Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What the Cross Says About God's Glory

Part 5 of the series The Cross: What It Says About God

You can listen to this sermon here.



“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). 


The Glory of God

What is the glory of God? The glory of God has two meanings.

1. The glory of God can mean the manifestation of his presence. 

2. The glory of God can mean the honor he deserves. 

In Exodus 33, Moses asked to see God’s glory: “Please show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). On Mount Sinai, “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’” (Ex. 34:5-6). On that same day, the word of God (the Ten Commandments) came down to Moses and was written on tablets of stone.

Centuries later, the Word (Jesus Christ) came down to man and appeared in human flesh, and through him God’s glory was seen. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “Grace and truth” probably parallels “steadfast love and faithfulness” in Exodus 34:6. When God’s law was broken, he displayed his glory by sending Jesus to save us from the law’s death penalty.


"Lifted Up" in Death

In John’s Gospel, there are three “lifted up” sayings in John’s Gospel (cf. Isa. 52:13). To Nicodemus, Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15; cf. Num. 21:8-9). To the Jewish authorities, Jesus declared, ”When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he” (John 8:28). And in the days prior to his death, Jesus announced, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32; cf. v. 34). “Lifted up” has two meanings. Jesus was literally “lifted up” when he hung upon the cross, and he was figuratively “lifted up” because his death led to his exaltation. Jesus sometimes substituted the word “glorified” in the place of “crucified.” He said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23; cf. 13:31-32; 17:1).

The cross was intended to bring shame to its victim, but it brought glory to God.

Like nothing else, the cross displays the glory of God. In it we see his steadfast love and faith-fulness. 


Glorify God 

The apostle Paul wrote, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). The King James Version says, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Because of the cross, we should be willing to live our lives to glorify God. 

“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).