In the first of these reflections, we might begin by considering the way in which Christ is the only representation of God’s glory to his people. When Jesus speaks of “my glory” in John 17:24, that can be thought of either in terms of the essential glory of his divine nature, or in terms of the peculiar glory which the Father has “given” him through his willingness to redeem sinners in human flesh. In other words, alongside his glory as the eternal God, there is a unique glory that accompanies his Messianic vocation to conquer sin and death. Indeed, there is something about the Son’s essential divine glory that will always remain invisible to his creatures (1 Tim 6:16). But his Messianic glory is something which has been clearly and graciously revealed for all those who look on him in faith. To put it another way, if the divine Son is always essentially the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3), he makes that glorious image truly visible to us in the form of our own human nature – “in the face of Christ”, Paul says (2 Cor 4:6).
When searching for the glory of God, then, we must not peer behind the Christ who came in the flesh. We must not look beyond his suffering for sinners, beyond his stunning victory over the grave, and ascension to the heavenly throne. To do so is a very dangerous business indeed – it is to court fate with a consuming fire. But to gaze upon the face of the glorious Christ as he is reflected to us in the gospel is to encounter a grace that has the power to transform us into its very likeness (2 Cor 3:18; John 1:18). This is the eternal “weight of glory” for which every Christian longs in a passing world of trouble and sorrow (2 Cor 4:17).
But what exactly do we behold in this reflection of Christ’s glorious person? Two dimensions are worth pondering – God’s wisdom and his love.
Consider the infinite wisdom of God that is treasured up in him. Job once asked, “where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?” (Job 28:12). The answer, of course, is that God’s wisdom is revealed in all his works. And if we fear and trust in him, he will lead us to where it is found (Job 28:23-28). But of all those works, nothing compares to what he has revealed to us through the “boundless riches of Christ”, in whom is made plain a “mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things,” Paul says (Eph 3:9-10). Paul speaks of the gospel as “God’s wisdom”, a hidden secret that God has been hankering to let out of the bag for all eternity. And the best part of it is that he has “destined” it “for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7). How much do all the stained glories of our world fade into oblivion by comparison?
Consider too the love of God. John says, “God is love” (1 John 3:12) – and we’ll never really be able to fathom what that love looks like on the inside, in that holy and eternal fellowship that is the Triune life. But we do know what it looks like on the outside: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9; Rom 5:8).
To gaze upon the wisdom and love of God revealed to us in Christ is the most joyful sight of God any creature of God can ever possess. Turning off the screens, the Netflix, the noise, and just taking time to slow down on these truths will reward us with the kind of refreshment and peace that is no less than little shoots of Christ’s glorious life beginning to take shape within us.