Why did Jesus die? Part 8: Glory
Have you ever heard the expression, to reveal one’s true colours? When someone reveals their true colours it means they have shown what they are really like, and sometimes it is a positive thing, and sometimes it is a negative thing. Well, there is a Greek word used in the Bible, ‘doxa’ and behind this is the Hebrew word ‘kabod’ and this is a word used when God’s true colours are revealed, and it is translated into English as ‘glory’.
Glory is not a word we use very much these days, as it is a bit of an old-fashioned word, but we might say a flower arrangement is glorious, or it may be used to express the majesty of a royal in the words of God Save The King. Seeing something in all its glory is to see something for how it truly is, and this is why, in the Bible, when talking of God, God’s glory can shine. When there is glory it means the very essence of something is being illuminated. In the same way, we can give glory to God. This is when, through our words or actions, we shed light on the nature of God.
It may come as a surprise, then, that the death of Jesus on the cross is described by the writers of the New Testament as being glorious — i.e. revealing the glory of God. For example, John writes, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). And Jesus even says this of himself, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23). And speaking about his death says, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (John 12:27-28)
In other words, if the death of Jesus is glorious, then it sheds light on, illuminates, and reveals something about the true nature of God. Therefore, the million dollar question is what is it about the nature of God that is being revealed through the cross of Jesus Christ?
Well, over the past seven insights and messages we have explored exactly that. The cross of Jesus has revealed:
- a God who takes the initiative and makes the first move towards reconciling broken relationships,
- a God who is humble and self-sacrificial, putting the needs of others first,
- a God who is both merciful and just without bias or shortcuts,
- a God who sets us free from sin and death, and through forgiving us, leads us to new life in the here and now and for eternity,
- a God who understands what it is to suffer and stands with us in our suffering, giving us hope, as He leads us to a future world where there will be no more suffering and pain,
- a God who defeats the powers of this world demonstrating that love wins over evil,
- and a God who shows, by example, a way to live our lives, and opens the way for His Spirit to live in and through us.
It is interesting to note that a person’s positive true colours often come out when they are stressed or put under duress. As Jesus hung on the cross, as he was squeezed and put under pressure — literally pierced by the soldier’s sword — blood and water flowed out of him — the blood representing forgiveness and the water representing new life in the Spirit. At the last supper Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) It is through God expressing his glory — his very nature — that we are brought back into a right relationship with God.
At the heart of the Christian message is the fact that no amount of good intentions or moral resolutions will free us from the power of sin in our lives and that we need a saviour. Sin can only be dealt with through the self-giving love of Christ, to whom we repeatedly come on bended knee, confessing our sins, and being joined to Him as he slowly leads us to new life — life in all its fullness in the here and now and forever. As the Apostle Paul puts it in his letter to the church in the town of Corinth,
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? … And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9a, 11)
And our response to the self-sacrificial love of Jesus? To give glory back to God; to boast and praise of all God has done for us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, and to offer our whole selves in a life of loving service to the glory of His name.