"Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself," (Luke 24:25-27)
The Lord after His resurrection drew near to two on the road to Emmaus. Their eyes were holden, and their countenance was sad as they communed one with another. At this time our Lord had not revealed Himself to them. But as He talked with them by the way He recited the words of our text and the subject of this certainly is the glory of Christ concerning Himself. His question was, first, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?" To the free willers, and those who know not the God of all power, the sufferings of Christ and His agonies on the cross, no doubt, are foolish. But to those that believe, this is the gospel, the power of God unto salvation, and glory to His Name that we are blessed to hear it. The sufferings of Christ will never fully be understood, even by His children in this lifetime. We await that glorious day to come for a full explanation of it. And though we see through a glass darkly, we know there was a "needs be" for His suffering. He suffered that we might live. He endured that He might pay the debt of our broken law. His sufferings were great and extensive and beyond the calculation of mortal man. His sufferings were with purpose and design, and every agony, trial and suffering He endured was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. In the infinite wisdom of the eternal Father, Jesus suffered exactly as the triune God had predestinated in the everlasting counsel. Not one suffering more, nor one suffering less than all God had before willed be accomplished. And may we ever praise His Name that He so suffered, that we might not. But He also said, besides His suffering, "Ought he not to have entered into his glory?" The glory of Christ is a richer theme than we might expect in casually reviewing it. His glory is His person and His very being. The glory of Christ is higher than the heavens, and a subject not lightly to be considered. "And the word was made 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." The beloved disciple John viewed Christ as the eternal Word, and said, first, that He was made flesh, establishing once and forever that Christ was eternally one with God, and partook of flesh and blood rather than having always been such. Being made flesh was His incarnation, or being born of the Virgin Mary, and divine wonder it was that God was manifested in the flesh, that He came from Heaven to this low ground of sin and sorrow to be one with man, and that man might be one with Him. Secondly, He dwelt among us. He occupied flesh and blood for over 33 years. During that time He manifested all of the holy characteristics of a sinless human nature. His dwelling, or tabernacling, among us was perfect in every way. He lived under the law and established it. He fulfilled every jot and tittle of it where His people must and do fail. And His keeping of the law, being made flesh for us, and dwelling among us, was not to satisfy Himself, but rather for His people that they might behold His glory, which is the third wondrous theme stated by John, "And we beheld His glory." It seems clear enough that the disciples only saw glimpses of His glory during His earthly ministry, for His glory was much vailed and obscure from their eyes and understanding. Oftentimes they would inquire of the simplest matters, and even on explanation they seemed to understand and see but little. Apparently and plainly from the Scriptures we know that this was because the Comforter had not yet been sent who was the revealer of all truth as it is in Christ. But, after Christ was nailed to the tree of the cross, and Divine judgment was passed upon Him, and He endured the utmost sufferings and agony in behalf of His chosen bride, there they could begin to behold much more of His glory. He suffered and died, the God Man, One with us. But it was not until after His resurrection and ascension that the Disciples could truly and thoroughly behold His glory.
So we might here ask, What is His glory? John said it this way, "The glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Yes, He was the only begotten of the Father. One may wonder what is meant by those words, "The only begotten" but the Scriptures are very clear and plain as to their meaning. In Acts 13 we find these words, "But God raised him from the dead, and he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (Acts 13:30-33) There can be no question that the Apostle Paul declared here that the fulfilling of the second Psalm where Jesus was declared to be God's Son, and that this day He had begotten Him was when He raised Him from the dead. He was the first begotten from the dead, and that was His glory, a glory such as no man had ever had before, a glory which was conferred upon Christ because His Father saw the travail of His soul and was satisfied, and passed upon Him once again the full essence of His Divinity and Holy Oneness which He had with the Father before His descent to this world, being made flesh and dwelling among us.
A text very similar to the one we used at the beginning is found in Philippians where we find this recorded, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:6-8) Truly, this was the sufferings of Christ. This was the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, and was in the fashion as a man, humbling Himself, even to the obedience of death; a death on the cross. But then in Verse 9 of this same chapter, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." Whereas the suffering was first, the exaltation, or the glory, was second. He suffered, and (then) He was glorified. Could words be clearer than what the Apostle wrote here? Affirming the very same thing was Peter in his first general Epistle, Chapter 1, Verse 11, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." Peter here interpreted the Old Testament scripture as testifying that Christ should first suffer, and that His glory should follow. His glory was not seen in His humanity, but His glory was seen in his humanity mingled with His Godhead as being resurrected from the dead with the glory that followed, and not that came before.
