Dan 12:1-4 | Ps 73:11-26 | 1 Cor 15:35-49 | John 12:22-33
This is the final sermon in the series “Sharing in Christ”.
In the first episode I argued that Jesus was as limited in his humanity as each of us; with the great exception that he never sinned (Heb 4:15 ESV).
Then last week we looked at the limitless sufferings of God in Christ, how suffering tested Jesus own heart as part of the plan of God for him to win everlasting victory over all the powers of evil (Col 2:15 ESV).
The Bible calls the final triumphant state into which Jesus has entered his “glory”1)Luke 24:26 ESV; 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Col 1:27 ESV; Tit 2:13 ESV; James 2:1 ESV.
“Glorification” is the ultimate motivation for life itself.
The words for “Glory” appears 100’s of times in scripture and it is so foundation to faith I once designed a course around it.
Someone I ran into this week started to talk with me about how she couldn’t understand some recent celebrity suicides (Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain); the point is if you’re not living for something greater than yourself life can become quite tremendously boring.
I was a mentally tormented young person until I met Jesus and found out why the reason for existence. But today’s enormous rates of depression, anxiety etc. will keep climbing until we have a visitation of “glory” that flows from the Church into the nation (Matt 5:13-16 ESV).
Such revivals often come suddenly but they cannot happen without Christians being freed from corrupt perceptions about God’s motives. I remember as a young believer listening to a preacher telling us that God created the world “because he was lonely”.
This man knew nothing in his heart of the power of Jesus’ words in John 17:5 ESV, ““Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed””.
Jesus and the Father always loved one another, and it is through our enjoying their relationship that the power of glory comes into our lives (Eph 3:21 ESV). “Glory” is intensely relational.
Whist the major biblical words to do with “glory” (O.T. kabod ; N.T. doxa) do convey the idea of a shining forth of God’s great character e.g. Ps. 19:1 ESV; Ps. 24:7-10 ESV the Lord didn’t create the universe ultimate as a spectacular “show and tell”.
He made it to fill all things to overflowing with the love, joy, peace, holiness etc. which he enjoys in himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit2)Ps 72:19 ESV; Isa 6:3 ESV; Isa 11:9 ESV; Hab 2:14 ESV; Rev 21:11 ESV.
Sadly, such things are far from obvious because sin has robbed humanity of the glory of God.
The first sinner is the devil and his core sin was a desire to be like “the Most High”, not through sharing in God’s glory but by means of his own glory3)Isa 14:14 ESV cf. Ezek 28:2, 6, 9 ESV. Pride sees itself before it sees God (Ezek 28:17 ESV) and if it does see God it sees only a corrupted image, an idol, as a means to its own selfish ends. Jealous of his own glory and seeking to rob God of his4)Isa 42:8 ESV; Isa 48:11 ESV the devil offered to Adam and Eve a deathless way of “becoming like God” (Gen 3:4-5 ESV).
Submitting to temptation human beings turned in on themselves as the primary object of their affections; people love themselves more than they love God.
Sin is loving, enjoying and valuing yourself about your Creator (cf. Rom 1:23 ESV). This is what it means to lose “the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 ESV), to lose a sharing in the infinite love, joy, peace, holiness…that has been going on between the Father and the Son forever.
Shameless self-glorying has become an epidemic in our culture.
The couple that plunged over a cliff to their death in Portugal this week through taking a “selfie” are part of a generation of narcissists addicted to social media.
Apart from a supernatural move of God this drive to self-glorify is unstoppable.
We shouldn’t however think this is exclusively a younger generation problem. Every time we make a significant decision about our time, money, talents, relationships etc. without wanting to share that life direction with the Lord we rob God of his glory (1 Cor 6:19-20 ESV).
But the Lord’s desire to share his glory with humanity is far from being frustrated. I was in a prayer meeting during the week and someone mentioned the old Latin phrase, O felix culpa. It roughly means “O happy fault”, it means that because of sin God’s glorious plan of salvation will lift humanity higher than the original creation.
Paul pronounces, “a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory”; this wisdom hinges on the crucifixion of “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:7-8 ESV).
God’s great saving plan was unfathomable to lost human beings it’s a part of a divine nature5)Rom 16:25 ESV; Eph 3:9 ESV; Col 1:26 ESV totally different from us and our natural expectations about the divine character.
The Father will “bring many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:9-10 ESV) not by a massive power display but through releasing a glory in the weakness, suffering and death of his only beloved Son (John 3:16 ESV).
Unlike us Jesus was more aware of the Father than he was of himself; to be one with the Father was his glory (John 17:22 ESV).
To hear the Father speaking through his voice, to see the Father healing through his hands was Jesus’ great delight and joy6)John 14:10 ESV; John 17:8 ESV.
He never needed to “speak himself up” because as he said, “It is my Father who glorifies me” (John 8:54 ESV). And his great prayer for us was that we share his relationship with the Father; “Father, I desire that they…may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”7)John 17:24 ESV cf. John 17:5 ESV.
For such a glory to come to sinners Jesus himself will have to die the gloryless death we all deserve.
This is a prospect which torments his deepest being; ““Now is my soul troubled.” (John 12:27 ESV) he says but goes on to ask the Father to glorify his name through a death that meant exclusion from everything he valued (John 12:33 ESV).
In going to the cross to bearing the consequences of our self-centredness it will feel to Jesus as if the Father has turned his face away8)Ps 22:24 ESV cf. Isa 59:2 ESV; Isa 64:7 ESV.
His experience will be that he is no longer the Father’s perfect delight and joy (Luke 3:22 ESV).
