Glory to God! Part 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel

December 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

God had indeed promised deliverance; he had indeed promised his glory would be revealed. But the most important part was the fact that this promise was a Someone. 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
          to us a son is given;
 and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
          and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
          Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
          there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
          to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
          from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

And so it at last came to pass—in the fullness of time.

“ ‘…She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh….” (John 1:1, 14)

Jesus laid aside his glory as God—and the personal, experiential joy that went along with that glory. He humbled himself to be born, to live in our world—and then to die. Yet the Scriptures tell us that he “endured the cross, despising its shame” because he knew he would return to the glory that he had left. We know it by his prayers:

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:1-5).

But it isn’t merely that Jesus looked only for his own restoration to the joy of God’s glory; it was by the cross that he would bring with him all those whom the Father had given him to join with him in sharing in that glory and its joy:

“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves….Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, 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. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:13, 24-26)

This was precisely why he came into the world: to make known the name of the Father to the children, to redeem the children from their sins—and then to return them to the Father to enter into his glory.

Of course, we know this in the glorious reality of God-revealed hindsight. We know not only the story but the “why” behind it. But “for a thousand years the dreamers dreamt/and hoped to see his love” (Michael Card, “The Promise”).  How suddenly it would all come into focus; how suddenly it would all forever change—with the cry of a baby.

As His mother held Him closely it was hard to understand
That her baby, not yet speaking, was the Word of God to man.
He would tell them of His kingdom, but their hearts would not believe.
They would hate Him and in anger they would nail Him to a tree.
            —Bob Kauflin, “In the First Light”

Could Mary have truly perceived that her baby was the “Word of God to man”? How could she have possible engaged with the fact that her son was her Maker? When she and Joseph sat with the family to give thanks—did they find themselves slowly turning their faces to look at him, sitting there at their table? When they went with him to Jerusalem for the Passover—what went through their minds as the lambs were slaughtered? Did they have any idea of the suffering that he would face?

Even if Mary could not have known what awaited the Son given her—he did. Even then, that helpless babe in the manger who at one and the same time was upholding the universe by the word of his power—even then, he knew.

What Child is this, Who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through; the cross be borne for me, for you:
Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh; come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high, the virgin sings her lullaby:
Joy, joy for Christ is born, the Babe, the Son of Mary.
           —William Chatterton Dix

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