Love, Death, and Glory

What is glory?

I wonder if the disciples ever asked that question. Maybe not at first. When they saw six jars of water transform into wine, I think it would have seemed quite clear. Even when Christ told the glory-seeking Jews that he didn’t receive glory from men; that He didn’t even seek His own glory, but the Father’s, perhaps it didn’t seem so strange. But maybe when He said the Father glorified Him; and moments later the Jews tried to stone Him. Maybe it was then that they began to wonder.

Or maybe when Jesus told them that Lazarus’ sickness wouldn’t end in death, but in His glory. When He told Mary that if she believed she would see the glory of God. Do you think they looked at each other in bewilderment? And then they looked on in wonder as He raised the dead.

What is glory? One of the most important concepts in the Bible, and yet one of the most confusing, the most seemingly mystical. The entire book of John relates the gradual unfolding of the glory of the Son of God.

It was just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem that the Greeks came to see Him, that Philip and Andrew carried the message to their Lord. And He told them His hour had come. His hour to be glorified. It is time, He said. Now – now you will begin to see the purpose of My coming.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it will bear much fruit.” Why this analogy? Why follow such a declaration with such a foreboding statement? “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

His soul had become troubled, and He asked the Father to save Him from that hour, yet this was His purpose. And, “Father, glorify Your name,” he prayed. And the Father answered – He had, and would again.

It was night when Judas left. As he stepped out the door, as he made his way down the stairs, as he fled through the darkened streets, thirty silver pieces testified to the sale of his soul, and the devil himself possessed the one man who had been chosen as the traitor. And the Scriptures were fulfilled.

As Satan played his master piece, it set in motion the culmination of God’s glory in the face of Christ. Now, Jesus said, now is the Son of Man glorified. He would be lifted up on a cross, He would be subjected to greater agony than any man had ever known, and this was His glory.

What is glory? His glory was in washing the feet of the disciples who didn’t fully understand His lordship. It was in choosing as one of His inner circle the man who would betray Him. It was in the dusty, weary road to Calvary. It was in a cruel, horrendous death and the bearing of every single one of our sins – all the wrath of God, all the deserved death and agony, bearing down upon Him in a weight that no human could ever know. It was in the resurrection, when Life Himself proclaimed eternal victory over the grave.

His glory is in His love – that divine, awesome, awful outpouring of love that saw rebels and desired to make them children; that love that poured in crimson streams from the head, hands, feet, and side of the Son of God. And why? For His glory. To magnify His name.

What is glory? “My Father is glorified by this,” Jesus said, “that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” And just pause and think about this, because what kind of impossible grace would grant to us that we could be a part of this – of this mountain of glory?

To bear fruit. What is that fruit? After Judas left – after Jesus told them He was now glorified – He gave the answer. He was only with them a little longer, He said, and they could not follow Him where He was going. So He gave them one more commandment, an injunction to outweigh any other. “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” And He Himself had said the seed could not bear fruit unless it died.

He calls us to love as He loved us. To die, every day, to our pride, our selfishness, our idol-worship of what is His gift, not Himself. To stand silently and take an insult without lashing back in accusations you know most fully to be true, to forgive, and treat them like they never said it. To be a servant to the one who treats you like that’s exactly what you are. To give, and keep on giving, past the limits of your own power. This is glory. Not our glory, but His, the manifestation of His power in us.

Because we can’t do this. This glory is too high, too painful, too much for us. We are incapable. “Apart from Me,” Jesus said, “you can do nothing.”

But there is a way. And it’s one of those most beautiful, comforting, life-altering truths that spring from the pages of Scripture. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Abide. Stay. Remain. Dwell. Continue. Abide in Him.

Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Let His words echo through your mind as you lie alone at night. Stand in awe and wonder before His revelations in the pages of Scripture. He commands us to delight in Him, to let Him satisfy that longing in our hearts, so turn to Him to find your joy. Let that joy overflow into the lives of your family, your friends, and those who hate you. Let His power work in you to bear fruit beyond your dreams and the expectations of this world. This is glory.

//Scripture quoted/referenced ~ John 13-15; John 2:13; 5:41-44; 7:18; 8:54-59; 11:4, 40; 12:20-28; 2 Corinthians 4:6//

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