Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me….. Jn. 17:24
We who follow Christ have been invited to be with Him, where He is, that we may behold His glory. We are conditioned by religious speaking and thinking to view the scenario presented in this passage as a future prospect, something that will take place after this present earthly life is over and we join Christ in a future glorious eternity.
But we have already entered the Kingdom of God. It is the Father’s good pleasure not to withhold the Kingdom from us. The Kingdom is not locked into a chronological order of events. It is outside time and freely available to all those who, through Christ, enter it. The Kingdom is now, here, present within us. (Matt. 13:11; Mark 1:14,15; Luke 12:32; Luke 17:20,21; Luke 22:29)
What if Jesus’ prayer to His Father that we might be with Him ‘where I AM’, beholding His glory, is not something to look forward to, but something to seize upon right now, this hour, this minute? What if that glory we long to behold is before our faces this very moment? What if, having had our faces unveiled, we are still seeing through veiled eyes and missing the splendor of Christ gazing right back at us? (2 Cor. 3:18)
Peter, James and John saw His glory with their earthly eyes. Many years later both John and Peter remembered every detail and wrote about what they had witnessed on the mountaintop with Jesus:
….we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
Could it be that the glory of Christ is manifesting among us right now? Might we be with Him, where He is, beholding His glory always, just as He asked of His Father? I believe so.
I believe that even as we work through the familiar routines of daily earthly life, our spiritual selves can be beholding the glory of Christ, drinking in His beauty and basking in His majesty.
His glory is not confined to another time and realm. His glory is ours to behold now and forever, when we choose to walk in and by the Spirit of God.
So impacted were the three disciples by the sight of Jesus, their rabbi, their teacher, in all the brilliant glory that was His as the Son of God, they did not speak of the experience until many days and events later (Luke 9:36). But there was something else Peter, James and John beheld on that mountaintop.
They witnessed Jesus walk away from the glory and back down the mountain.
Let’s take a selah pause to consider that for a moment. Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the One whose Name is above all and whose glory is without end, walked out of His divine glory and back down the mountain into the sordid environment of a humanity that was plotting to murder Him. And He chose to do so willingly and determinedly.
Those three pairs of eyes that had beheld their Master’s face unforgettably transformed and bathed in glorious light on the mountaintop, who had entered the Cloud of glory with Him, would soon behold His face bloodied and battered from the blows of human fists. One of them would see His brow torn by thorns, His hands and feet pierced by cruel and heavy nails, and watch as He was executed as a common criminal on a Roman stake. And each of them would know and struggle to understand that Jesus, whose rightful, eternal glory had been revealed to them, had knowingly chosen this path.
We in the Body of Christ like to speak of glory in vague, ethereal terms. We have this idea it’s some mystical feeling that God chooses to let us into when we’ve been behaving ourselves. We rarely speak about or even consider the idea that true glory is somehow linked to suffering. But Jesus did. “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” He pointed out to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:26 NASB).
And to be perfectly clear about it I am not in any way suggesting there’s glory in suffering for suffering’s sake. Some Christians throughout history have tried to get closer to God by putting their bodies through various kinds of self-inflicted suffering, mistakenly in my view. They have whipped themselves, starved themselves and even had themselves crucified in an effort to become holier. Punishing our bodies is not God glorifying – it is self-glorifying.
The scriptures do not teach us to deliberately seek out suffering for Christ’s sake. What they do teach us is that in whatever suffering God allows to come our way, we have the privilege of entering into the sacred fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, because He suffered in our place. We can add nothing to the suffering of Christ on our behalf.
The quest for personal glory is deeply embedded in every one of us. It goes to the heart of the human condition, having been deceptively planted in us in the Garden: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, you will be like God…..” (Gen. 3:5)
Jesus, as the last Adam, actively and purposefully walked away from His legitimate claim to glory, in order to identify with us in our suffering, saying:
He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. (Jn. 7:18)
The glory He sought was His Father’s, not His own. He reversed the ancient downward spiral of self-glory-seeking established by the first humans, a pathway that has caused countless wars, claimed unknown numbers of human lives and caused untold misery for all humanity.
We are living in an hour when Christ followers are enduring suffering and martyrdom on an unprecedented scale. It is not for us, relatively safe in our Western style Christianity, to pontificate about who are the ‘real Christians’ and who are not, based on our own doctrinal views and opinions. Christ knows who are His, and draws them into His fellowship of sufferings in a holy place that is hidden from all those who prefer to embrace a Crossless Christianity.
There is no glory without the Cross. If we are to behold Him in His glory, now, not as some future promise but as a present reality, it will be through spiritual eyes that have not turned away from His Cross, and through lives that have tasted the fellowship of His sufferings.
His glory can be known and beheld by us, we can be with Him where He is, for He is the great I AM, Lord of time and space. He has opened up a new pathway back into His divine glory and invited us to join Him there, where He is.
The glory is His, but we may freely partake. It’s our destiny. Glory!!
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Rev. 21:11
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2015 and beyond. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.