The Glories of Christ as the Son of Man: The Son of Man Glorified and Glorifying God

John 13:31‑32  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 9
When the Greeks desired to see Jesus, He said to Andrew and Philip, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” The glory of which He thus speaks is rather the result of His work on the cross than the cross itself. It looks onward, we apprehend, as pointed out in the last chapter, to the day of His glory in this world, when as Son of man He will be the Head of the nations (Psa. 18:4343Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me. (Psalm 18:43)), and when all things will be subdued under His feet. But when He says in the scripture now to be considered, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself and shall straightway glorify Him,” it is the cross and the work done there, together with His consequent exaltation, which are in view. This fact shows both the fullness of Scripture and also the need for its careful consideration. The same words in different connections may mean entirely different things, and hence the necessity for the study of the context under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It will be profitable, therefore, before examining these profound words, to point out the circumstances under which they were uttered. The Lord had been teaching His disciples through His own blessed example, and placing them thereby under the obligation to wash one another’s feet: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-1514If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (John 13:14‑15)). Thereupon He proceeded to draw back the veil which concealed the traitor in the midst of His own. And with what infinite sorrow and compassion for this poor slave of Satan He did it! We read that after He had recalled to them the scripture, “He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me,” He was troubled in spirit and testified and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.” It was not simply one of you, but it was one of you. Ah! it was that which troubled the Lord in spirit, that one of the twelve, one of His chosen companions, one of those who had heard His blessed words of grace and seen the miracles of His power, one of the objects of His fostering care — that such a one should have yielded to the incitements of Satan to betray Him. Then, in answer to the question of the disciple who was lying on Jesus’ breast, Jesus said, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” Then we have the solemn statement that after the sop Satan entered into Judas. Morally, it was all over with him from this moment. Hitherto Satan had led this poor man, governed him through his lust for money, and thereby hardened his heart against all the gracious influences of the Lord’s presence, of His words and works; but at this juncture, as if his day of grace were past, Satan entered and took full possession of the man, leading him captive for the accomplishment of his will. All this is surely implied in the words of Jesus, which were not understood by the other disciples, “That thou doest, do quickly.” What a threefold revelation is thus made: first, that nothing was hidden, nor could be hidden, from the eyes of the Lord; second, that man’s heart is capable of all iniquity; and last, that Satan spares no artifices in his ceaseless activities for the destruction of souls.
The traitor thus exposed went immediately out; and it was night. It was night actually, but assuredly we may attach a deeper meaning to these significant words. “As long as I am in the world,” Jesus had said, “I am the light of the world.” Judas, captivated by the devil, went out from the rays of that blessed light; and, hence, of necessity, when the door closed behind him, it was night — the night of death — the awful darkness of which enwrapped his soul forever; for he had entered that land of which Job speaks — “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness,” because, it may be added, there lies upon it the judgment of God.
No one may venture to penetrate, or could penetrate, into the sorrows of the Lord’s own heart through this scene, but one cannot fail to perceive that it was a relief to His spirit when Judas had gone out; for the evangelist would seem to call attention to this by saying, “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” It was indeed the treachery of Judas which brought up before His soul what lay before Him in His conflict with Satan’s power on the cross. Satan had tested Him at the outset; but, foiled and defeated, he had departed from Him “for a season.” That season was now ended, and his seduction of Judas was but the commencement of his final onslaught, the issue of which, blessed be God, could only be his complete overthrow. For it was through death that Jesus destroyed (“annulled”) him that had the power of death, and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Another thing may be noted. The Lord’s heart was restrained by the presence of Judas, and thus it was only after the traitor had gone out that He made the ineffably blessed communications contained in verses 31 and 32. And do we — we who are gathered out to His precious name — do we not know from sad experience what it is to limit the out-flowings of the Lord’s heart by the presence of sin? Alas! how often do our feeble meetings testify to this! The Lord may be in the midst of His people as fully as He was with His own on this occasion, but how can He display Himself to our hearts unless we are in moral suitability to His presence, unless we have put our shoes from off our feet because the place whereon we stand is holy ground? May the Lord Himself fasten this instruction upon our hearts in the power of the Holy Spirit!
