Sunday, 26 January 2014

Beholding the Glory of Jesus

The apostle John informs his readers that he and his fellow disciples had the great privilege of beholding the glory of Jesus (John 1:14). What did he and they see? Here are some suggestions.
It was the glory of God that was seen. I think this is an important point to stress. We are used to the language of Christ veiling his glory when he became a man. And no doubt that is true. The disciples did not see the glory of God that appeared to Moses, for example. But the incarnation was also a means of revealing the glory of God in one sense while it hid it another. John is referring to a genuine, real observation of the glory of God.
It was the glory of God seen in a man. John is very blunt when he says that ‘the Word became flesh’. The word ‘flesh’ means human nature at its weakest. All flesh is like grass. The same idea may be present in the word translated ‘dwelt’ which literally means ‘pitched his tent ’, and as we know a tent is not a strong or robust thing. Glory in human terminology is normally associated with strength, say with heroes in war or with sportsmen who defeat their opponents. But John saw glory in a weak man. John tells us that Jesus was tired: he was tired at the well of Samaria, he was tired in the boat in the storm – but these incidents showed his glory
It was the glory of God seen in a humble man. Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:6-8 that Jesus was humble. The places where John saw Jesus’ glory was not in the halls of fame, not in the buildings of the significant, not at the banquets laid on by the prominent and the important. He did not have where to lay his head. Jesus’ glory was revealed on the hillside where he used the provisions of a poor boy to feed the hungry multitude, in little villages in talking to poor men and women and children, and in the temple courts where the common people gathered.
Leon Morris has summarised it well when he writes of Jesus: ‘When people needed help he helped them. Where they were sick he healed them. Where they were ignorant folk he taught them. Where there were hungry people he fed them. He was not found in the high places of the earth. All of his life he was among God’s little people, those who in way or another felt their need. And wherever there was need he was found doing lowly service. And that is glory.’
Remember it is also John who describes the incident in which Jesus stripped himself and put on a towel and washed his disciples’ feet. He did not have to do it; he could have asked Peter and John to do it. But it is glory when the One who did not have to do it did it.
It was the glory of God seen in a risen man. John closes his account of the life of Jesus with the incident of the risen Christ restoring Peter to his service. John here in verse 14 says that the Christ who revealed God revealed he was full of grace and truth. Throughout his life Jesus had shown grace and truth: to Nicodemus the pompous teacher who became his loyal follower when no-one else did; to the woman of Samaria who became an effective witness; and to may others. And after his resurrection he showed grace and truth to Peter who had denied him.

It was the glory of God seen in a man who was their friend. These disciples had lived with him for three years. He had called them his friends. In John 1 we are told of how the friendship began. He entered into their lives and changed them. As they watched him, listened to him, and followed him their lives too were changed.

Today is a good day to see his glory.

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