The Glory of Jesus Christ
I Corinthians 1:4-8
“Which none of the princes of this world knew, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (I Corinthians 2:8).
Introduction: These words that we have just read together contain one of the most descriptive titles of the Lord Jesus to be found in all the Word of God, namely, “the Lord of Glory.” On only two occasions do we find Him thus described in the New Testament.
In the portion of the Word read, these words are seen in relation to the Lord’s rejection by the rulers of this age. In this regard, we read of the spiritual blindness of those who were reputedly “the wise of this world,” that is, wise in their own estimation, yet completely ignorant of the “hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages unto our Glory.” Had they known it they would not have crucified the “Lord of Glory.”
How paradoxical it all is! At the beginning of His Ministry the Lord Jesus came to His own – to His own world – the world that His Hands had made, and His own people, the chosen and privileged race receive Him not (John 1:1-12). At the conclusion of His earthly ministry, Pilate the judge examined the Lord Jesus, then brought Him forth to the people and said, “behold I bring Him forth to you that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.” “Behold your king.” In answer, the people cried out: “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him.”
These are remarkable words: “They crucified the Lord of Glory.” Three times in the Gospel of John we read of those who were given the inestimable privilege of beholding His Glory, and each contemplation of His Glory refers to a different period of time. In John 12:41, we read, “These things saith Isaiah when he saw His Glory,” referring to an occasion some seven or more hundred years before the Advent of the Lord Jesus to this world. Then He was seen seated upon His throne, “high and lifted up.” The glory seen on that occasion, as described by the prophet was His pristine glory.
I. A Glory that was Eternally and Essentially His. Two things in particular stand out with regard to the Lord’s glory as witnessed by Isaiah.
First, the majesty of the person seen. The glory that Isaiah saw was His pristine glory; the glory that was His in an eternity past, or what we might term that essential, incommunicable glory which is His alone; a glory that neither man nor angel can share. When the prophet “saw the Lord high and lifted up and seated upon a throne,” the glory upon which he gazed was and is “the brightness of the effulgence of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). Think of Calvary in the light of these words: “They crucified the Lord of glory.”
Second, The intrinsic holiness of Christ. John the apostle tells us in chapter 12 of his gospel, “These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” John tells us that Isaiah saw Christ’s glory as He sat upon His throne “high and lifted up” and the description of that experience as given in Isaiah chapter 6:1. We can imagine the awe that must have filled the prophet’s being as he listened to the testimony of the seraphim to the absolute Holiness of Christ, as one cried to another “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Isaiah 6:3). What unsullied holiness Isaiah was permitted to see, in other words, Holiness personified.
Speaking anticipatively of the work of redemption, the Lord Jesus said in His High Priestly prayer, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do, glorify me with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). So it was just for a little time that the Lord Jesus divested Himself of that glory that he had with the Father, that is, the outward manifestation of that glory that was His from all eternity. But having finished the work of redemption, he entered anew into the full splendor and magnificence of that glory. In redeeming us, He descended from the heights of glory and the majesty of the throne. The Lord Jesus stooped to take the form of a servant and the likeness of men, and in that, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Only as we can appreciate something of His eternal greatness, sitting upon His Throne “High and lifted up,” can we appreciate the depths to which He descended for us, when He died the death of the cross.
And only as we can appreciate in some measure His intrinsic Holiness as heralded by the seraphim when they cried in worship to Him, “Holy, Holy, Holy . . .” can we appreciate in any measure the words of Isaiah 53:6, “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” How much it must have cost the Holy One to bear away our sin? “For God hath made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
II. His Moral Glory. As seen in perfect manhood.
The gospel of John begins with these majestic words, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The words speak of the preexistence, the distinct personality and the absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus.
Then there follow the words in John 1 and verse 14, “And the Word 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.”
The Lord Jesus became flesh in the truest sense of the word, the humanity of the Lord was real and sinless. He was holy and undefiled. He did not cease to be God when He became man; the Divine and the human were harmoniously blended in one person. It is true that the glory of His Deity was largely veiled by His humanity, but there was a glory that could not be hid. I refer to His moral glory, it showed forth for all to see in the outworkings of everyday life. To this the disciples gave testimony, saying “we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” There was a special balance in His life, speech and conduct; mercy and judgment blended in all his actions. Exact truth and infinite love adorned each other in all His attractive personality. He was and is “the altogether lovely one,” full of “grace and truth.”
Acknowledged by persons representing different spheres, as Divinely perfect. Let us listen to the different voices attesting to his absolute perfection.
1 The testimony of the military world as represented by the centurion at the foot of the cross: “Certainly, this was a righteous man.”
2nd The testimony of the criminal world as the dying thief said: “This man hath done nothing amiss.”
3rd The testimony of the judicial world as represented by Pilate the judge: “I find no fault in this man.”
4th The testimony of the infernal world as the unclean spirit cried out: “Let us alone, I know who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
5 The testimony of the Heavenly Father as He spoke from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
And this is the measure of our acceptance before God: “To the praise of the glory of His grace; there which He has made us accepted in the beloved.”
III. Official and Acquired Glory. This we shall share.
We have already observed that His pristine glory, that glory that He had with the Father before the world was – was and is something that is exclusively His, something essentially and eternally His. This glory no one shall share, it is His and His alone; and yet we shall see that glory. Are we not told that “we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2)?
However, His acquired glory we shall share, that is the glory that the Father has given Him as Redeemer, as Shepherd, as High Priest and Lord of Lords. This we shall share. Listen to the Lord Jesus as He speaks to His Father in John 17:24, “And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given them.”
The church that Christ loved and gave Himself for, and which He washed and sanctified, He will present to Himself a church not having wrinkle or any such thing. And on the day of Christ’s public appearing to this world the church will be manifested with Him in glory (Ephesians 5:26-27).
Essential Glory. As we have noticed this was laid aside for a little time in order that, we, through His substitutionary death and the efficacy of His shed blood might be made the righteous of God in Him.
Moral glory was displayed in all its perfection so that we should know that Christ, though the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God (Hebrews 10:14).
Acquired Glory. This He will share with the redeemed for ever and ever. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).