I am fascinated by the creative power of words. As a communicator I believe in being as precise and clear as possible about the words we choose.
Some words we use only to speak of heavenly things. And if you’re like me, these words can feel hollow, often-repeated and familiar on the tongue, yet lacking that earthly, tangible context to anchor their meaning.
Glorify is just such a word.
Glorify (doxázō)…to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.
Jesus Introduced Us to Glory
Glorify is found 64 times in the Bible, yet its first appearance coincides with the birth of Jesus:
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.
The shepherds heard God’s promise spoken to them by angels: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). They acted on what they heard and went immediately to Bethlehem in search of the Christ child. When they found him, they witnessed to those gathered, including Mary, about what they had seen and heard.
Isn’t it interesting that this first experience of glory did not result from seeing an angel for what was surely the first time in the shepherds’ lives? It came from recognizing God at work in their lives.
Glory is our natural response to experiencing God.
The Son Lives to Glorify the Father
Jesus performed signs and wonders throughout His earthly ministry in order to glorify God: “It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”(John 11:4)
- The paralyzed man: When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God….The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:31)
- A woman with a disabling spirit: And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. (Luke 13:13)
- One leper out of ten: One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, glorifying God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15)
- The blind beggar: And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, glorifying God. (Luke 18:43)
The Father Glorifies the Son
Following the miracles, John is the only one of the gospel writers who continues to pursue glory. The next cycle occurs as God empowers Jesus’ words and actions to in turn glorify His Son; that is, to reveal His dignity and worth to people so that it becomes clear, undeniable and acknowledged.
“If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.”
Jesus’ ultimate glory, of course, comes in His work on the cross.
“Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.”
We Glorify Father and Son through the Holy Spirit
And here’s the cool part. Jesus invites us in on this glory gig. As we are reconciled to God by believing in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we become an instrument of God’s Spirit, completing the cycle of glory, so to speak, that others might come to see and know the Father and the Son.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
All of the remaining references to glory…in John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and throughout the letters to the early church, are focused on being witnesses, heavenly windows, through which others can glimpse the light of God’s glory in a world filled with darkness.
The final citation, in 1 Peter: 4:11, puts a fine point on it:
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I hope you have a GLORIOUS day!