The Glory of Christ

by Dudley Ross Spears

     The glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is vastly beyond the limits of human mental ability to fully comprehend. Should we have the power to do so our ability to express it would be inadequate. Glory associated with Christ Jesus is the honor and esteem in which He is held before, during, and after time is. Even when time ceases, Jesus Christ will ever be "the Lord of glory."

     Glory signifies the honor bestowed upon someone or something that results from a good opinion. When it applies to deity, it is a comprehensive term. Hermann Cremer wrote: "(It) signifies 'the august contents of God's own entire nature, embracing the aggregate of all His attributes according to their undivided yet revealed fullness.' (Umbreit, die Sunde, page 99), or which embraces all that is excellent in the divine nature." Biblio-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament Greek, page 206.

     The glory of deity can only be comprehended as it is manifested. God's glory has been manifested in different ways, but the fullness of His glory was manifested in Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer said, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through also He made the world, and He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:1-3, NASB). Not only has God spoken through the Son; God has been manifested as the glory of God in the Son.

     John's prolog to his gospel record of Christ begins by revealing, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-2). "The Word," John continues, " became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (verse 14). John's reference to the glory beheld is done in such a manner as to recognize this glory as unique to the Word that became flesh. No other being ever became flesh like the Word. No other being could possess the glory beheld in the Word who became flesh.

     This Word is Jesus Christ who entered all that pertains to humanity and mortality. And much later the same apostle wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life -- the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us -- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3). Here again the uniqueness of our Lord Jesus Christ is highlighted. No other could be so described.

     But His glory was partially laid aside when He became flesh. If you consider the entire existence of Jesus, the only Son of God, His earthly tour was the lowest point of His entire being. For as Paul wrote, "who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation (emptied Himself, ASV, NASB), taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Of no other being in the flesh could it be truthfully said, "He was equal with God." Only the "only begotten Son" of the Father could fit such a reverent expression.

     The glory which the Son enjoyed as equal with God was partially laid aside briefly, as He became a flesh and blood man. Once more from Hermann Cremer it is good to note: "Christ declined by His own perfect power to give effect to, or by force to demonstrate, that EINAI ISA THEO (equality with God) that belonged to Him in virtue of His MORPHE THEOU (form of God)." (page 353). This is a reverent way of describing what Christ did when He "emptied Himself." He did not lose His basic essence -- deity, for He simply could not. He could, however, shun the manifestation of His glory for a brief time. Like the eclipse of the sun, Jesus glory went briefly from view, but remained as remarkably glorious as ever. The innkeeper saw nothing unusual in a baby that was being born in his stables. The People of Nazareth were not conscious of His innate deity. The Doctors at Jerusalem may have thought of Him as a rather bright lad, but likely not much more.

     Even though the human form of Christ was not something to be admired, for He was "as a root out of dry ground" with no (stately) form or splendor." Rather, "He was despised and rejected by men..." (Isa. 53:2-3). But all the time He lived among men, He was their Lord and Savior. He was among them and like them, but He was always more. He was the promised Messiah, the Christ, their King, Prophet, and Priest. They refused Him. He came to His very own and they rejected Him (John 1:11). They crucified Him simply because they did not recognize Him as "the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:8). Jesus was, is, and ever shall be the very same Lord of glory.

     He demonstrated repeatedly His uniqueness even when His glory was temporarily obscured by His human form. He demonstrated power over nature in turning water to wine (John 2:7-11). His power over the unseen world of departed spirits was manifested when with just a word He summoned Lazareth from death to the life again (John 11:43). He demonstrated His power over all ordinary men by His ability to accurately read deep into the recesses of men's hearts (Matt. 9:4). He needed not that any should inform Him of man, for "He (and He alone among ordinary men) knew what was in man" (John 2:25). He repeatedly accepted worship from mere men (Matt. 2:2; 8:2; 9:18; 20:20). Even ordinary men who were recipients of the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit shunned worship from other ordinary men -- but not the Lord of Glory. This forever sets Him apart from all other beings who ever appeared in the flesh.

     The greatest eclipse of His glory was seen in His association with sinful mortals. He lived His entire life from the cradle to the resurrection with not a single blemish on His record. But this cannot be said of any other being in the flesh. It was humiliation of the deepest dye to submit to the cruelty and brutality of sinful men, yet "He was numbered with transgressors" (Matt. 27:54).

     The glory of Christ was covered only briefly but never diminished by even a slight degree. When he "emptied himself" (Phil. 2:6) his glory was merely covered by his humanity. His prayer to the Father expressed His single desire. "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John 17:5). This glory is the ultimate expression of God's essential being. It was this "expression" that Jesus seldom manifested. Again, the glory of God is the grand substance of God's own entire nature, and embodies "the aggregate of all His attributes according to their undivided yet revealed fullness." How fitting it is for Paul to write of the mystery of godliness as, "God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).

     The mystery of godliness has been revealed, but there is still a bit of mystery about what has been revealed, for it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, much less describe, the ineffable glory of Christ. It is enough for us to be impressed so deeply with it that we follow His steps obediently, reverently, and completely.

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