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Glory!

“Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered. Martha, the dead man’s sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!” Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?” John 11:39-40.

Doxa, the Greek word for “glory”, is a key word in John’s Gospel. In the Prologue, John tells how he and other followers of Jesus “beheld his glory” (John 1:14) … a “one-of-a-kind” glory, as The Message puts it … the glory of God that had been given by the Father to the Son. And when John uses such language he is seeing in his mind’s eye the way that, back in the days of the Exodus, God’s very presence would fill the tabernacle that the journeying Hebrews had made for him and how that presence would reveal itself by the glory that would shine out of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35). So with Jesus, says John: God became present in the tent of Jesus’ flesh (the word “dwelt” in John 1.14 is literally “tabernacled”) and the presence of God became manifest in the glory that shone out of him.

But this “shining” was not a bright light in any physical sense of the word (except, of course, on just one occasion on the Mount of Transfiguration) but the light of transforming works of power that were of an order not belonging to this earth. So it was that this glory shone out of Jesus when he turned water into wine at Cana (John 2:11) and now it is about to shine out of him again as he restores his friend, Lazarus, to life.

Supremely, of course, this transformational power that is the shining of the glory of God on earth was later to be seen in the death and the resurrection of Jesus through which the transformation of all things has begun. And perhaps that is where I should let my thoughts on glory lead me this morning. The glory of God did not vanish with the ascension of Jesus. It is still to be seen wherever the transforming power of God is at work through the Holy Spirit; and Paul’s great dox-ology in Ephesians 3 — “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” — is a prayer that glory may be seen in the church as well as in Jesus, throughout all generations — including mine!

Lord Jesus, please so work in and through me and the church of which I am part that, this very day, others might see your glory. Amen.

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