Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Glory of Christ's Sufferings

The Scriptures speak of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ as the depth of His humiliation (Phil. 2:8) and a cross of shame that He endured (Heb. 12:2). Yet He could say for Himself “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” (Jn 12:23). “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” (Jn. 13:31). “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (Jn. 17:1).

The Lord Jesus Christ was showing himself to be the suffering Servant in whom the Father would be glorified (Is. 49:3). He that was called from the womb to be the Servant of the LORD, to bring Jacob again to Himself, though Israel would “be not gathered” but reject Him most cruelly and sinfully – yet would He be “glorious in the eyes of the LORD” (Is. 49:5). Few but the LORD saw Him as glorious in His sufferings. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Is. 53:3). “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head” (Ps. 22:7). Even the Father forsook Him with the Heaven of His felt presence so that He had to cry “hide not thy face from thy servant” (Ps. 69:17). Yet the exceeding poverty of Christ would be the riches of His people; His rejection of the Jews would be the riches of the Gentiles in whom He would be glorified as light unto them in their darkness (Is. 49:6; Jn. 12:22-23). “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him” (Acts 3:13).

The Lord Jesus Christ was troubled exceedingly at the thought of His sufferings (Jn. 12:27-29). Yet His desire is for the glory of the Father in it. There is a sense in which the glory which should follow the sufferings of Christ broke in upon the deep night of soul suffering that He experienced in prospect of His soul being made an offering for sin. The dark clouds of the wrath of God were gold-edged with glorifying His Justice, Mercy, Love and Holiness. His Holiness was glorified by sin being removed, the Justice of God was glorified when it was vindicated in the full execution of the punishment due to the sin of His people. His Wisdom found a way to satisfy Justice and Mercy together and His Faithfulness to His promises was magnified. The Love of God was glorified in effectually securing its objects. If by the deliverance from Egypt at the Red Sea, the LORD was become glorious in power and holiness (Ex. 15:6&11), how much more in the exodus that Christ accomplished at Calvary? Of this work of redemption it can be truly and preeminently said: “His work is honourable and glorious”. “He hath shewed his people the power of his works” “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.” “The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein” (Ps. 111:2-6).

When the Lord Jesus Christ cried out “It is Finished” He was offering glory to God. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorifythou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (Jn. 17:4-5). Thus He gave Himself “for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph. 5:2). The glory of the LORD dwelt between the cherubim over the mercy-seat, and so it was that from this place of atonement that the glory of God shone forth (Ps. 80:1).

The glory of Christ was made great in this salvation (Ps. 21:5). Not only for the sufferings of death but even by the sufferings of death was He crowned with glory and honour (Heb. 2:9 margin). He was made perfect through sufferings (Heb. 2:10). He was glorified in His soul immediately and straightway (Jn. 13:32), this was in His sufferings but also as His human soul did at His death pass immediately into glory and as His body was raised up in glory at His resurrection on the third day.

Though it was the depth of Christ's humiliation when His heel was wounded, yet it was His greatest glory on the earth when He crushed the head of the old serpent (I Jn. 3:8; Heb 2:14). If David got himself a name in smiting the Syrians (2 Sam. 8:13-14), how much more did the Lord Jesus Christ in the day of His battle get that name which is above every name (Phil. 2:8-9)? Is not Christ “glorious in His apparel”, red with the blood of His enemies (Gen. 49:11), “travelling in the greatness of His strength” (Is. 63:1)? He would come victorious, leading Captivity captive as the King of glory. “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle” (Ps. 24:7). Since these things are so, our resolve must be “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:8).