Beholding His Glory
By Mary Kroeger
"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." (John 1:14) What an interesting verse! Before the Word of God became flesh, we had no true knowledge of God. The invisible realm of His being was not accessible to us because we lacked the ability to see it. It needed to be revealed to us!
To bring us a revelation of His being, He sent His Word in the form of sinful flesh, to bring light into our darkness. His outward form did not reveal His true being. The fact that "He (Christ) is the radiance of His (God's) glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3), is hidden to carnal understanding. Therefore it has to be revealed to us. Without this revelation we are ignorant of the wonderful message He Himself is for us! He is beyond our imagination!
John, along with other disciples, saw the glory of Jesus Christ! What did this glory look like? How was it manifested in Christ? When Jesus walked the streets of Nazareth, He looked like other human beings. Outwardly, there was nothing that would distinguish Him as being more than an ordinary man. Yet John saw glory!
What did John mean by "glory"? The dictionary tells us that "Glory is the praise, honor or distinction that is extended to someone by common consent; renown." This is the glory humanity gives to those who have excelled beyond expectation in some way or another. Humanity can even use self-effort to give the appearance of something in the spiritual realm that is worthy of glory. Did John refer to an outward glory that can be achieved through self-effort? By good works? How can we differentiate between the glory man can achieve, and the glory of God that can be seen in man?
It is interesting to note that John was careful to specify the type of glory that he saw. It was "the glory of the only begotten of the Father". This glory was not rooted in self-effort or in outward appearance. It did not exist in a form that could be seen with physical eyes. Its source was in the very essence of the Father - in being the only begotten of the Father! What a surprise to find that this essence consists of grace and truth - not anger and condemnation!
Grace and truth were unknown to this world before Christ came. Every culture has its religious laws, dogmas and rituals that have to be observed. Every act of disobedience has consequences! Laws are completely ignorant of the meaning of grace! Grace cannot be earned! Grace does not allow us to point to self and say that we deserve grace because of something we have done. Something earned or merited, is not grace! Grace cannot be manufactured. It can only come to us in Christ!
The very essence of Christ's being is truth! Jesus said, "I am the truth." Lies cannot exist in truth! Just as a little poison added to a glass of pure water, poisons the whole glass of water, so a little lie added to a word of truth pollutes the truth and changes it into a lie.
The truth came by Jesus Christ. Without truth, the lie remained hidden. If we do not believe the truth, the lie continues to function as our truth. We then remain in the darkness and death of the lie. Only truth can resurrect us into life!
John had come to realize humanity's need of a Savior! His spiritual eyes were opened to receive revelation! Not only did he see humanity's need, but he saw what was hidden by the flesh of Jesus. Beyond Christ's veil of flesh, John saw the fullness of grace and truth! He also saw the glory inherent in the grace and truth that Christ is! Christ does not have a measure of grace and truth; He IS grace and truth! Since He always IS, there can be no shortage of grace in Him! God wants us to get a glimpse of the magnitude of His glory in the love, truth and grace that He is! Learning to know the Father in Christ will reveal His glory to us!
Christ's prayer in John 17 is very amazing in its revelation of unity and glory! Among many wonderful things that He prayed, He said, "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (v. 5) Notice the togetherness with the Father that Jesus emphasized! There was no glory for Him apart from the Father! Even before the world was, He enjoyed glory in togetherness with the Father!
There never was a time when this oneness did not exist! This oneness continued when He came to unveil the Father to us. His obedience was so perfect that He only did what the Father showed Him to do!
Even on the cross, there was oneness! In 2 Cor. 5:19 we read that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself." There is no glory in separation from God! In separation we just see the flesh personified by its sinful and prideful deeds. All true glory has its source in the Father - in the love and goodness that He is!
Christ's prayer emphasized this oneness with the Father. His glory depended on, and was resident in His oneness with the Father! This is a oneness of being and thinking that results in oneness in doing! Since all things were created by Christ Jesus, and through Him and for Him, we get a little inkling of the glory of that oneness!
