The Grave to Glory – Christ and the Glory of God

What is the “Glory of God?” The answer is multi-faceted.

The word doxa (G1391), transliterated to English from the Greek language, occurs 165 times in the New Testament. It is translated most often (147 times, depending on the translation) as the word glory.

In regards to Christ, the glory has been defined (by Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon) as His condition with God the Father in heaven to which He was raised after he had achieved his work on earth at his first advent (i.e., first coming).

The Power of God’s Glory over Death

Romans 6:4 . . . Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father . . . .

Luke 24:26 (words of Christ spoken to His disciples after He arose from the grave) “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter His glory?”

Christ’s Ascension in Glory

1 Timothy 3:16  . . . He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Although a reality, the full meaning of the glory of God cannot not be grasped by words alone. Perhaps one day, when we witness the glory of God for ourselves, we will understand.

The Cross to the Grave, Part VI – Final Words

After quoting the first words of Psalm 22 (see The Cross to the Grave, Part III – Forsaken) Jesus speaks three more times before surrendering His human body to physical death. 

“I thirst.” (John 19:28)

“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

And crying with a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed out the spirit. (Luke 23:46)

Jesus speaks boldly, not with the faint heart of a tortured and dying human. His speech, described as “crying with a loud voice” shows the strength of his proclamation. A similar description was given by Matthew and Mark when Jesus quoted the first line of Psalm 22.

Christ’s life could only be given voluntarily by Christ himself: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

In His last address to the Father, Jesus again quotes from a Psalm of David (Psalms 31:5). Jesus commits His spirit to the Father. The greek word translated as commit (G3908) means to place alongside, that is, present; by implication to deposit (as a trust or for protection). From the beginning to the end of His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus trusts the Father.

NEXT POST: The Grave to Glory, Part I

The Cross to the Grave, Part V – The Father’s Will

Imagine knowing your future. Jesus knew and taught His disciples “. . . the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected . . . and killed, . . . and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31) The knowledge of His impending suffering caused Jesus great anguish. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and confided in three of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38)

Then Jesus walked ahead a short distance, fell on His face and prayed three times: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Again, for the second time, he . . . prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And the third time, saying the same words again. (See Matthew 26:39, 42, 44; Mark 14:32-39; Luke 22:42)

What is the cup Jesus spoke about? It certainly included His suffering and death, but more importantly Christ endured God’s wrath against the sins of all humankind. The cup came from the Father (John 18:11). Because of His love for the Father and His obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus not only bore our sins but rose from the grave three days later, proclaiming victory over death and making a way for our sins to be forgiven and for our spirit to be reconciled with God and reunited with God after our physical death. This is the Father’s will. 

1 Peter 2:22-24 “He [Jesus] committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave, Part VI – Parting Words

The Cross to the Grave, Part IV – Prayers to the Father

In my last post I asked “Did God truly forsake Jesus on the cross, even for a few hours?” Only God and Jesus have complete knowledge of what occurred in those hours of darkness; however, the prayers of Jesus, spoken shortly before His death, describe the supernatural union of the Father and the Son.

John 17:1-3  Jesus . . . lifted up His eyes to Heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that Your Son also may glorify You, even as You have given Him authority over all flesh so that He should give eternal life to all You have given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

John 17:4-8  “I have glorified You upon the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have revealed Your name to those whom You gave to Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things, whatever You have given Me, are from You. For I have given to them the Words which You gave Me, and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from You. And they have believed that You sent Me.”

John 17:11-12  “And now I am in the world no longer, but these are in the world, and I come to You, Holy Father. Keep them in Your name, those whom You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those that You have given Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

John 17:20-23  “And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one, I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

Next Post: The Cross to the Grave, Part V – The Father’s Will

The Cross to the Grave, Part III – Forsaken

The fourth time Jesus spoke from the cross he cried in a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (See Matthew 27:45-46 and Mark 15:33-34)

Forsaken. It means totally abandoned, deserted. His cry was as alarming as the darkness blanketing the land. Many standing nearby misunderstood his words. But a Jew would know Jesus was quoting the beginning of Psalm 22 written by David. 

The psalm begins with a cry of anguish, but quickly turns to a proclamation of trust in God. Then David’s words become prophetic. Similarities to the sufferings of Jesus are found throughout. Towards the end of the psalm David praises the Lord and speaks of a future when all will worship Christ the Lord.

