Glory Is Not What We Think

I’m pleased to share the steerage of the Daily Text this week with Dr. Wade Paschal, a long time friend and colleague of mine. Most recently retired from a long tenure of service as the Senior Minister of the First United Methodist Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wade is a pastor-teacher of more than thirty years, a writer and mentor. He is father to three children and grand-father to two. He started as an economics major and went on to do New Testament studies, earning a PhD in Biblical Studies from Cambridge. He served as the founding Dean of the Beeson Center for Biblical Preaching and Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary, but spent most of his time on the front lines of his downtown church. You will be enriched by his writings this week.

June 12, 2017

John 17:1-5

17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

CONSIDER THIS

John chapters 13-17 form what has been called the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus—his last words to the disciples before the cross. John 13 begins with the note that Jesus knew “his hour” had come—the time for his death. And now Jesus ends with a prayer that starts, “The hour has come.”

In the light of his coming death Jesus asks the Father to “glorify” the son and to do that with the “glory” he had before the world began. It sounds like Jesus is asking God to honor him, but as usual in the Gospel of John there is more to glory than meets the eye.

We typically connect the word “glory” with giving a person praise or status or recognition. Certainly Jesus deserves honor—he has as he points out finished his work on earth in obedience to the Father. But the “glory” he is talking about is not about recognition or praise. Jesus already has “authority over all people to give eternal life.” It would hardly be possible to give him more status or recognition.

We may think of OT ideas of glory, especially the Exodus stories. The glory of God appears in the cloud that leads the people, on Sinai and especially in the tabernacle. When Moses asks to see God’s glory in Exodus 33-35, God tells him that human beings cannot see this glory and live. So, God allows Moses an indirect vision—and that is enough to transform the face of Moses with shining light. The glory of God is the powerful, transforming presence of God.
Is this the glory Jesus is talking about?

Well, yes and no. Certainly, we hear echoes of the Exodus stories when John says in 1:14 that “the word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the Only Son of God, full of grace and truth.” The glory Moses cannot see Jesus reveals in his flesh to those who believe. But “glory” means even more than that.

John 13 and 17 form bookends to the Farewell Discourse. And what did Jesus do in John 13 when, knowing that his hour had come and that the Father had given all things into his hand?

He took a towel and a bowl and washed his disciples’ feet.

The foot-washing rehearses the cross. When he washes the feet of the disciples, Jesus reveals his own character and essence. He shows us power expressing itself in service. That is his real essence. When Jesus prays for the glory that he had before the foundation of the world, he is asking God to reveal his real character and power through the cross. The cross is revelation of his eternal glory.

So here’s the takeaway for me: the “glory” of Jesus is his willingness to give his life to give life to others.
And I am called to know that glory—to live it and make it part of my life to the point where my life is reformed and reshaped by it.

The truth is that I like the typical kind of glory—that is I like honor and being recognized and people paying attention to me.

The glory that Jesus seeks is the glory of the servant.

THE PRAYER

Gracious Father, you have given us everything in Christ. I look at the cross and I see love that transforms me. To have that love in the deepest part of my life I need your help through the Holy Spirit. Know me, O Lord, and help me to know you. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  • If you had “all authority” in heaven and earth, how would you go about using it?
  • What sort of “honor” and “glory” have you sought for in your life? To the extent you received any, what difference did it really make?
  • Can you name times in which you felt and deeply lived in the love of Jesus—what difference did that make?

For the Daily Text, this is Wade Paschal.

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Dr. R. Wade Paschal, Jr. is a retired United Methodist Pastor and a Bible Teacher. He was educated at Princeton University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Cambridge University, and has written two books and a number of articles on the Bible and on ministry. His academic areas of interest and focus are the Gospel of John, Judaism, apocalyptic literature and farewell discourses, and he has led tours of the Holy Land.

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