The Glory of the Son of Man as Witnessed in the Cross

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The supreme blessedness of the saints when they shall have their part with Christ above, will be to behold His glory. " Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world," Such is the desire of the Son of God for the objects of His love. Nothing can satisfy His love, short of having us with Himself, and like Himself, in the place His love has prepared for us in the Father's house. But there, too, He glory—the glory given Him of the Father, who loved Him before the foundation of the world; and, if He is our all, to behold His glory in that day will be our deepest delight. But if such will be the case then, can it be otherwise now than that the renewed nature should be moved, and that we should be led to adore and worship, as the Spirit of God, unfolds His different glories before our wondering eyes?
Let us, as the Holy Spirit enables us, seek to contemplate a little the glory of our blessed Lord as it shines out at the cross.
It was man's hour, and the power of darkness (Luke 22:5353When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:53)). Satan had entered into Judas, and he had gone out in the darkness of the night, to accomplish his foul designs. Jesus knew this, and saw the cross before Him with all that was to be accomplished there for the glory of God amid the deepening darkness of that terrible hour. Conscious of His own personal glory in the presence of this stupendous work, and knowing well what the issue would be, He said: "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 "(John 13: 31, 32).
Here we have three glorifyings:
(1) The Son of man glorified,
(2) God glorified in the Son of man.
(3) The Son of man glorified in God; that is, the Son of man goes into the glory of God.
It is to the first of these we desire to call special attention: "Now is the Son of man glorified." The thought we have before us is, that the work of the cross was the Son of man's glory. There His intrinsic moral and personal glory shone forth with a brilliancy that will never grow dim—a brilliancy that lightens up eternity, and in the light of which we shall worship forever.
There was not only the question of man's ruin and need: there was the question of God's glory in a scene where His character had been traduced, and where sin had spread its deadly blight on every side. Sin must be judged; God's character, His majesty, His righteousness, His holiness, His truth, His love, must be made good. Who could sustain the glory and majesty of God in His judgment of sin? Who in the presence of this awful judgment could declare and make manifest before the universe that " God is love "? The Son of man. He, and He alone, could do this; and to do this was His glory. That a man—the Son of man— should do this, will be the wonder of wonders throughout eternity. That this Man is the incarnate Word, the Son, the brightness of God's glory, and the exact expression of His substance, I need hardly say. Yet it is the Son of man we have before us here, and the shining forth of His glory in that work of the cross on which God's glory will rest forever.
In order to get the truth of this more fully before our hearts let us compare other Scriptures.
In Lev. 16, we have Israel's great day of atonement. Various directions are given in the opening verses. Verse 11 gives us the first real action of the day—the killing of the bullock. This is the death of the atoning victim, the foundation of all. For us it is the death of the Lord Jesus.
Now it might be supposed the next thing would be the sprinkling of the blood; but such was not the case. The first thing after the death of the victim was the burning of the incense: " And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail; and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not."
What is this incense? And what is the burning before the Lord? We learn from Ex. 30:34-3834And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: 35And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: 36And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. 37And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord. 38Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people. (Exodus 30:34‑38), that this incense was a "perfume," " pure and holy," compounded after the art of the apothecary. It was to be beaten small, and placed before the testimony. It was to be " most holy," and none was to be made like it, on pain of death. On the day of atonement it was burnt on the censer before the Lord, immediately after the killing of the bullock. Out of this burning arose a cloud—" the cloud of the incense "—which covered the mercy seat.
The killing of the bullock was in type the death of Christ. That death was under the fire of God's judgment. And what could this cloud of incense be but the sweet savor of Christ—the sweet and holy perfume which arose out of that awful burning? Not the sprinkling of the blood, but the burning of this pure and holy incense, was the first thing after the death of the holy victim. And the sweet perfume of that most holy and infinitely precious Sacrifice, was the first thing that rose up before God in the death of the Lord Jesus. That death of holy obedience told out the glory of His person, and spread abroad the savor of His perfections.
