The Gospel of John, part 6, The weight of glory
Sep 14, 2019
John 1:14 says,
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word of God was not truly the Memra until it became flesh. This was the beginning of the manifestation of the glory of Christ in the earth insofar as the new creation was concerned. The Gospel of John was written specifically to show how He manifested the glory of God in the earth, along with its prophetic connection to the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles.
The Word becoming flesh is seen in Isaiah 7:14, quoted by the angel to Joseph in Matthew 1:23,
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means “God with us.”
Immanuel was Christ’s prophesied name, but yet just a few verses later we read that He was named Iesous, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Yeshua, or the English Jesus (Matthew 1:25). The name Immanuel spoke of His overall purpose for coming, which was to manifest the glory of God and bring heaven to earth. By transforming the earth, the bride of heaven was prepared for her New Covenant marriage in Revelation 21:3, saying, “God Himself will be among them.”
Immanuel is the goal; Jesus is the means to that end. In both cases, He dwells among us or with us. He appeared first in a world that was full of darkness, needing His light and glory to be transformed to that condition for which it had been created. Immanuel is the final condition necessary for a successful marriage. “God with us” is more than a companionship, more than a Friend living next door. It is an intimate marriage relationship.
When John wrote “the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us,” he proved that he was not a Gnostic, for the Gnostics believed that a good God could never taint Himself with evil flesh (i.e., the material creation). Neither could they understand the true nature of Pentecost, wherein the Spirit of God indwells human flesh.
Accordingly, the Gnostics explained the incarnation in new and innovative ways according to their Greek assumptions. Many of these assumptions have now been embedded in Christian thought. We ought to be on the alert to avoid Gnostic influence.
We Beheld His Glory
For the most part the glory residing in Jesus Christ was hidden by flesh, for Hebrews 10:20 that His flesh served as a veil to hide His glory. It was only on the Mount of Transfiguration that this veil was lifted temporarily and three of the disciples were allowed to see His glory (Matthew 17:2). John was one of those disciples who personally witnessed His glory. Peter was another. He spoke of this in 2 Peter 1:16-18, saying,
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made by Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
The third disciple to witness His glory on Mount Hermon was James, the brother of John. James left us no writings, for he was executed by Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2). Yet the church still had two eyewitnesses of His glory for many years, whose testimony they might believe.
The glory seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, John says, was “full of grace and truth.” If we perceive any glory from heaven, it can be considered genuine if it is full of grace and truth. We understand the connection between truth and light, for when our blindness is healed, we see the light and may believe the truth. But His glory is also full of grace, which is rooted in the sovereign acts of God (Romans 11:6).
The chosen ones are “the remnant of grace” (KJV), which the NASB refers to as “a remnant according to God’s gracious choice” (Romans 11:5). In order for this NOT to be “on the basis of works,” it must be taken out of man’s hands so that it is no longer done by the will of man. Therefore, we see that the New Covenant is based upon grace—that is, the promises of God, rather than the vows of men. Success does not depend upon the will of men but solely upon the will of God.
This, then, is the “grace” which is one of the two main ingredients of His “glory.” God receives the glory for success at the end, when He becomes Immanuel, and when His glory fills the whole earth, as He promised (Numbers 14:21).
The Greek word for glory is doxa. This Greek word literally means “an opinion, judgment, or view” which may draw praise or glory from others. John uses this term to accommodate a Greek-speaking audience, but we must remember that John was thinking of the Hebrew word kabod, “glory.” Hence, we must define doxa as the nearest equivalent of kabod. What does kabod mean?
The Hebrew word kabod is from the root word kabad, “weight.” It pictures someone being given glory and honor in abundance, so that the person is weighed down by it. The Greek word doxa is similar to kabod only as it may picture a weighty opinion or judgment. But the point is that we should view the glory of God as carrying weight.
This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote about “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). He was referring to our ultimate reward (glory) in terms of the kabod.
Hence, kabod falls within the sphere of the law of equal weights and measures (Leviticus 19:35, 36) that forbids multiple standards of measure. That law specifically applies to the previous law in Leviticus 19:33, 34, where Israelites were not allowed to treat non-Israelites by a different standard of righteousness and were to “love him as yourself.”
When applied to the idea of glory, the law of equal weights and measures commands us to use the same standard when measuring His glory and to apply it equally to all, whether they are Israelites or not.
The Goodness of God
When Moses was on the Mount, he asked God in Exodus 33:18, “show me Your glory.” God’s response is given in Exodus 33:19,
19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
God was not withholding His glory, nor was He substituting goodness for glory, for verse 22 says, “and it will come about, while My glory is passing by….” Therefore, we see that to see God’s glory is to see His “goodness.” John says that His glory is “full of grace and truth,” while God told Moses that His glory is His “goodness.” We may conclude, then, that the weight of God’s glory is measured by His goodness, which is, in turn, grace and truth.
A good God created the physical universe and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Jesus came to manifest the glory of God, and so “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The goodness of God also leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4 KJV). In other words, the manifestation of God’s goodness is a sovereign act of God which turns the hearts of the people and causes them to respond to that goodness by repenting.
Grace is also a sovereign act of God, for He grants grace to those who do not deserve it. His act of choosing vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor is also a sovereign act of grace, Paul says (Romans 9:11, 21-23). Most cannot comprehend Paul’s teaching on the sovereignty of God, because they think it is unfair, that is, a violation of the law of equal weights and measures. But their lack of comprehension comes only when they fail to understand the love of God that is set forth earlier in Romans 5:8-10.
The love of God, Paul says, results in “justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18). But not all are justified at the same time, for in the interim of history the sovereignty of God creates vessels of dishonor as well as vessels of honor. In other words, some are justified sooner than others, but in the end, all things will be subject to the rule of Christ, and God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28).
When we understand Romans 9 in light of Romans 5, we see that God is indeed following the standard of measure in the law of equal weights and measures. That law, Paul implies, did not forbid God the right to choose who would receive His glory first. It did not violate His divine nature, by which all goodness is measured, to choose rulers over citizens. It did not violate His divine nature to decide the “order” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 23) in which men would be raised from the dead. Such things fall within the divine rights of a sovereign God.
Nonetheless, the law demands an equal standard of weights and measures. Likewise, a sovereign God must also assume responsibility that is equal to His sovereignty. It is the same with each of us, although our level of responsibility is equal only to our level of authority. God, being sovereign, is ultimately responsible for all that He has created. He cannot claim sovereignty while deny responsibility for any failure to achieve His purpose and goal for creation.
So we see that the glory of God is measured by His goodness. His goodness leads every man to a place of repentance, “each in his own order.” Each will repent in his own time, some in this lifetime, but most at the Great White Throne judgment, where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess/profess Him as Lord (Philippians 2:10, 11).
His sovereignty is not limited by the will of men, nor does His sovereignty work against His love, as so many believe. He does not look down from heaven at a world out of control, nor does He wring His hands wishing that He could turn men’s hearts so that all could satisfy His love for all mankind. God is a winner, not a loser. In no way is His hand shortened, nor does His holiness prevent Him from saving the world.
Instead, His holiness demands that He keeps His promises. These promises are seen in all of the New Covenant oaths and vows that He made to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and all the prophets, of which I have already written many times.
The purpose of manifesting His glory in the earth is to show forth His goodness in saving all mankind, reconciling all enemies, justifying all sinners, and thus restoring peace and harmony to all that He created.
This is part 6 of a series titled "The Gospel of John" To view all parts, click the link below.