Isa 43:1-7 ESV
Ps 8: 1-9 ESV
2 Cor 3:7 – 18 ESV
John 1:1-14 ESV
As a depressed teenager, especially when on alcohol, I was driven almost to the point of insanity about why I existed. I had no sense of being created to reflect the splendour of the glory of God and to display the overwhelming weight or worth of God’s character. An experience of God’s glory changes people forever.
Abraham was able to take his beloved son Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him at God’s command because the glory of God had appeared to him. Moses became the leader of Israel because he saw the glory of God in the burning bush (Ex 3: 1-22 ESV).
The prophets faithfully brought the word of the Lord to a rebellious nation because they first had insights into the glory.
When Christ turned water into wine we’re told, “This…was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And [so that] his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11 ESV).
The glory revealed in the blinding light that shone on Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3 ESV) converted him from a terrorist into Christ’s apostle Paul.
We were created and it is encountering with the glory which makes us more like God. see it or not, glory is everywhere.
Made for Glory
Since the psalmists testify, “the skies declare the glory of God” and humans have been crowned “with glory and honour” (Ps 19:1; Ps 8:5 ESV) all of us we were born under a canopy of God’s glory and encounter the glory in every other person.
So when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sri Lanka exhorted the government to punish terrorists “mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that” his curses (James 3:9 ESV) effectively he denied these truths and that Christ died for the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15 ESV). To understand what Jesus has redeemed we must first come to terms with the gravity of what we have lost.
Losing the Glory
When a baby is born it’s natural for people to say, “s/he looks like his/her mother/father.”
When God first looked at humans made in his likeness and glory he saw the reflection of his own grandeur and it gave him tremendous joy (Prov 8:22-31 ESV).
Adam and Eve were radiant with the glory of God as they walked in love, peace, joy and dignity with God and creation (cf. 1 Cor 11:7 ESV). Then when the serpent tempted Eve humans effectively said to God, “We don’t want you as our heavenly dad, we want the freedom to be like the serpent.” (cf. John 8:44 ESV).
Paul says of all those who have fallen short away from the splendour of the Lord, vs.22 “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, vs.23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom 1:22-23 ESV).
To one degree or other, every Australian has exchanged the glory of God for idols like happy families, financial security, ecstatic experiences, entertainment, sport, sexual identity, nice houses, pleasant churches and so on.
“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 ESV), can sound like abstract theology, but the cost of our despising God’s magnificence is horribly clear when you visit a nursing home full of dribbling people, a neo-natal ward where little babies are dying, a psychiatric institution where a parishioner tells you he is Jesus, have a friend with terminal cancer before their time, witness a marriage breakdown, know someone who commits suicide or take a funeral of a 12 year old murdered by a teenager in cold blood.
Made for the indescribable glory of godliness fallen humanity is crippled by shame and enslaved through the power of sin, Satan and death (Heb 2:14-15 ESV). This is a tragedy so profound that it can only be remedied by “the Father of glory” (Eph 1:17 ESV) and only at the cost of his own Son.
From the foundation of the world the Father’s plan was to share with us the glory seen “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6 ESV), unlike the glory Adam lost but an incorruptible glory that can never perish because it is a glory built through sacrifice.
At the start of his Gospel John summarises its message, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ESV).
Jesus is the visible glory of the invisible God (Col 1:15 ESV).
His teaching, his power to cast out demons and do miracles and heal astounded people so that they spontaneously glorified God.
But none of these great marvels could permanently deliver disabled humanity from the curse of sin, Satan and death.
Only a limitless concentration of God’s glory on behalf of others could do this-this.
The death and resurrection of Jesus transfers of glory from him to us by a wonderful exchange
But the cost of this marvellous exchange is incalculable.
Listen to Jesus praying on his way to the cross, vs.27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I have come to this hour.vs.28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28 ESV).
Jesus groans in distress for he knows that in, going to the cross he will be stripped of God’s glory there, but he also understands this suffering is so that in resurrection his fragile humanity might be clothed in indestructible glory.
