Within God’s holy, inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient Word there runs a biblical theme as wide as the Amazon and as deep as the Mariana Trench. This theme concerns the humiliation and exaltation of Christ Jesus, or more simply His sufferings and glory. We read of this in numerous passages including those below. Take a minute to read through and meditate upon them:
“the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” 1 Peter 1:11
“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Luke 24:26
“5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:9-10
Commenting on this grand theme, John Owen writes, “So much as we know of Christ, his sufferings, and his glory, so much do we understand of the Scripture, and no more. These are the two heads of the mediation of Christ and his kingdom, and this is their order which they communicate unto the church, —first suffering’s, and then glory.”
If we observe the sufferings and glory of Christ throughout Scripture and meditate deeply upon the significance, namely that the King of Glory condescended to take upon Himself human nature and suffer at the hands of sinful men all manner of abuse and reproach (let us not forget the propitiation of God’s wrath) yet His reward was the satisfaction of the Father and exaltation of His name above all others, we will be better equipped to endure the sufferings that mark our path in this life knowing well that glory too awaits us.
2 Timothy 2:12a KJV “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him”
Conversely, if ever we are consumed by the attractions of this world and submit to the “desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), we will be all too ready to embrace glory in this life thus reversing the order of the trail that Christ has blazed for those who would follow Him. Far too often we can observe those who would chase the temporal glory of this life only to see it fade before their eyes. Some who would be so desperate to either return to that glory once achieved or resigned to avoid humiliation and suffering, they often attempt to manage their own escape; as was evident most recently with the departure of a famed actor, failing to realize that apart from Christ, this life is their glory and only destruction and judgment await them in the next life.
For the believer, we must constantly be aware that suffering is to be expected. As the Apostle Peter reminds us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
Perhaps most notably we may turn to Romans 8 and find an anchor for the Christian soul during times of suffering so that we may receive grace and encouragement in our time of need, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18ff Sufferings and glory.
Concluding then with a final thought from Owen:
“When the sun is under a total eclipse, he loseth nothing of his native beauty, light, and glory. He is still the same that he was from the beginning,—a “great light to rule the day.” To us he appears as a dark, useless meteor; but when he comes by his course to free himself from the lunar interposition, unto his proper aspect towards us, he manifests again his native light and glory. So was it with the divine nature of Christ, as we have before declared. He veiled the glory of it by the interposition of the flesh, or the assumption of our nature to be his own; with this addition, that therein he took on him the “form of a servant,”—of a person of mean and low degree. But this temporary eclipse being past and over, it now shines forth in its infinite lustre and beauty, which belongs unto the present exaltation of his person. And when those who beheld him here as a poor, sorrowful, persecuted man, dying on the cross, came to see him in all the infinite, uncreated glories of the divine nature, manifesting themselves in his person, it could not but fill their souls with transcendent joy and admiration. And this is one reason of his prayer for them whilst he was on the earth, that they might be where he is to behold his glory; for he knew what ineffable satisfaction it would be unto them for evermore.”
As with our Lord, so also with us, we must embrace suffering to taste glory.
Soli Deo Gloria – For the Glory of God alone