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A Glorious Glimpse of Glory

December 15, 2014

God symbolThe incarnation. That single word is the name of a rich mine of theological treasure. Incarnation is the term by which we describe God the Son being conceived in Mary’s womb, wrapping His eternal deity in mortal flesh and walking this earth in full humanity. Philippians 2 describes the surpassing excellence of Jesus’ humility, “But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” Jesus is God become flesh. Jesus is God incarnate. When Jesus walked upon the earth, His deity was hidden. His glory was covered. There was nothing about Him that made men look at Him and identify Him as something remarkable. He had no magnificent form or beauty to attract the attention of the masses. Throughout His life Jesus’ glory as God was obscured by the rags of His humanity, except for one occasion. That occasion we call the transfiguration.

On an unknown mountainside, Jesus was transfigured. Jesus’ outward appearance was transformed before the eyes of the disciples. In His transformation, Jesus’ glory showed through the fleshly veil. The brilliance of His glory broke through and illuminated Him before the eyes of those watching. Jesus’ form was changed to reveal a glimpse of the majesty obscured by His flesh. His appearance briefly reflected His essence. The transfiguration is the brief revelation of God the Son’s glory to the eyes of three men.

On the hillside, Jesus is plainly revealed to be God the Son. Moses and Elijah, saints long dead, have come down from heaven to speak with Jesus, and what they discuss is Jesus’ impending death! These two men speak with God the Son about that which all the law and the prophets spoke of, Jesus death. The Old Testament is abundantly clear that the Messiah was going to suffer death for the sin of men. A plain reading of the Psalms, Isaiah and Daniel make it clear the Messiah was going to die. Any thoughtful consideration of the Levitical sacrifices would lead one to conclude sin could only be covered by sacrificial death. Even the earliest promises in Genesis indicate the promised Deliverer could only bring deliverance by taking on Himself the punishment of sin. All the law and the prophets speak of the Messiah’s suffering. The whole reason Jesus became a man was to die.

As we remember the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, let us remember why He came. He did not come to make our days merry and bright. He did not come to remind us to be kind to others. He did not come to show us the value of giving to others. He did not come to teach us how to love one another. He came to die. He came to suffer God’s infinite wrath on sin, to endure the guilt, shame and curse of mankind and to give Himself in the place of sinful man. He came that through His death each person might be forgiven all his crimes against God, be made righteous and be brought into everlasting peace with the Father. The lowly birth in a manger was just the beginning of a long road of suffering that ended on the cross. God the Son set aside all His infinite glory to clothe Himself in inglorious humanity and then to suffer the most ignoble fate of all. The eternal God, second person of the Triune Godhead, suffered death in place of of men. In the final analysis Jesus’ lowest act of humble service is seen to be the most glorious work of all. As we remember the babe in the manger, let us remember His glory forsaken for the pardon of sin. Let us lift Him up in His glory and worship Him as our God and our Savior.

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