INI + AMEN.
The cross. The glory of God. Jesus. God. Dead on the cross. This is the glory of God. His glory is seen, seen in Jesus, in Jesus bloody, beaten, hanging dead on a cross. Indeed God’s true glory is seen in the cross of Jesus, in the cross of sorrow. It is seen, yet unseen; revealed, yet hidden. The cross where, as we just sang, “The King of all the ages, Throned in light ere worlds could be, Robed in mortal flesh is dying, Crucified by sin for me.” That is the glory of God. Solomon says so, “It is God’s glory to hide a thing.” God’s glory is hidden, yet revealed in God’s dying, in Jesus’ dying, for you.
(3. The world parades its glory out in the open.)
Not so the world. The world has a different sort of glory, a different idea about glory. The world’s glory is achieved through greatness. That’s what Solomon says, “It is the glory of kings to search out a matter.” Earthly rulers will spare no expense in uncovering whatever matter would be good for their people—a new cure for disease, a new means of defense, a better law for the land, a new and better way to care for his people, whatever it is. We hear this all the time from politicians. History is ripe with examples of this. Peter the great, namesake of St. Petersburg, Russia, was one who built that city from nothing up with his own bare hands. He wanted his people to be equals with the great nations of Europe (Germany, France, England, Spain), and he sought out much to do so, spared no expense: learned ship building, math, architecture, dentistry, medicine, and he was given his due glory: Peter the Great.
Such it has always been. A few generations after the flood men said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves.” Glory must be seen, and it must be earned; it must be kept, and it must be made to stand. As the Psalmist says, “The wicked sees that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.”
Indeed, the world wants its glory to be seen. So does its prince the devil: “Again the devil came took Him to an exceedingly high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and said to Him, ‘I will give you all these things, if you fall down and worship me.’” As the prince so the people: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” Glory isn’t glory unless it’s seen, after all.
And so the world strives for glory. It must be won with blood, sweat, and tears—blood and guts if need be. You’ve got to grease the hands of the powerful if you want to get anywhere in this world. It may be better to be told, “Come up here,” but what Solomon says—“Do not exalt yourself before the king, nor stand in the place of the great”—is ignored. The king was one to be buddy, buddy with. But, “The heavens for height, the earth for depth, and the heart of king there is no searching out.” You may find the favor of the king, but it can disappear as quickly as it appeared. That’s the meaning of that proverb. The disposition of the king is shaky ground to build a foundation on, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying to influence the high and mighty. How else will you move up?
The world will use any means necessary to attain glory. Take your opponents to task. Argue with them. Fight with them. Take them to the courts, even the court of public opinion. They’ll ruin reputations, spill secrets all in the mad-dash to be king of the hill.
(2. We seek a glory that all can see.)
We all want our 15 minutes of fame, our moment in the lime light. This doesn’t just have to be fame like Hollywood. We like recognition. A pat on the back. We want a name for ourselves. We’re all narcissists. The world revolves around me. Doesn’t it? That’s how we act and operate. It’s why we treat people the way we do. We don’t seek to be on top, first, biggest, best, do we? No, not even a little bit. Right. We always defend our neighbor, speak well of him, and always explain everything in the kindest way, right? We put everything in the best possible light all the time? It’s not like we’ll parade him in the court of public opinion to defame him, to make us look better, or at least make us feel better about ourselves?
We want the nice life. The successful life. No worries. More stuff. Better stuff. That’s our glory. The gifts turn to gods. We build them up. Hoard them. We parade our new gadgets for everyone to see. We seek tangible glory for ourselves.
It’s bad enough we do it for ourselves, but we do it with God too. Suddenly we have a God who’s all about glory. Isn’t he awesome? Full of power, might, dominion? Look at creation! It’s beautiful, majestic. That’s our God: beautiful, majestic, powerful, awesome, great, holy, glorious. What then differentiates Him from Allah? His glory is seen when people get in line with His laws. They got their act together: no treating life as if it were nothing with abortions, fertility practices that are just despicable (IVF and the like), no stem cell research, no euthanasia. No degrading of love into lust—even better! No homosexuality, no other kinds of adultery? Yeah, god’s glory can be seen there. Our country following all 10 Commandments. Glory of god? Where’s Jesus?
(1. The Lord’s glory is hidden in Christ and the cross—your salvation.)
You see, God’ glory is hidden in Christ. You want to find the glory of God? Look to Jesus. There you’ll find it. Jesus, “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” as the author of Hebrews puts it. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us—God with a human nature. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
This isn’t just about locating glory, for why did God take on human flesh? “For us men and for our salvation,” that’s why! So God hides His glory in the cross. Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world is cast out; and I, when I am exalted from the earth, will draw all to myself.” Thus James and John ask, “Grant us that we may sit one at your right hand and one at your left hand in Your glory.” Those spots are reserved not for James and John, but for two thieves. God’s glory, hidden in Christ, hidden at the cross, is your salvation.
At the cross Jesus bore our sins (what we think is glory) in his body—the focusing on ourselves, the focusing on things, the throwing our neighbor under the bus all taken by Him. Jesus’ glory, God’s glory is in His taking all your disgusting sins, my disgusting sins, the world’s
filth, which it thinks is glory, and He sheds His holy precious blood to cover it. God’s glory is His death for sinners like you and me. Our false delusions about God are shattered and broken by the cross. There God sheds His blood to redeem you from all such things.
He still hides His glory in His saving of you. Hides it in water. Hides it in bread and wine. With these things He wipes away your sins. He gives you the very body and blood that was broken and shed on Calvary, that was raised on the third day, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, and He places that body and blood into your mouth for your forgiveness, life, and salvation. He hides Himself in sinful men, men who hide themselves from view with vestments, so that, when you see them, you see Jesus standing there to forgive your sins. Men giving out God’s forgiveness, can you get much more hidden than that?
Solomon says it, “It’s God’s glory to hide a thing.” The cross. The glory of God. Jesus. God. Dead on the cross. This is the glory of God. His glory is seen, seen in Jesus, in Jesus bloody, beaten, hanging dead on a cross. God’s glory is hidden, yet revealed in God’s dying, in Jesus’ dying, for you. Indeed,
GOD’S TRUE GLORY, WHICH IS HIDDEN, IS REVEALED IN SAVING YOU.
INI + AMEN.