Glory Hidden In Wounds

Text: John 17:1-11

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory: it is a word that communicates beauty, splendor, majesty, and nobility. The word glory is typically attached to persons or things that have great renown, fame, prestige, honor, eminence, and acclaim. Indeed, something that is described as glorious is something that has striking magnificence and brings about feelings of delight. But what about the word ‘glorify?’ The word glorify is a verb. Thus, to glorify someone is to show and give him or her respect and reverence and honor, so that it can be seen by others. To glorify someone is to make the oohhs and aahhs public and visible. Typically to glorify someone is not something that is done in private that is, behind closed doors; but rather, is done publicly so that all can see and know that they are in the presence of somebody of worth and in the presence of a glorious event to be remembered.

As we heard in our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus is praying to the Father and mentions the word ‘glorify.’ Jesus prays, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Yes, Jesus and His disciples are in the upper room the night before His passion; it was the night that Jesus instituted the Holy Supper. From that upper room Jesus taught the disciples and then He began to pray in chapter seventeen of John’s Gospel. As He prayed He confessed that the time had come. The time had indeed come for Jesus to complete God’s plan to save the world; the climax of Jesus’ saving work was at hand. Glory was going to be bestowed upon Christ and upon the Father. The time of glory was near.

As Jesus prayed and the disciples listened I can imagine them looking at each other with excitement when they heard the magical word ‘glorify.’ I can envision them being like little children, with heads intently bowed and hands firmly clasped together for a brief moment, that is, until their heads jolted upwards in delight and their eye lids forcefully opened showing pupils of glimmering hope; “Did He just say glory?” Indeed, the word glory typically brings about euphoric feelings in each and every one of us as we anticipate something that will be incredible and awe-inspiring.

With that said, what do you consider the disciples were thinking when they heard that enchanting word ‘glory?’ What were they thinking when Jesus said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify the Son”? Was it time for Jesus to plunge into the crooked religious system of that time, make heads roll, and unleash vengeance on those who ridiculed Him? Was it time for Jesus to gather, establish, and orchestrate a revolution to overthrow the powerful Roman Government, thus establishing His own dynasty for years to come? Was it time for Jesus to clean up the corruption in the Temple? Was it time for Jesus to call on His Father and thus have more than twelve legions of angels at His disposal to make things happen? Keep in mind though, if any of these scenarios would have been the glorification that Jesus talked about, the events of Christ’s cross would not have happened and frankly my friends, if the events of Christ’s cross would not have happened, you and I would still be in our sins and would be eternally damned forever.

Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what glory was about to be revealed? How was Jesus to be glorified? As we peak forward in the Gospel of John, and as I have already alluded to, we see the betrayal and arrest of Jesus leading to His crucifixion. Could it be that the glory Jesus talked about is found in His betrayal, flogging, and death on the cross? You see, while we look for glory in power, wisdom, and generosity, God’s glory is found in the Crucified One. It you take a moment to consider this, it is completely backwards to our way of thinking. For example, at the cross there was nothing great or beautiful or attractive. Rather, at the cross there was humiliation, disgrace, weakness, sorrow, and an agonizing death. Thus, at the events of Jesus’ cross we don’t see what we would typically call glory. The cross is an appalling and depressing sight of the Crucified One. However, even though it does not look like glory to us, Jesus states in our Gospel reading today that He is glorified at the cross and the Father is glorified by Jesus’ death on the cross.

At this point you should be drawing the conclusion that God’s view of glory is quite different than our view of glory. In fact God’s display of glory contradicts all of our senses and all of our thoughts of what glory actually is. Yes, it is indeed true that God’s ways are not our ways and our ways are not God’s ways. Furthermore, His thoughts are not our thoughts and our thoughts are not His thoughts. The way God sees things and defines reality is typically the very opposite to how mankind sees things and understands reality. Let me give you a couple of examples.
  • We believe that the greatest is the one who is first; however, the Bible says that the last shall be first and the first will be last. 
  • We believe that one who wins is victorious; however, the Bible says that victory is found in surrendering. 
  • We believe that the spiritually rich are blessed; however, the Bible says blessed are those who are spiritually bankrupt. 
  • We believe that those who laugh and have joy are the ones who are truly comforted; however, the Bible says that those who mourn shall be comforted. 
  • We believe that an example of greatness is an independent, autonomous, and self-sustaining adult; however, the Bible says that the greatest are dependent, subservient, and needy children. 
  • We believe that mankind is intrinsically good; however, the Bible says that mankind has an evil heart. 
  • We believe that mankind is free; however, the Bible says that mankind is bound. 
  • We believe that life happens as we truly live; however, the Bible says that we must die to truly live. 
  • We believe glory is found in victory; however, the Bible says that glory is found in Christ’s death.
My friends “the cross of Christ demands faith contrary to what our eyes see. What our eyes often see as good can often be sin in the eyes of God. What human wisdom considers good fortune and there strives for—health, success, affluences—these things God in His wisdom may see as harmful for a person’s good and so denies them. [More specifically, at the cross] our eyes see there only suffering, weakness, the agony of being forsaken by God, the disgrace, the crushing triumph of evil and the victory of death. But for faith all these things are the . . . victory of the world’s Redeemer.”[1]   You see, Martin Luther once commenting on this stated, “When God makes alive, he does it by killing, when he justifies he does it by making men guilty, when he exalts to heaven he does it by bringing down to hell.”[2]   Otherwise stated, what this all means is that at the cross—where Christ was cursed, where Christ was put to death, and where Christ was crushed—there at the cross hidden deeply in the blood, suffering, and death of Jesus was the greatest event that the worlds has ever known. Yes, hidden in the nail scarred hands, hidden in the pierced side, and hidden in the words, “It is Finished,” was the redemption of mankind from the curse of the Law—your redemption from the curse. Hidden in the Crucified One was the demise of death—your death. Hidden in the bleeding savior was the destruction of the Evil One—for you. Hidden in the events of the cross is the forgiveness of sins—your sins. Hidden in the cross is the fulfillment of God’s plan to save the world—which includes you. Hidden in the cross is complete and total glory; glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is glorified at the cross. Jesus is glorified in the resurrection and His ascension. The Father is glorified in the redemption of sinful mankind to Himself. Glory is found at the climatic work on the cross. It is through shame and suffering of the cross that the Father and Son glorify each other, resulting in your redemption. This. Is. glory.

Indeed, Jesus is glorious in all that was accomplished—for us. Indeed, the Father is glorious that this plan of salvation was enacted—for us. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is glorious because He has called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, sanctified and kept us in the true faith. We are indeed recipients of this great glory.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
[1] Hermann Sasse, We Confess Anthology (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 50.
[2]Martin Luther, WA 18, 633 (American Edition 33, 62).

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