After Israel had completed construction of the tabernacle, “the glory of the Lord” filled it (Ex. 40:34), providing the nation the occasion to once again witness the greatness of God. So majestic was the Lord’s glory that Moses was unable to enter the tabernacle (v. 35)! Wherever Israel went, God’s glory went with them (v. 36-38).
If you poked John’s gospel with a stick, glory would leak out. The word is used more times in John (and Romans) than any other NT book (17). In 1:14, John tells us that the Word became flesh and “made His dwelling” (tabernacled – Thayer) among men. As in Moses’ time, it was other-worldly. John wants his readers to know without a doubt, “We have seen His glory” (v. 14).
He will later say they had heard, seen, and touched “the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:2). John and his group bore witness to the glory of God among men. It wasn’t the kind of witness where people think the getaway vehicle might have dark blue or maybe black, late model, two-door or possibly four-door. They hadn’t been with Jesus a few seconds, they had lived with Him a few years. They were certain of what they had seen and it was His glory!
It can be a real challenge to see the glory of Jesus today. For one, Christ is appropriated for any and every cause. Everyone seems to know exactly what He would do today, what issues He would support, what He would be against—He’s so predictable and in synch with our culture. I find that interesting because it seems to me the Christ of Scripture is anything but predictable and purposely had very little to do with first-century causes.
Then too, Jesus’ followers—well, what can you say about the harm we have brought to Him? It’s true that critics of Christianity are far too generous in who they count as followers of Him, but just the same, people of unquestioned faith in Christ have hurt His cause and tarnished His glory.
Nonetheless, His glory shines on.
It’s there whenever you open the book and read about how He treated people. Yes, He had a deep and abiding love for all people. No tax collector, Samaritan or leper was beyond His compassion. But He also treated people with enormous dignity through His refusal to believe they had to stay where they were. He called them higher—from His gentle, probing with the woman at the well to His righteous anger over those misusing the temple courts. You can see it in His reception of children or His rejection of the smug, arrogant religious authorities. He comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.
It’s not hard to see glory in His teachings. Who can read through the Sermon on the Mount and not marvel at Jesus’ insight and wisdom? Then there are stories He told like the prodigal son or the good Samaritan. These teachings transcend any time and speak to all people everywhere.
Then there are His miracles. They weren’t self-promoting spectacles or stunts, they were acts of compassion that pointed people in heaven’s direction. The feeding of the 5,000. The calming of the sea. The raising of Lazarus from the dead. Maybe these are the most straightforward markers of His glory and how sad that so many scoff at them as though they were too good to be true.
If you have seen His glory, you know that, like Him, they’re too good not to be true.