He yields his fears and frailties to the Father so that we might share in this glory (2 Cor 8:9 ESV).
True glory, God’s glory is always for others.
To the natural eye, there is no dazzling splendour or weightiness of God’s presence in the weak broken bleeding man on the cross. But the resurrection (Rom 6:4 ESV) unveils the secret that eternal glory is a crucified glory.
The weightiness of Christ’s life is that in sacrificial love gives up everything that God might be glorified. Stripped of all temporal glories Jesus became for us the eternal glory of God in human form (1 Tim 3:16 ESV).
That the glory for which the world was made is the wonder of Christ crucified and raised i.e. the gospel (2 Cor 4:4 ESV), irresistibly moved the writers of scripture to exclaim in doxology again and again, “To God…our Saviour….be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”.
This is what everything is all about. This is why I forbade our Bible study the other week to pray about health, finances, family, or workplace issues, so that we might concentrate on a prayer from 1 Peter that cannot fail to be answered, “…that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV).
This is a request that God reveals himself as the God of Jesus through all we think, say and do.
This is the meaning of life, the universe and everything but this grand truth needs some further exposition.
The educated consensus back in the ’70s was Anzac Day would die out with the passing of WW II veterans was a grossly mistaken expectation.
The expectation of Sri Lankan terrorists that they can mortally wound the Church is a fatal error.
The most profound truth of the universe is that when someone willingly suffers for a cause higher than themselves, suffers for the sake of others, exceptional glory is revealed.
True glory is a wounded glory, we know it is a crucified glory (1 Cor 2:8 ESV).
As Paul testifies, “Through suffering, we always carry around in our bodies the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies…this shows the all-surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor 4:10-11, 7 ESV). I have preached this truth here on Good Friday and last Sunday night.
In the flesh we may be inadequate but when in Christ we yield our limitations to God for his glory everything changes.
When my previously depressed, alcoholic friend became a paraplegic but surrendered all to Jesus and began radiating his love to all around her, when through his disabling stroke Chris turned with his whole heart to the Lord Christ’s presence turned him into a street preacher, when I handed over to the Lord my apparent inability to enjoy undisturbed sleep I discovered a new level of dependence on God in prayer.
Each of us entered into a deeper measure of the mystery of Christ for manifestations of glory are manifestations of crucified glory.
Whenever we yield the wounds and weariness of life up to God for his glory something of Jesus life is infallibly communicated through us to others.
In the flesh we are inadequate but when in Christ we yield our limitations to God for his glory everything changes. “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col 1:27 ESV) says, Paul.
There is untold compassion, love, mercy, energy, salvation and healing…in the crucified and glorified Christ in us that God wants to release for others.
Whether you have a heart for families in Ashfield to know Jesus, for children and mothers to know the Lord through Mainly Music, the people of Bassendean, and beyond, to find God through BGT, Coffee and Chat, Contemplation and Conversation, the Gospellers, Men’s Breakfast, MU, music ministry, youth meeting, Godly Play, the Bible studies and Sunday services, the mystery/key to the healing and restoring manifestation of Jesus’ life is crucified glory.
It’s not our feelings of fear, weakness and inadequacy that stop the manifestation of the healing and saving glory of God through us.
What stops St Mark’s people doing what God wants us to do in the power of Christ is our failure to hand over to Jesus all that holds us back. I’ll tell you what I think the Lord is saying about us and you can test it with him in prayer (1 Thess 5:19-20 ESV).
God is hiding his glory in the dark tomb of our guilt, defeats, desolations, shames, anxieties and confusions, waiting until we hand them all over to him so that the resurrection glory of Jesus might shine forth in our midst.
Without the surrendering of our lives like this St Marks as we know it has no viable future. (The status quo is unsustainable.) But everything will change if in our deepest hearts we unite in the prayer of Paul; “to him (God) be glory in the church/(in St Mark’s) and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:21 ESV)
MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 4th May 2019 Location: St Marks Bassendean
Author: Dr. John Yates
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