Psalm 22 may help us imagine how Christ suffered. Being both fully God and fully human, he suffered physically, as a man, and also emotionally from false accusations, ridicule, and betrayal. But the forsakenness He experienced is unique to Him alone; a type of spiritual agony which human hearts cannot comprehend. Our Lord and Savior surrendered to God’s wrath against all human sin, for all time (2 Corinthians 5:21). Creation manifested the burden placed on our creator God – the sun failed (Luke 23:45) and the earth shuddered (Matthew 27:51).

Did God truly forsake Jesus on the cross, even for a few hours? Was the abandonment physical or spiritual or both? The answer seems beyond the reach of human understanding, but the prayers of Jesus shortly before His death assure us the bond between the Father and the Son was never broken. 

Next Post: The Cross to the Grave, Part IV – Prayers to the Father

The Cross to the Grave, Part II

“Mother’s Day.” Photo Capture by Julie Anne. ©️Anne Monroe Designs. All rights reserved.

Mary, surrounded by family, stood near the cross of Jesus. If only she could rescue him, or at least ease his pain. How could it be that her son would suffer in this manner, sentenced to death by the people he came to redeem? She uttered no words. Was she mute by the horror of her son’s condition or silent in reverence for the Son of God? Did the words of Simeon, spoken shortly after she gave birth to Jesus, come to mind?

“. . . a sword will pierce even your own soul — to the end that the thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:35

Jesus looked at his mother as she watched his execution. He understood her pain and grief. In his third selfless act from the cross Jesus showed his love for her, his words prompting John to take Mary away from the horror of watching her son suffer and die. 

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold thy son!” Then Jesus spoke to John and bestowed the honor of caring for Mary. “. . . Behold thy mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:26-27

As Simeon had prophesied, the condition of many hearts were revealed that day, from the most evil to the most pure. Jesus revealed His heart of empathy and perfect love. Out of love for God the Father Jesus restrained his own deity and surrendered to physical death. His act of submission vanquished the power of sin over humanity, and secured a way for all those who believe in His death and resurrection to be reconciled with the Father. 

“. . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their sins unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave, Part III – Forsaken

The Cross to the Grave, Part I – Forgiven

In His first few hours on earth Jesus rested in a manger. In His last few He agonized on a cross. From humble birth to humiliating death. His birth was private and His arrival met with awe and wonder by a chosen few. The angels and the shepherds praised God for the Savior, Christ the Lord. His death by crucifixion was public and His execution at Calvary met with ridicule and scorn by many people whom Jesus came to save. “He came to His own {people} and those who were His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11

How did Jesus respond? He SPOKE.

First, to God the Father: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34a
Jesus asked forgiveness for the Roman soldiers who where carrying out His death sentence. Hours later they recognized Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47).

Next, Jesus spoke to a criminal who was being crucified next to him. Jesus assured him: “. . . Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 While suffering excruciating pain, this man asked Jesus to remember him. He admitted his guilt and recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and the one who could grant him entrance into the kingdom of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Neither the soldiers or the thief asked for forgiveness but Jesus offered it, a gift none of them deserved. For the soldiers it meant forgiveness for their actions (sins) against God. For the thief it meant a new sentence after his death; his soul would be with Jesus.

These two events aid in our understanding of reconciliation with God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

First, we all need forgiveness for our sins, even if we are not aware of our need. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Second, understand that forgiveness is a gift. “Being justified freely {as a gift} by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God displayed publicly as a propitiatory sacrifice in His blood through faith.” Romans 3: 24-25a

Third, believe in Jesus – He is the Son of God. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10

Fourth, admit your sins against God (committed by your inherent sin nature and also by sinful thoughts and actions) and ask God for forgiveness. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave, Part II

The Manger to the Cross

His mother Mary laid him in a manger – a feeding trough, for livestock. Jesus, her first child, a helpless baby, was born in Bethlehem, miles from the home of Joseph and Mary. The shepherds found him there as the angels had described (Luke 2:6-16). Details of the actual birth are scarce, but the impact of His arrival profound. His birth was prophesied hundreds of years earlier, revealed to the prophet Isaiah.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“O Come, O Come, Immanuel, and randsom captive Israel.”

