“When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’” John 11:4
As I’ve read through John the word ‘glory’ has cropped up a lot. I’ve never felt I understand the word. What is glory? Some kind of amorphous aura that glows around someone indicating they are divine? Is it an action? Praise? What is glory?
I took some time to look at the word ‘glory’ in its various forms in the gospel of John. The actual Greek word translated glory is doxa and means dignity, honor, praise, worship. Hmmm –not especially helpful to me. There is a base word upon which the word doxa is built, the word dokeo. Dokeo means to be accounted, be of reputation, seem (good), suppose, think. Ok, that begins to start clearing the fog. I’m beginning to get the sense that when we see glory we are seeing evidence of the character of the one being glorified. That good which we see in them causes us to praise or give glory.
As I’ve read through all of the verses in John that use some form of the Greek word Doxa the meaning became clearer for me. At John 2:11, after John recounts the miracle of the water turned to wine at the wedding feast at Cana, John says “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” In this verse the word translated revealed means ‘to manifest, to make known’ and carries the sense of showing forth something that was already there, but has now been made visible. Some of the character and power of Jesus was made known to his disciples through the events leading to and through the miracle Jesus performed. Jesus revealed His glory and the disciples put their faith in him.
The Gospel of John also indicates that we can miss the glory of God when we are intent on pleasing men. At John 5:41-44 Jesus is reflecting on the persecution he is experiencing at the hands of the Pharisees for having healed on the Sabbath. He makes it clear that he does only what the Father does and then at verse 41 declares that he does not accept praise (glory) from men. He goes on to ask them “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise (glory) that comes from the only God?” When dependent upon men for praise, in this case the praise that comes from following the rules/laws of the Pharisees, the glory of God can’t be revealed to those individuals and they can’t believe. John 12:37-43 brings home this same point – eyes are blinded and hearts are deadened to the manifest power of God when individuals live in the fear of man. God’s glory is not seen by those seeking to please man.
John’s Gospel has also shown me that there are times when illness and even death are allowed so that the glory of God can be revealed. Look at John 9 – the story of the man born blind. Jesus’ disciples ask him who sinned, the man or his parents that he was born blind? This question revealed a theology of suffering that is deeply ingrained in man … read Job and you’ll see this same theology. Sin begets illness and death, so if someone is ill or someone dies, there must have been sin involved. Jesus’ answer was straight forward and, although it doesn’t use the word glory, it is all about glory. Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Once again the nature/work/character of God made manifest in a situation. Then again in John 11 as Jesus looks toward going to Bethany to minister to Lazarus, he says “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” It is as if God looked down through the ages and crafted a situation where His power and glory could be revealed.
There is also a sense in which death manifests and leads to glory. This is evident in many places in John 12 through 17 where Jesus speaks of himself as being glorified in relation to his death. And at John 21:19 he tells Peter some details regarding the way Peter would die and John says of that exchange “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.” The manner of Jesus’ death, the way in which he went to death and of course the purpose for His death, truly does glorify or reveal the character of both God and Jesus. And I can see the connection to this same glory in Peter’s death. He died in service to the God he loved carrying the gospel of Jesus.
I’m beginning to better grasp the concept of glory. As my understanding of glory grows some of Jesus’ statements related to asking in His name and the assurance that we will receive that for which we’ve asked make more sense. As we see the character and power of God revealed to the praise of His glory, he is able to more and more fully reveal Himself to us, again to the praise of His glory. His goodness and power is. It simply is. That which holds us back is our tendency to look to the power and praise of man thereby blinding ourselves to the power of God.
I long for my life and actions to be to the glory of God. Just as who Jesus is and what Jesus did glorified God, my prayer is that no matter what comes into my life the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest in me to the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Father, I believe, help Thou my unbelief! To the praise of Your Glory!