Why the Glory of God Is Not What We Think


September 23, 2020

John 8:54-59

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.


If in the kingdom of God the least is greatest, the last is first, the servant is honored, and the way up is the way down, it would stand to reason that glory might be something completely different than what we think.

We think of glory as something reserved for the champion, the greatest, and the hero. When we think of glory, we think of Olympic athletes poised on stands bending over to receive their gold medals as they bask in the glow of exultant fanfare. Glory is the stuff of Super Bowl champions and Little League victors. Something in all of us craves this kind of adulation. We have from the very start. Why? Because we equate glory with god-likeness. We equate glory with sovereignty and power.

It is quite natural for us to project our notions of grandeur and glory onto God. We love singing of the glory of God as though it were a celestial light show magnifying our concept of power into exponential infinity and projecting it onto God. And then Jesus walks onto the stage of human history and completely upends our rarified conception of glory.

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.

Remember these words in the opening line of John’s Gospel? “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14).

Now we are getting somewhere. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the glory of God might mean something like “full of grace and truth”? So what does this idea of the fullness of grace and truth remind us of? How about divine love?

To be sure, the glory of God is the sovereignty and power of God; however, Jesus reveals to us the nature of the sovereignty and power of God. God’s sovereign power is not a divine version of human sovereignty and power raised to the nth degree. It is altogether different. Jesus calls for “on earth as it is in heaven.” As fallen human beings, we get it precisely backward. When it comes to sovereignty and power, we think it must be in heaven as it is on earth.*

The glory of God is the love of God, which we see in its fullest expression on divine display at the cross of Jesus—unfathomably full of grace and truth. While his entire life is the cross, Jesus’ finest hour comes on Good Friday. In the hour of his greatest glory, he wears human sovereignty as a crown of thorns. On the darkest day of human history, the Light of the World shines brightest. On the day when the Son of God is emptied of his life, grace and truth are poured out in their fullest measure. In the hour when all of the vitriolic hatred of the human race is unleashed on this sinless suffering servant, the love of God reveals itself as the very essence of divine sovereignty.

*Here’s a stunning twist for my theologian friends. IMHO, much of the modern-day conception of (hyper) Calvinism is ironically anthropomorphic on the issue of the nature of God’s sovereignty.


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who reveals to us what divine sovereignty and power look like. Thank you for showing us the fullness of your glory in radiance of his merciful face, full of grace and truth. Come, Holy Spirit, and open the eyes of our hearts that we might see God, high and lifted up, the train of his robe—the cross—filling up all the earth. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


1. What do you think of this tendency we have to think of God’s sovereignty and power through the lens of in heaven as it is on earth?

2. How do you define divine glory? How do you contrast that with earthly glory?

3. What are the implications of the way Jesus reveals the truth of the glory of God? What will it mean to share in this glory, as he wills to share it with us?

Today, and every Wednesday at noon central time, we gather on a global Zoom call to sow together for a great awakening in prayer. It is powerful. Would you join us today? ZOOM LINK HERE.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

2 Responses

  1. Answer 1: I believe that unless the Spirit of Truth enables us to view the life of Christ through eyes of faith, we can’t possibly understand God’s glory the way you have described it. And yes, I had already arrived at the conclusion that by centering their theology on the sovereignty of God, the Calvinists, connected several dots that were never meant to be connected and arrived at some wrong headed conclusions. This flows from the use of human reasoning.
    Answer 2: I would define God’s glory as the radiance of divine love, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
    Answer 3: The implications for me are spelled out by Paul in his letter to the Church at Philippi 2:1-11. In other words., we are to have the mind of Christ and to be willing to follow him by the Way of the Cross.

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