The Glory of the Cross
“When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (John 13:31).
In every purpose of God, in every action He takes or withholds, there always remains His underlying and ultimate objective: to display His glory for our good.
The glory of God is our reason to live. The glory of God is why we’re allowed to draw another breath. Even Jesus lived and died for the glory of God. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once” (John 13:31–32). You can count five mentions of glory in those two verses. Clearly it’s an important matter to God.
It is important also, then, that we understand what His glory really is. Glory is one of those churchy words that are easily thrown around and we can easily miss what they actually mean. It sounds so right to say. But the meaning of “glory” is extremely significant and is something worth bringing to mind.
Let’s start here: There is a God. But we don’t see God. What we see is His glory. At least a small part of His glory. We see His glory in the universe above us. We see His glory in nature all around us. And we see His glory in His church—His people—when we allow Him to work through us. I would suggest that the word evidence is a synonym of “glory” as I am now thinking of it. Glory is God’s fingerprint; proof of His presence; of Him among us.
When Jesus spoke in John 13 of God being “glorified in him,” the events of His suffering which led to the cross were well underway. With Judas’s betrayal, the wheels of Christ’s ordeal were now moving, and God was “evidencing” Himself—glorifying Himself.
Up until that time, Jesus’ “hour had not yet come” (John 7:30). But now His hour was here, leading to six hours on the cross where Jesus would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world.
There is glory in that. There is evidence of God in that. And today, as we close our eyes and see Him on the cross, what are we really seeing? We’re seeing God glorified. We’re seeing evidence of God’s love. The cross is God doing what people don’t do. The cross is God giving Himself for us so that we can be forgiven and spend eternity with Him.
Nothing brings more glory to God—more evidence of God—than sacrificial loving. Loving when it hurts. Loving when it costs.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43–44). There is no glory, no evidence of Him, when we love others in return for the love they have for us. Everybody does that. The glory comes when we love those who don’t love us.
The glory of God was shown in Christ’s death, loving His enemies, even praying for His enemies. Because all of us were His enemies. “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10). What glory.
May we kneel at the cross today. Jesus died for us there. And if we can bear to raise our head and look on Him, we’ll not only see the price of our salvation, freely given. We’ll see our reason for living. We’ll see the glory of God. KG