Another section of scripture which gives us much light on this subject of the sufferings and glory of Christ is in II Corinthians the third chapter where the Apostle writes of the distinction between a killing letter and a life giving spirit. He said that the ministration of death which was written and engraven in stones, was glorious, but the ministration of the Spirit was rather, or more glorious. And throughout these verses he contrasted the ministration of condemnation, although being glorious, was much more exceeded by the ministration of righteousness, exceeding in glory. And so when he said that which was done away was glorious, there was something remained that was more glorious, and concluded his testimony on this subject by saying, "But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Paul likens the believing saint to one who looks in a mirror. The mirror is the gospel. They look with an open face, or one that is unveiled, unlike Moses being veiled because of the glory he received when the law was given. But without a veil upon their face they view into the gospel, and they see there the glory of the Lord. But what kind of a mirror is it that one may look in and see an image so far differing and excelling than that which is sent to it? Were we to stand before a natural mirror it would portray before us the exact likeness or image of ourselves. But in the gospel glass or mirror, when blessed to look in it, we see that we have been changed. Old things have been made new; we have been predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's dear Son who was glorified. So looking in the gospel, and by faith believing, we see there the glory of the Lord in ourselves; not in our humanity but in that divine work that He has done for us, and in us. And so, as the Apostle says, we are changed, or transformed, into the same image. That image we see in the gospel mirror is the image of Christ, or Christ in us the hope of glory, and it changes us from glory, or the natural glory, to the glory of. Christ, the sublime, eternal, effulgent glory, and that by the Spirit of the Lord. Not by works which we have done but by His grace, which has been bestowed upon us to redeem us, to purify us, to cleanse us, to make us white; to cause us to stand before Him spotless and innocent as children made worthy for the Father.
"And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Revelation 21:22-23) Here as the humble Apostle closes the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he sees the temple, and there is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, and they are the Temple of this city which was come down from heaven as a Bride adorned for her husband. The city had no need of artificial light such as the sun or the moon, for it had a light which was the glory of God, and it did lighten it. One might ask again, What is that glory that lightens the city? The text reveals that, itself; "And the Lamb is the light thereof'. The Lamb of God is the glory of God, and the glory of God is the Lamb of God, and they are One. Jesus Christ is all the glory that we shall ever see of God. The Lamb of God is the greatest glory that sinners shall ever know, or behold, and He does lighten the city of God, and there we shall walk and live in the light of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. What more could a poor humble sinner ask for in this life than to have sweet hope of such a city as that when this life shall be no more.
In Jude 24 and 25, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." In these final verses of the book of Jude he says that God is able to keep us from falling. Oftentimes we fear we shall fall, and that dreadfully, and we wonder, is God willing? We know He is able, but is He willing to keep us from falling. We have never doubted that He is able, but oftentimes we wonder, shall He be willing? But if we are His, He shall keep us; that He might present us before the presence of His glory. And we might ask, What is the presence of His glory? The same as we read in Revelation, Jesus, the Lamb of God who sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and there with exceeding glory all of His children shall be gathered together. For as Matthew recorded, "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all of his holy angels with him;" when He comes in His glory and all of His holy angels, He'll gather together all the nations of this world, and separate them as sheep from goats. The sheep will be on the right hand and the goats on the left. Such glory it shall be for those who are called and chosen and redeemed. But as Jude closes these verses he says, "To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory". Coupled with glory he says, "and majesty, dominion and power," these four being attributes of God our Saviour. Jesus is our Saviour. God is our Saviour, and they are glorious, majestic, full of dominion and all powerful, both now and ever. Amen. And so may it be to the dear trembling saints who read these feeble words. There is a glory, the glory is found in the humanity of the Son of God, made glorious in His divine resurrection from the dead. Dying that we might live; living that we might not die. Setting at the right hand of the Father ever interceding, in all His glory and splendor, there to intercede in behalf of His little ones. Amen.
November - December 1988