That tabernacle was the sanctuary of Jehovah's glory. The mercy seat was His throne. Between the Cherubim, over the mercy seat, dwelt the Shechinah, the visible cloud of glory, which witnessed the presence of Jehovah. The glory and majesty of Him who dwelt there must be made good on that day of atonement. And this we have presented to us in type. Out of the burning incense on the censer of the high priest arose a cloud of glory that covered the mercy seat. This was the glory that answered to the glory between the cherubim —glory equal to that glory—glory giving its value to the blood of the victim, which was to be 'sprinkled before and on the mercy seat: and so it was` said, " that he die not." In short, it is the intrinsic personal glory, and infinite perfections of the Son of man witnessed in His death on the cross, in which He sustained the full weight of the glory and majesty of God in the judgment of sin, and in that scene of deepest anguish and unparalleled sorrow,. made good the truth that " God is love," as well as " light."
Let us turn now to Ps. 22. The psalm opens with the cry, "My God, my God, why Nast thou forsaken me?" This was the cry of the Lord Jesus on the cross, where He was made sin for us; and where, under the holy judgment of God, He bore our sins. In obedience to the will of God, and for the glory of God, He had gone down under the waves and billows of divine judgment, and out of that abyss of darkness and unequaled sorrow He cried; and was not heard. Oh where was ever sorrow like His sorrow? The fathers had cried to God, and had been delivered, but to Him the heavens were brass. Lover and friend were far away -none to comfort; His enemies were against Him; the power and malice and rage of Satan were there; yet all this was as nothing compared with being forsaken of God. It was the anguish of the outer darkness. And yet, while the question Why? ascends from those awful depths, no murmur escapes His holy lips; though stroke after stroke of divine judgment falls upon Him for sins not His own, no word of resentment or rebellion is heard. On the contrary He owns the holiness of the hand that was bruising Him for sin; " but thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (verse 3). What is this, but the rising up of the cloud of incense from the burning censer, the holy perfume of the glory of the Son of man as tested under the fire of God's judgment?
In Rev. 16 we have the plagues and judgments of God visited upon men because of their wickedness, with the result that a stream of blasphemy against God issues from their wicked and rebellious hearts, the pressure of judgment bringing out just what was there. How different with Christ! The unmingled judgment of God falling upon Him brought forth the utterance of praise—" Thou art holy." It brought out just what was there—what He was. Bruise a noxious weed, and it will emit its foulest odors; bruise a lovely rose, and it will emit its sweetest perfume. So with wicked men; so with Christ.
Men ask: If wicked men are punished eternally for their sins, why did not Christ suffer eternally when He took the place of the sinner? The answer is simple. The judgment of God never produces repentance in the sinner. Its only effect is to bring out all the rebellion of a heart that is incorrigible enmity against God. Man's rebellion and enmity 'continue forever, and God's judgment abides forever. But how was it with Christ? He suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust. The full weight of God's wrath and judgment fell upon Him during the three hours of darkness.
What was the effect? Instead of enmity, resentment or rebellion, there was perfect Submission. The only answer to the crushing blows of judgment was,—" But thou art holy, 0 thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." This was the holy perfume of the burning incense. I ask, could God go on bruising forever that holy and blessed One, when every stroke of judgment only brought out the intrinsic glory and moral loveliness of what He was, the burning of the censer filling the very heavens with the sweet and holy perfume of that precious incense? It could not be. A moment must come when God must say, I am satisfied, I am glorified, and when the sword of divine judgment must be put back in its scabbard. The character of the Victim was such that it must be so. The value of the work was commensurate with the glory of the Person whose work it was.
Oh! what a Savior! what perfection! what beauty! what moral loveliness! what' glory! Who would not worship and adore in His presence! Who would not cry, Worthy, worthy, worthy, the Lamb that was slain! In His presence our souls have rest, and our hearts adore, as we gaze upon the glory that shone out amid the darkness. of Calvary,—the glory of Him who not only glorified God, but who has met all our deep need, and in the sweet savor of whose work we stand before God accepted forever, —yea, " accepted in the Beloved."