As we continue to reflect on the exceeding greatness of the glory that resides in oneness with the Father, we marvel at this glory that He gives us! It is the same glory that He gives to Christ! It is ours in the oneness that Christ and the Father have! In Christ we have oneness with the Father! This is a mystery! Christ in us is our hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
As we continue reading we are surprised that Jesus prayed, "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them." (v. 22) Wow! This is hard to believe! Christ gives us who believe the same glory He received from the Father! As we meditate on this good news, we realize that actually there is no other lasting glory! All true glory has its source in God's goodness, and it cannot be separated from Him!
God's goodness gives us such a fantastic picture of His grace! By His grace we are saved, by His grace we are kept, and by His grace He bestows His glory on us! Since it is ALL His grace, we realize that we do not deserve any credit!
So what is God's purpose in all this? The answer is, "That they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity." To be perfected in unity, is truly a miracle and the work of God!
Humanity thinks uniformity is equal to unity. So it tries to bring people into unity by forcing the same ideology, the same rituals, the same rules, the same beliefs, etc., on people. Through fear of consequences an outward show of unity may be achieved. These methods may look as if they are successful, but that is not the case. It is only an outward show.
There is a big difference between uniformity and unity. Methods do not create unity; they only form uniformity! Methods do not change people inwardly. Within the heart, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentments, etc., still rage. Unity can only exist where love, truth and grace reign!
Jesus defined what He meant by unity. He said, "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity." This unity consists of oneness - Christ's oneness with the Father becomes ours when we are put into Christ!
Christ is the same in you and me as He is in the Father! Christ is the incorruptible seed that cannot receive anything that does not come from the Father. It is the creation of the new man!
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Cor. 5:17) This is the man who is in Christ and has oneness with Him! The apostle Paul wrote, "Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Eph. 4:24)
This new man is created in righteousness and holiness according to God! The new man that we are in Christ is righteous; he does not try to become righteous! This new man is birthed in Christ - not in Adam! In the new creation man's oneness with Christ, Christ has become his righteousness! There is no unrighteousness in Christ. Since Christ is our righteousness, there is no unrighteousness in us, our new creation self. This is hard for us to believe because we still see ourselves as being in Adam. Therefore we have to put on the new man - the man we already are in Christ!
As we identify with the new man that we are in Christ, we will see that we have been transferred out of Adam. A separation has taken place! We are now in Christ! But that carnal mind of death still resides alongside our new mind of life. It wants us to believe that our old mind of self-righteousness with its self-love, self-glory, self-desires, etc., still belongs to us!
Only by believing the truth (Christ) can this wrong thinking be overcome!
Believing Christ displaces our unbelief and wrong thinking. Our spiritual growth takes place as we believe the truth that the Holy Spirit is revealing to us, for He leads us into all truth. Our obedience to the Spirit's teaching proves that we are believing Him. In our obedience to the truth, we are putting on the new man that we are in Christ!
Christ's prayer, "I in them and You in Me," declares that Christ is in us and that the Father is in Him! Can you see the unity, the oneness with the Father that is ours in Christ? Christ in us, and the Father in Christ, brings us and the Father into unity! In Christ we also have the Father! This is the unity with the Father that is ours in Christ! This is the unity that has glory!
Why is this so important? "So that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." The world needs to know the love that sent Jesus into this world to die, not as a substitute for the punishment we deserve, but to raise us out of death and into life! In Christ's (the Son of Man's) identification with sinful humanity, He overcame death and rose triumphantly into life! In togetherness with Him, all can be raised into life!
The world needs to know God's love, and how precious the world is to God!
Imagine the depth of love needed to send your only begotten son - the son of your love, the son who is united with you in all you do - and be willing to send him into a wicked world! Knowing that He will be tortured above and beyond human comprehension, and to die, in order that the world (and that includes those who mistreated and killed your Son) can receive life! If the world is ignorant of this fantastic love, it will not avail itself of the benefits! How will it learn to know and value the benefits of this love, if there is no role model to reveal it? Those who first reap the benefits, are the firstfruit, the benefactors of that love! That love has been reproduced in them when they love their brothers and sisters - the ones who have the opportunity to irritate them, disagree with them, humiliate them, etc. When the love of God is demonstrated in them by their love for one another, the world will take notice!
