What does it mean to glory in the Lord? Where do we go in search of glory and honour? Are the glory and honour we experienced in life enduring? Do we crave for more each time?
When Jesus was presented at the temple, the prophet Simeon says: “30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 which You have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).
We must read this passage literally, for so Simeon intended it. The Lord Jesus Christ, though once despised and rejected by His own countrymen, is the great honour and splendor of God’s people, Israel; it is reckoned an honour to a nation when eminent persons are born of its stock and lineage; but Israel can claim the palm above all lands, for she can say that our Lord sprang out of Judah.
We shall now employ the natural Israel as a type of the Lord’s elect ones, and surely there is no straining of the text, when we say that Jesus Christ is the glory of the spiritual seed, the redeemed people. Jesus Christ is the glory of His people, His spiritual people Israel. And why, with evident propriety, may the saints of God be compared to Israel?
Surely because God has made a covenant with them as He did with Jacob. Jacob at the foot of the ladder saw a way which led from earth to heaven; we at the foot of the cross have beheld the same vision; we see a way from our poor fallen estate up to all the glories of the place where God dwells.
We may be compared with Israel, again, because if we be the children of God we have learned to wrestle with the angel and prevail. It may be that we have another likeness to Israel in the fact that we are much tried. Faith must be tried. God had one Son without sin, but He never had a Son without the rod.
The true Israel, which are spiritually the Church of Christ, are said, according to the text, to be the Lord’s people. (1) By His eternal choice. (2) By redemption. (3) By voluntary dedication of ourselves to Him.
I. When we say that Christ is our glory, we mean that we get all the glory we have through Him. Some men go to the schools for glory, others to the camps of war. In all kinds of places men have sought after honour, but the believer says that Christ is the mine in which he digs for this gold, Christ is the sea in which he fishes for this pearl; he gives up all other searchings and looks for glory in Jesus, and nowhere else.
Well, we have the glory, first, of being chosen by God out of the rest of mankind, to be a people for His own possession (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). And this comes to us altogether through Jesus Christ. “According as He has chosen us in Him from before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy” (Eph 1:4).
Our next glory is that we are redeemed; it is no small honour for a man to know that God loved him so well that He gave a price so costly that all heaven and earth could not match it with another—that He gave His only-begotten Son that we might be redeemed.
It is the glory of a Christian that he is adopted, that he is a son of God, but this, again, is only through Jesus Christ. We are joint-heirs with Christ. We have no relation except through His standing at the top of the page in the family register. He is a Son, and we become the many brothers and sisters, but only because He condescended to take upon Him our nature, and become the first-born among us.
Brothers and sisters, it is a great joy to know, and a great glory to say, “I am justified.” We are a people dear to God, and near to Him, but all this lies in Jesus Christ; we are comely with the comeliness which He puts upon us, and secure in God’s sight because we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
The glory of sanctification. It is a great glory to have a new heart, and a right spirit, and to pant after holiness, but this also comes by the same royal road—for we are sanctified through the blood of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit applies to us. There is not a particle of true sanctity in the entire world which does not spring from the cross! Everything which makes us like Christ first comes from Christ, not from the works of the law, nor from the strivings of the flesh, nor the teachings of philosophy.
II. We see a glory in Christ which swallows up all other glories, as the sun’s light conceals the light of the stars.
True believers see glory, first, in Christ’s person; they are often overwhelmed as they contemplate His Godhead and His manhood divinely blended; all His attributes strike them as glorious; they cannot think of His character as He manifested it while here below, or as it is revealed before the throne above, without falling into raptures of adoring wonder, love, and praise.
The saints see a great glory in the sufferings of Christ. When a base world turns away from the Despised and Rejected, it is then that the regenerate heart clings fastest to Him, oh, how divinely the scarlet of His blood becomes Him!
If there were time, we might say that He has been glorious to us in His resurrection, especially since He has taught us to rise with Him in newness of life—glorious in His ascension, now that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, especially now that we have been raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Him. He is glorious in His intercession; what a comfort it is to us to think that our name is on one of the stones of that glorious breastplate! He is glorious, too, in His second advent. We expect Him to come soon; it is earth’s highest hope, the church’s most fervent prayer! Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
III. The text is true in the sense that we give glory to Him. There is life in a look at the Crucified One. There is life in simple confidence in Him, but there is life nowhere else. God send to His Church an undying passion to promote the Saviour’s glory, an invincible, unconquerable pang of desire, and longing that by any means King Jesus may have His own, and may reign throughout these realms! In this sense, then, Jesus is and must be the glory of His people.
IV. But there is another sense — namely, from Jesus is reflected all the glory which is put upon his people. Whatever glory they have, and they have much in the eyes of angels, and much honour in the eyes of discerning men, it is always the reflection of the Saviour’s glory. I know some holy men and women for whom I cannot but feel the deepest and intensest respect, but the reason is because they have so much of my Master about them. I think I would travel many miles to talk with some of them, because their speech is always so full of Him, and they live so near to Him.
V. The text may be read in this sense: Christ is the glory of His people, that is to say, we expect glory when he comes. Our glory is laid up. When we follow Jesus in resurrection, what glory! But we must not begin to speak of that, for we should never leave off at all if we began to talk about that glory — the glory of perfection, the glory of being delivered from sin, the glory of conquest, having trodden Satan under our feet; the glory of eternal rest, the glory of infinite security, the glory of being like Christ, the glory of being in the light and brightness of God, standing, like Milton’s angel, in the very sun itself. If you want to know what heaven is, you can spell it in five letters, and when you put the five letters together they sound like this: Jesus. That is heaven. It is all the heaven the angels round the throne desire to know. They want nothing better than this, to see His face, to behold His glory, and to dwell in it world without end.
VI. The Practical Drift Of The Subject.
Here is a word of warning to those who seek glory anywhere else, because as surely as they do so, even if they meet with honour for a time, they will have to lose it. It is always ill to put our treasure where it will be stolen from us. Now, suppose we seek our glory in our learning. Well, well, well! Let the sexton take up our skull after we have been dead a little while, and what learning will there be in it, what show of wisdom will be found in it when it is resolved into a little impalpable brown powder? What will our science, and our mathematics, and our classics do for us in death and judgment? Suppose we seek our glory in fame, and become the favourite of the nation as a great soldier. When the grave-digger rattles our old bones about, what will that signify? We may have great fame, and men may talk about us. But he who has his glory in Christ, when he opens his eyes in the next world will see Christ, and so behold his glory safe, and firmly entailed upon him.
There are some of us who love Christ, but are too afraid or ashamed to say so. Now, since He is the glory of His people Israel, shouldn’t we be afraid if we do not make Him our glory?
Let us express our desire to bring Christ glory with the song “More Like You”: