(January 16, 1991)
He had not been on earth very long. He was a relatively obscure figure in His day, a public figure for only three years. Granted, He did mighty miracles in that time, but He became close friends with only a few men and women. It wasn’t long before He was despised and ridiculed. His friends all deserted Him and He was put to death for something He didn’t do.
Just before His death, Jesus Christ, God the Son, prayed to God the Father, “I have glorified You on earth: I have finished the work You gave me to do.” How we would react if a modern-day preacher faced the same fate Jesus did with those same words? At least with raised eyebrows!
So what did He do that glorified His Father? Born to a virgin? Doing miracles and healing diseases? Being sinless? Revealing to us what God is like? Demonstrating holiness, mercy, truth and grace? Walking on water? Calming storms? Changing water to wine? Showing compassion for sinners? Being angry with the self-righteous? Offering forgiveness to those who believed? Condemning those who rejected Him?
Certainly all that glorifies God in the minds of some, but when He did those things some accused Him of being in cahoots with Satan, even that He was Satan himself. Not everyone saw the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
Many people have a fixed concept of God. He is either loving and kind, indifferent, or rules from heaven with an iron club. What most don’t know is that He came to earth as a man and died for those who hate Him -- so their sins could be forgiven.
This is significant. Because the Lord’s wrath against sin is so great, all sinners should be cast from His presence. But in love and mercy, He opened the way for sinners to approach Himself. He did it by coming to us, identifying with us in every way, except sinning. Then He took on Himself the horrible penalty of our sin: death and separation from the Father.
When He said, “I have finished the work...” He knew what was going to happen and could speak as if it were already done. As His last breath was drawn, He shouted from the cross, “It is finished” and then, as in no other of His actions, the Son glorified the Father.
Humanly, it seems dying to glorify God is rather a waste and a disgrace. To the person who sees no sin in themselves, who sees no need for God to save them, Jesus was a fool. To them, He didn’t glorify God at all. Yet Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Calvary was not a mistake. It was the crowning touch. There the glory of God was fully made known. His great heart loves us so much that He would suffer Himself rather than condemn us to an eternity apart from Him. We would know nothing of that greatness unless He demonstrated it the way He did.
It was by the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man. Think of that. Grace is undeserved blessing from God. The death of Christ was a blessing. He had the honor of being worthy to bear the sins of man. Only a perfect man could do it and since there is no such creature, God Himself become that man.
What Jesus did may be a mere blip in the history books. It may be a shame and a disgrace to the casual observer. Even those who believe in Him get caught up in the affairs of this life and pause not nearly often enough to reflect on the significance of the sacrifice of Christ. Through His life, but more so through His death, He reveals to us the incredible glory of God.