Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Glory is a legitimate English word, but when was the last time you heard it in day-to-day conversation? If you are a classic movie buff, you might recall Katharine Hepburn's role in a 1933 drama, Morning Glory. Or if you love flowers, especially those that thrive in poor soil and without special care, the Morning Glory might be one with which you are familiar. Besides these usages though, the word glory has little use in our common speech. Perhaps that's the reason for today's message; there is an aspect of Jesus that we miss if we do not understand the concepts inherent in the word glory.
Paul wrote, "However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2.6-8). In this text he speaks of glory that was ordained of God for us, and he speaks of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory. Before we begin to attempt to understand these phrases, some word clarification is needed.
Basically, glory is a distinction due to a positive quality or asset. In this vein, we could speak of the glory of the New Orleans Saints football team, winners of the Super Bowl. Or, we could speak of the glory of a child who excels in an essay writing contest. It simply means that someone or something excels in a positive manner; that is the glory of the person or thing. To illustrate biblically, there is the glory of the stars, which is surpassed by the glory of the moon, which in turn, is excelled by the glory of the sun (see 1 Corinthians 15.40-41). In this light, Jesus is the Lord of Glory; He is unexcelled in glory!
When He was born, angels appeared on high who attributed "...glory to God in the highest." (Luke 2.14). Many years later when Jesus was tempted by Satan, he "...showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." (Matthew 4.8). Still later on the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke like this: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Matthew 6.28-29). These few verses and the comment (above) show how the word was used in the New Testament era. When someone gave glory to another, they simply recognized them for the positive things that set that person apart. For instance, when only one of ten cleansed lepers returned to give thanks for his healing, Jesus said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner [Gentile]?" (Luke 17.17-18).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of a coming era in which He would return in great glory, with the glory of the Father and of the holy angels; He also spoke of His glorious reign as He spoke of the "throne of His glory." (see Matthew 16.27; Matthew 19.28; Matthew 25.31, et al). As He prepared to depart this earth, He prayed, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You..." (John 17.1). Continuing, He said, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17.5).
Time and space escape me. You get the gist of what it means to have glory and to glorify another. Back now to the focus text. Paul declared that had the rulers of the world understood God's plan, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Stop! See the contrast! Jesus deserved to be recognized in one way, but at the opposite end of the spectrum, He was crucified. All He asks of us is that we recognize Him for who He really is, The Lord of glory! Give glory to God today by confessing Jesus in your life!
1. When Jesus was born, angels glorified God. In practical language, what does this mean?
2. When the one leper returned, he glorified God? What does that mean?
3. From these two illustrations, do you see a simple, almost too simple, way that you can glorify God? If so, what is it?
4. Consider the phrase The Lord of Glory? What does it imply? If He is the LORD of Glory, what thing or person excels His glory? Explain.
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