How does all this fit in with the glory we see in Christ? How does it differ from the glory we see in the religions of this world? How can it be tested?
In the past, alloys of gold were tested by observing the color of the mark that they made when rubbed on a piece of fine-grained dark schist or jasper.
This stone was called a touchstone. It is a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized. In regard to Christ's glory, grace and truth are the touchstone that reveals that which has its source in God!
The religions of this world lack grace and truth! Religion, man's self determination to make himself righteous, has many laws. If you want to remain in good standing with the organization to which you belong, you have to agree with their laws. Disobedience has to be punished! Their belief system is founded on man's imaginative ideas - the ideas and imaginations that need to cast out. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ! Grace cannot be merited! Truth has to be revealed to us! We are saved by grace - not by works! Religions thrive on works. However, our works can never make us righteous! They do not change us on the inside! Every infraction of the law will condemn us!
The substance of the glory that is seen in Christ is full of grace and truth! Grace cannot be earned by doing good deeds, for then it would no longer be grace. Grace does not give us what we deserve. Grace forgives. Grace frees us from all guilt! Grace frees us from the law! Grace reveals the greatness of God's ability to forgive and to create us new in Christ!
This new creation is not formed out of the ground but is created in Christ!
There is no ground, no earthiness in him! Therefore, all that is created in Christ cannot have any earthiness in it!
Truth cannot contain any lies. Truth reveals all the clever counterfeits the serpent's lies can produce. The truth judges the lies and proves that they are false. Truth has foundation! Truth is reliable! Truth and grace have glory - the glory of the only begotten of the Father!
Christ's relationship of oneness with the Father was one of being. The very essence of His being was in oneness with the Father's! Their oneness of "doing" flowed out of their oneness of "being". Since the glory was present before the world was, this glory was not a glory of what He had done, but the glory of grace and truth - the glory of His being! Without that unity, that oneness of being, there is no glory.
Christ's prayer revealed His deep desire. "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me." (v. 24)
Notice that Christ prayed for those whom God had given Him. He prayed that they might be with Him where "I AM" - where He was at that time! He did not pray that they might go where He was going. He wanted them to be in the same relationship of oneness with the Father that He had! To be in this relationship of unity and love, they would first have to become a new creation in Christ. Then they would have to learn to be obedient in all that the Father showed them to do! The degree of our obedience reveals the level of our relationship with God in Christ! Christ's perfect obedience under the most horrendous circumstances revealed His oneness with the Father. It revealed His unlimited love, grace and forgiveness!
Why was this important? "So that they may see My glory which You have given Me." Glory is very important to us!
If we do not see the glory that is inherent in oneness with the Father, we won't be attracted to it. Christ wants us to desire this glory, not to enhance the self-life, but to free us from it. The very substance of this glory is truth! How can we know truth? Only by knowing Christ, for He IS the truth! Truth reveals the lies we thought were truth. Truth reveals the hypocrisy and pride that is resident in the carnal mind of man. Truth reveals that the flesh is always against the Spirit! Truth also reveals the radiance of God's glory, and the very essence of His nature!
In Christ we see the glory of truth and grace! It is so hard for us to believe that Christ has given us who believe in Him, the same glory He has received from the Father! In fact, there is no other glory! So let us walk in the grace and truth that has been revealed to us in Christ, that His glory may also be manifested in us!
In closing I would like to relate what I experienced after being so immersed with the wonder of God's grace and glory! When I went to bed that night, and closed my eyes, instead of darkness, there was light. I was so surprised, I did not think clearly. Had I forgotten to switch off the light? No, when I opened my eyes it was dark. I closed my eyes, put my hand over my eyes, and it was light! A soft rosy hue flooded the room! There were no shadows! There was no furniture; there was only light! I marveled; I was amazed! I asked God to give me understanding. He told me that for me to see His glory, I did not need physical eyes! I was seeing the light of His glory! My physical condition of being "beyond legally blind" did not hinder me from seeing the light of His glory! The darkness had vanished; there was only light!
Living in the glory He has given us, will produce His image in us! What a miracle-working God we have!