The Sun of Righteousness
Meditations on the glory of Christ
The New Testament has a lot to say about the glory of Jesus Christ and we freely talk about the glory of Christ. But when the Bible uses the word ‘glory’, what is being made reference to? Just what is the ‘glory’ of Christ? When we speak of glory, we speak of honor, splendor, worthiness, reputation, position, wealth. It may be helpful to consider human glory to give us some idea, though inadequate, of divine glory.
Joseph spoke of his position and wealth in Egypt and said to his brothers, ". . . tell my father of my glory" (Gen 45:13). God promised to Solomon, ". . . riches and glory so that there will not be any like you all the days of your life" (1 Kgs 3:13). When Job lost his children, wealth, and health, he lamented, “He [God] has stripped me of my glory" (Job 19:9).
In our world, a display of glory would be the president presenting someone with the congressional medal of honor or someone receiving a gold medal after winning the mile run against the best runners in the world, while a band plays his national anthem. With respect to Christ, His glory is His intrinsic worth and majestic splendor . . . His power, His authority, His sinless perfection, His unchangeable nature, His love, His sovereign rule over all creation.
The glory or worth of Christ is something that is inherent in His person. He always possessed this glory in eternity past. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 includes a request, uttered to the Father, that He display the honor which Jesus had in eternity past. ”And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (Jn 17:5).
When God the Son was shrouded in flesh His heavenly glory was not visible to the human eye, but on a high mountain in Palestine, Peter, James, and John had the unimaginable privilege of seeing something of Christ’s divine glory. “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Mt 17:2). In the beginning of his gospel, John writes, “. . . and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
After His ascension into heaven, Christ again returned to the unveiled glory of His nature. He taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus, ”Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" (Lk 24:26).
The glory of Christ is essential to His person. Without divine glory, Christ is not God. It is the glory of Jesus that unbelievers are blind to. “. . . the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). Many unbelievers, especially in America, know about Christ. They know the stories of His birth in Bethlehem and of His death on the cross and of His resurrection. What they are blind to is His worth, splendor, beauty, majesty. His glory means nothing to the unbelieving mind and heart. Let us so pray, live, and speak, in God’s power, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
As amazing as it is that Jesus would possess infinite worth and indescribable splendor, the Bible makes a connection between Christians being ‘in Christ’ and His granting everlasting glory to us. Consider the following statements:
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col 3:4)
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess 2:13,14)
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (2 Tim 2:10)
It is not within our range of thought to fully imagine the meaning of the truth that we will “gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This does not mean that in heaven we will become divine. We will eternally be creatures, but having been given the righteous perfection of Christ. This is the basis for all our joy and hope.
Puritan theologian John Owen’s (1616-1683) prayer ought to be on our lips and in our hearts. “Blessed Jesus! we can add nothing to Thee, nothing to Thy glory; but it is a joy of heart to us that Thou art what Thou art, that Thou art so gloriously exalted at the right hand of God; and we long more fully and clearly to behold that glory, according to Thy prayer and promise.” (John Owen, The Glory of Christ, 130).