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And We Beheld His Glory

Pastor Dennis Smith

The apostle John wrote of Christ, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He is referring of course to the Incarnation. But we might ask ourselves what John meant when he said, “And we beheld his glory.” How was it that the apostles had beheld Christ’s glory?

One answer to that question might be that John was referring to the episode on the Mount of Transfiguration. On that occasion, John was present with Peter and James when they saw Jesus “transfigured” before them. Jesus’ glory was unveiled to their sight in a special way, as his face and garments shone brightly, and Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with him. Matthew, Mark, and Luke record this incident although, interestingly, John does not. Still, John may have had that experience in mind when he penned John 1:14.

The word "glory” is used a number of ways in the Bible. It can refer to radiance or brilliance (Hebrews 1:3). It can mean a demonstration of power (Romans 6:4), or an awe-inspiring state of magnificence (Matthew 4:8). It can refer to splendor, even of man, in the natural realm (Matthew 6:29). The meaning of glory frequently includes the notion of praise and honor by another (Isaiah 42:12); Peter uses the terms “majesty” and “honor” in the same breath with “glory” as he refers to the Transfiguration in 2 Peter 1:16–18. When it comes to the Old Testament, the basic word for glory is rooted in the notion of something being weighty.

But I think John, the only gospel writer who did not document the Transfiguration, gives us insight into another sense in which Jesus’ glory had been revealed to men, and perhaps he was referring to this in John 1:14. In the very next chapter of his gospel, John relates the miracle that Jesus performed in changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana. He says, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” From this verse it would seem that Christ’s glory had been revealed not only in a mystical way on the mount, but also in the supernatural signs that he performed throughout his earthly ministry. Nicodemus had said to Jesus, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” There was something weighty about the presence of Christ.

So when John said that they had seen Christ’s glory, he may well have been giving testimony to the honor that the Father had bestowed upon the Son as evidenced by his acts. And an amazing truth is that the children of God will share in Christ’s glory at his coming. Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (emphasis mine). Let this truth encourage and motivate us in our Christian walk no matter our circumstances.

Finally, I’m sorry this post has been somewhat longer than some, but I think the topic warrants nothing less.

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