revealed the invisible God. This is similar to the truth of Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1-4 where God has revealed Himself, ‘in his Son’, or, more literally, ‘in Son’. That is, the Son is more than a messenger, like the prophets; He is the message. He is ‘the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person’, v. 3.
John’s account of the incarnation is summed up in four words, ‘the Word became flesh’, 1. 14. The Lord Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with man, and, like the Old Testament tabernacle, God’s glory was resident in Him. John could say that the glory of the Only begotten, the One and only of the Father, was made visible. It was the glory of His Person, what J. G. Bellett called, the ‘The Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ’. This glory shone in all that He did and was displayed in grace and truth.
The Lord Jesus was the embodiment of grace. In the Gospels grace is associated with the Person of Christ, it speaks of His character. According to Titus chapter 2 verse 11, grace was revealed on earth in the Person of Christ; the epiphany of ‘grace … that brings … salvation to all men’. His lips were full of grace so that His speech was gracious. There was an overflow, or abundance of, grace – super-abounding grace, John 1. 16.
It was this display of grace in touching the lives of others that led the crowd to say, ‘He has done all things well’, Mark 7. 37. Peter said of Him, ‘nor was deceit found in his mouth’, 1 Peter 2. 22. It is amazing to think that the Lord Jesus never had to retract a word, or apologize for saying the wrong thing. It was true of Him, that His speech was always with grace, Col. 4. 6.
The Lord Jesus was also truth in the flesh. As the eternal Word, God manifest in the flesh, He could say, ‘I am the truth’, John 14. 6. God’s word is truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and the Lord Jesus is truth. Truth, by its very nature, is absolute and exclusive. It must contain the idea of truthfulness which is seen in the character, conduct, and conversation of the Lord Jesus. The glory of His person was in full display while He walked on earth.
In John chapter 2 verse 11, it is His works, or power, that manifested His glory. This is the first of seven signs in John’s Gospel, miracles performed before His death on the cross. This sign demonstrated His power to transform from the inside, to replace emptiness with joy. The six water-pots were there for religious purposes, the outward but ritualistic manifestation of righteousness. These pots were empty, much like the Jewish religion that was devoid of reality. The Lord Jesus did an inner unseen work that transformed water into wine.
There are encounters with six individuals in John’s Gospel that could be represented by these empty pots. All six found that their religious life was empty, lacking reality, and with no joy. These encounters can be grouped in three couplets. Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman both found that the Lord Jesus had the answer to the longing of their souls. They were seeking for something that would satisfy.
In John chapter 4 verses 46-53 it is the nobleman’s son and, in chapter 5 verses 1-15 it is the man with the infirmity by the pool, Bethesda. The nobleman and the infirmed man both faced hopeless situations that their religious beliefs could not remedy. Their lives changed when they met the Lord Jesus.
The blind man of John chapter 9 and Lazarus in chapter 11 are both in need, both beyond hope and past help. The blind man received sight, and Lazarus was made alive. In the case of Lazarus the situation was ‘for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it’, 11. 4. In all of these lives the work was unseen, from the inside out; wholeness, satisfaction, and joy were the results.
The servant’s part in the miracle in John chapter 2 was to do what He said unto them. They poured in the water but had no power to cause the inner transformation. So it is today, believers share the gospel, pouring it into empty vessels by the preaching of the word, the inner unseen work is done by the Lord, and is to His glory. Every soul that is saved is a miracle of grace through faith, so no one could boast; all is to the glory of God.
This aspect of His glory is introduced in John chapter 12 verses 27-28, and is seen again in chapter 13 verses 31-32. In response to the request of the Greeks to see Jesus, the Lord said, ‘The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified’, 12. 23. Up to this point in His ministry the Lord Jesus had said, the hour is not yet come, or ‘My time has not yet fully come’, 7. 8.
In John chapter 12 verse 28 His prayer is for the glory of the Father’s name, and the response from heaven is that this has and will happen. In the context the cross is in view, as the Lord Jesus talks of a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. In chapter 13 it is the cross as well as the resurrection and ascension that are presented. It is also the subject of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Father the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You’, 17. 1.
The glory of the cross, first and foremost, is that the Father’s will was accomplished. Beyond that, His attributes were displayed, mercy and truth met, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. The love of the Father is fully seen at the cross in that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for us.
The cross is also to the glory of the Lord Jesus, in redemption, and in renown. At the cross He was the sacrificial Lamb, the substitutionary offering, and the Shepherd who died for the sake of the flock. At the cross He defeated Satan’s power over death and freed us from the bondage of fear, He satisfied the just demands of God, and He paid the price for our sins.
The Father glorified the Son in the cross, and, ever since, His people have given Him glory because of His love for us, and the redemption found in Him. Through all of eternity, worship and glory will be given to the Lamb who was slain.
John chapter 17 verse 1 is a further request of the Lord Jesus with regard to the glory of the cross. In verse 5 the request has to do with restoration of His former glory, in view of His finished work on earth. This is the positional glory of the Lord Jesus. He is given an exalted place, ‘seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come’, Eph. 1. 20, 21.
The Lord Jesus is now at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is over all things, Head of the church; He has a more excellent name than the angels, a name which is above every name. He is the Great High Priest, He is the Chief Shepherd, and He is the heavenly Bridegroom.
A fitting illustration of the acquired glories of Christ can be found in David’s life and his conquest of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17. In verse 25 the three rewards are listed that would be given to one who could kill the giant. He would be enriched with great riches, the King’s daughter would become his wife, and his family would be free of taxes. David conquered the giant and, in time, these all came true for him. He took the enemy’s sword and armour to his own tent, and made a show of his triumph openly. He was also praised by the people and exalted to the head of the army by Saul. The nation was freed from the bondage of the fear of death. He went ultimately from a shepherd to a sovereign, from obscurity to renown, and from rejection to reigning.
As great as these honours were they pale in comparison to what happened to the Lord Jesus, David’s greater Son. The Lord Jesus has been enriched, a bride is being gathered for Him, and all who have a relationship with Him by faith, are free in Him. This is the One presented as being ‘crowned with glory and honour’, Heb. 2. 9. The very one who tasted death for every man is now exalted to the highest place.