The prophecy was fulfilled in real time to Joseph and Mary and then the chosen shepherds. The promised Messiah was born to a virgin and a remnant remembered the promise and recognized the reality.

“That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear.”

A multitude of heavenly hosts (angels) appeared and praised God. A Savior, Christ the Lord, is born!

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.”

The child Jesus grew from helpless babe into servant-king. He ministered to the people and healed their sickness and their sin. Many recognized Him as the Son of God. 

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Then joy turned to sorrow. 

“And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour . . . the veil of the temple was torn in two.” Luke 23:44-45.

The long-awaited Messiah was crucified next to common criminals.

Luke recorded the birth and death of our Savior, Christ the Lord. And a remnant remembers. Immanuel – God with us. 

NOTE: Text in bold and centered are from VENI IMMANUEL, 9th Century.

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave

Fundamental Trust

In today’s world it’s difficult to trust. We are bombarded daily with media bias, opinions proclaimed as facts, conflicting science, cover-ups, and fraud. While public trust is eroding most of us still know people we can count on.

Who do you trust? A spouse or parent; sibling or close friend; physician or religious leader? Are you confident they will keep their promises? Does your trust come from experiences showing these people to be who they say, living true to their character? Trust in others is relative – based on past experiences, current situations, and hopes for the future. And yet, the most trustworthy people fail us at times.

THERE IS ONE WHO WON’T FAIL US.

God, creator of heaven and earth, is worthy of our trust. Scripture abounds with historical accounts of God fulfilling His promises – doing exactly what He said He would do. His actions show Him to be who He says – true to His character. In the Scriptures He has revealed, in part, the future and we can trust He will accomplish what He has declared.

Consider the miracles surrounding the birth of Jesus. Joseph trusted an angel of the Lord who appeared to him in dreams. Mary trusted the angel Gabriel, sent by God. Elizabeth and Zacharias believed the promises given through God’s prophets. On the night of Jesus’s birth shepherds believed angels, sent by God, and acted on their belief.

If you want a reminder that God is trustworthy, read the accounts of fulfilled promises, angelic interventions, and miraculous events recorded in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Then consider those whom God found trustworthy.

Proverb 3:5-6 says it well. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

That’s what Joseph and Mary did. And Elizabeth and Zacharias. So did the shepherds. Will you do the same?

It’s A Good Day

“It’s a good day.” Image Capture by Lon M Helmick. ©Anne Monroe Designs. All rights reserved.

Several years ago I read the book “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. This true story is rich with lessons in service, humility, love, and thanksgiving learned in the fires of intense suffering and loss. A thought from their book stuck with me. Ron and Deborah Hall meet a homeless man at the shelter where they serve. He always arrives with a smile. They ask why. He responds, “It’s a good day, I woke up.” When faced with her terminal illness, Ron and Debbie remember his words and grasp the truth that every day is a gift from God.

How would our lives change if we started every day with the same thought and really believed it? Would the sunrise seem remarkable? Could we be thankful for the cold, the heat, the wind, the rain, the ice, and the snow? Would a cloudy day be as welcome as a sun-filled day? Could the first person we spoke to that day, whether family or friend or stranger, be greeted with the realization God placed them in our lives or path for a reason? For our families, a life-long commitment. For our friends, perhaps a season. And for the stranger, perhaps only a single encounter.  It might be for their good, or ours, or both.

Jesus is our role model. Remember the times he fed the hungry, calmed the frightened, healed the sick, led the lost, forgave the sinner, and prayed for those around him. Our job as a Christ-follower is to watch and act and pray. Watch for signs someone near you has a need. Then act. Perhaps with a word of encouragement, or compassion, or loving confrontation. Perhaps with a physical gesture – a simple touch or embrace. Investing time can be meaningful – a coffee date, a shopping trip, a hospital visit – or providing for a physical need. Pray for the person to seek God for comfort and strength.

I am struck by the lives we live on this earth, the human condition – so much joy alongside so much heartache. I don’t know how anyone survives the heartache if they can’t find the joy. Within each heartache is an opportunity – to meet God, to know God, and to praise God – and experience true joy. And the opportunity isn’t for us alone. It’s an opportunity to draw others closer to God.

“It’s a good day.”