We may now pass to the consideration of the communications made. We cannot doubt that the passage from verse 31 to chapter 14:3 hangs together; but we will, in the first place, confine ourselves to what we have in verses 31 and 32. It may be at once perceived that there are mainly three things: the Son of man glorified on the cross; God glorified in Him, the Son of man; and last, the Son of man glorified by God in Himself. These we may, however feeble our apprehensions, proceed to meditate upon in the order given.
It may be observed at once that the true character of what was before the Lord may be gathered by the form of His words. As we read it in our translation it is, “Now is the Son of man glorified.” What the Lord really says is, “Now has the Son of man been glorified.” The incident of Judas had brought before Him the cross and its awful character; and, as having already passed through in spirit all that it involved for Him, He could say, “Now has the Son of man been glorified.” The issue of the cross was thus foreseen and stated in the full assurance of victory over the whole of Satan’s power. It might be going too far to regard it as a triumphant outburst, and yet it partakes of this character in that He looks right through all the darkness of the cross and onward to the glory in which He would be glorified at the right hand of God.
What then is to be understood by the expression, “Now is the Son of man glorified?” It will be seen at once that the reference is not to His actual glory on which He entered after His resurrection, but that it is rather to the display of His moral glory in His death on the cross. All His blessed perfections came out in a new way and under new circumstances. In all His sojourn in this world, in every step of His pathway, He was ever the perfect One, ever devoted in His entire obedience to the Father’s glory, so that He could testify that He always did the things which pleased Him. He was thus always the object of the Father’s complacent delight, as indeed it is said, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” It was not, therefore, that He was more perfect — this could not be — on the cross than in His life. But the truth is that, searched and tested as He had never been before, by the holy fire of judgment through which He passed when forsaken of God, there was a greater manifestation of His moral beauties and excellencies. All these came out so richly and so fully that He became enshrined, as it were, in their brightness and halo. The light is ever light, but when the rays of the sun are seen playing upon a dark thundercloud, their brightness and beauty are intensified. So with our blessed Lord — all that made up the perfection of His life toward God and toward man was enhanced and magnified by the thick darkness of the cross. All that He is was there expressed and glorified.
Let a few words of another be given, that the heart of the reader may comprehend by the power of the Holy Spirit this character of the cross, and be more deeply affected by its contemplation. “Now, in Jesus on the cross, the Son of man has been glorified in a much more admirable way than He will be even by the positive glory that belongs to Him under that title. He will, we know, be clothed with that glory; but, on the cross, the Son of man bore all that was necessary for the perfect display of the glory of God. The whole weight of that glory was brought to bear upon Him to put Him to the proof, that it might be seen whether He could sustain it, verify and exalt it; and that by setting it forth in the place where, but for this, sin concealed that glory and, so to speak, gave it impiously the lie. Was the Son of man able to enter into such a place, to undertake such a task and maintain His place without failure unto the end? This Jesus did. The majesty of God was to be vindicated against the insolent rebellion of His creature; His truth, which had threatened Him with death, maintained; His justice established against sin (who could withstand it?); and, at the same time, His love fully demonstrated.” And who, we may inquire, was sufficient for this glorious work, to accomplish all these ends, except the Son of man? There was no other in all God’s universe, no creature in heaven, however exalted, who could have stepped in and endured all that the glory of God required on account of what man was, and of what he had done. If this be so, as all Scripture testifies, we can apprehend a little of the meaning of the Lord’s words, “Now is the Son of man glorified.”
All this may well invite us to a more constant meditation upon this aspect of the death of Christ — we mean the aspect which brings so vividly before us, not only what He effected on the cross for God, though this be the foundation of all eternal blessing, of the vast universe of bliss, nor even what He secured for His people, though without this we never could have been in association with Him before God, but also that which brings out in such a marvelous manner the glories of His Person. The more we are affected by these, the more our hearts will be conducted into fellowship with God concerning His beloved Son, and the better we shall understand the greatness of the work which He accomplished on the cross.