Bearing our sin, the Son will feel utterly unable to commune with and communicate the character of the Father to the world (Mark 15:34 ESV).
This is his hell, but it is our glory.
As Jesus in the midst of his experience of forsakenness turns his heart, soul, mind and strength in love towards the Father (cf. Matt 23:37 ESV) and cries out to heaven he glorifies God in our place.
The supreme agony of the cross is the place where in God’s plan our human mediator reverse, atones for/covers over (atoning for) our wicked turning in on ourselves. Christ’s death cry is no like that of others, ““Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”” (Luke 23:46 ESV) shows that Son is glorifying the Father even in his last breath.
No wonder Jesus was “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father”9)Rom 6:4 ESV cf. Eph 1:17 ESV.
Since Jesus lives to glorify God he is still working to bring men and women to salvation through the gospel. His final glorification, and ours, will arrive only at the Second Coming when Jesus establishes the Lordship of his Father over all things10)1 Cor 15:24-28 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV.
Then the love and oneness between Father and Son will fill and glorify all created things11)John 17:22-26 ESV; Eph 1:22 ESV.
What does this great plan mean for us?
The gospel brings “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6 ESV).
This is the glory being perfectly conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29 ESV) in his character and communion with the Father12)Phil 3:21 ESV; 1 John 3:2 ESV.
In eternity nothing good will be withheld from us (Ps 84:11 ESV).
Whilst the intensity of this eternal transformation presently unfathomable C.S. Lewis made a memorable attempt; “…. the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption…you now meet…only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations….it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. x2”
Just as Jesus promised that we would share his glory with the Father (John 17:20-26 ESV) he also warned that at the Judgement he would say to many who claimed his acquaintance, “‘I never knew you’”13)Matt 7:23 ESV cf. Dan 12:2 ESV.
The absolute glory of God’s children will be matched by the absolute dishonouring of those who rejected the gospel offer of eternal life.
In the meantime, before heaven and hell, God is preparing us for glory (Rom 9:23 ESV).
How is he doing that? In the exact same way as he prepared his Son, working through our weak frail humanity to cause us to be totally dependent on him in the struggles and trials of daily life. outwardly small, or large, as these tribulations might be within them they contain one grand purpose.
A purpose seen only in the Spirit, educated through the Bible and shared in the fellowship of God’s people, to make us like Christ.
This is a purpose he readily reveals to his people. Our 2-year-old granddaughter Elise has learned to sing Que Sera Sera “What will I be Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?”, a bit like something shared with me during the week when someone said as a little girl she desired to be famous.
The future is ours to see, and that future is Jesus Christ in the glory of the new creation14)Rev. 21:1 ESV ff cf. 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV.
God’s great purpose in creation was to “bring many sons to glory” through the suffering of his own Son (Heb 2:10 ESV).
Why are persecuted and downtrodden Christians so full of the Spirit of God, possessing such intense joy in the Lord, it’s because suffering with Jesus15)Rom 8:17 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV; 2 Cor 4:7-12 ESV they’ve been turned inside out, instead of thinking of themselves, in praise or put down, they see who they are becoming in Christ.
And this is inexpressibly wonderful.
The humanity and suffering of Jesus testifies to all that God is no like us, not selfish but other centred and that the goal of each of our lives is to bring others to their true destiny in Christ and to do whatever we can in the here and now to help them grow in that glory. This is the mission and reason for the Church.
When Donna and I were in the art gallery the other day someone started to talk to me about the mess in the world, this mess, and it will get worse in our culture is directly caused by the sin of seeking personal glory instead of the glory of the one true God revealed in Jesus Christ16)John 12:43 ESV; John 17:3 ESV; Rom 2:7 ESV.
Will you seek his glory; will we identify with Christ the Glorifier of all?
Will we share his prayer, ““Father, glorify your name?”” (John 12:28 ESV).
Whatever the consequences whatever the cost they are “not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us” which is Jesus17)Rom 8:18 ESV; Gal 1:16 ESV.
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 17. June, 2018 Location: St Marks
Author: Dr. John Yates
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Luke 24:26 ESV; 2 Cor 4:6 ESV; Col 1:27 ESV; Tit 2:13 ESV; James 2:1 ESV|
|2.||↑||Ps 72:19 ESV; Isa 6:3 ESV; Isa 11:9 ESV; Hab 2:14 ESV; Rev 21:11 ESV|
|3.||↑||Isa 14:14 ESV cf. Ezek 28:2, 6, 9 ESV|
|4.||↑||Isa 42:8 ESV; Isa 48:11 ESV|
|5.||↑||Rom 16:25 ESV; Eph 3:9 ESV; Col 1:26 ESV|
|6.||↑||John 14:10 ESV; John 17:8 ESV|
|7.||↑||John 17:24 ESV cf. John 17:5 ESV|
|8.||↑||Ps 22:24 ESV cf. Isa 59:2 ESV; Isa 64:7 ESV|
|9.||↑||Rom 6:4 ESV cf. Eph 1:17 ESV|
|10.||↑||1 Cor 15:24-28 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV|
|11.||↑||John 17:22-26 ESV; Eph 1:22 ESV|
|12.||↑||Phil 3:21 ESV; 1 John 3:2 ESV|
|13.||↑||Matt 7:23 ESV cf. Dan 12:2 ESV|
|14.||↑||Rev. 21:1 ESV ff cf. 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV|
|15.||↑||Rom 8:17 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV; 2 Cor 4:7-12 ESV|
|16.||↑||John 12:43 ESV; John 17:3 ESV; Rom 2:7 ESV|
|17.||↑||Rom 8:18 ESV; Gal 1:16 ESV|