As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son.” John 13:31-32
I have been rolling these words around in my head this morning. I read them quite by accident on my way somewhere else to read something else. But they have lodged themselves in my mind and captured my thoughts.
For one thing, it’s captivating simply because it is speaking of the glory of God. There is something about this notion of God’s glory that is—quite obviously—awe inspiring. I suppose that’s why it’s called glory.
But here we find the idea of God’s glory changing hands, so to speak, between Father and Son. Now of course, Father is Son and Son is Father, for both are one God with the Spirit. But still there is something beautiful and compelling about the Father receiving glory from the Son and so reciprocating by giving glory to the Son. It feels very much like there is something I don’t quite comprehend going on here; something powerful and amazing in the way God is glorifying and honoring himself through service and sacrifice to himself.
I am struck by the realization that glory comes to the Father as the Son submits and gives himself up for the world. It isn’t that God has no glory a part from the death of Christ, but more that somehow, through Jesus’ death and love-sacrifice more glory is being brought to the Father. And in reciprocating fashion, the Father then gives glory to the Son because of his submission and sacrifice.
This is the way God’s wisdom. Glory isn’t achieved through oppression of the weaker or with conquering power. Glory comes through submission to the Father. Glory comes through sacrifice and love.
Again, a few chapters later in John’s gospel we find Jesus praying. And again the glory is given and received. Again through submission and obedience.
I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. John 17:4-5
I think this is why in Romans 8, when Paul speaks of how we will be heirs of God’s glory, he also ties that glory to suffering.
And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17
It isn’t that God enjoys suffering, or that he wants us to “earn” it. We can’t earn it and God is abundantly clear about that all through the Bible. But I think we see in the interaction between Father and Son that glory comes to the Father by submission and obedience, and that when obedience is given to him—which brings him glory—he in turn gives glory. As he did for his Son, so he will—to a lesser degree—to us his children.
Glory comes to the Father by way of our surrender and obedience. Surrender to Christ and obedience to his ways. As glory goes to the Father through our submission to Christ he in turns makes us heirs and children. Heirs and children who share in his glory.