Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Every time Jesus talks about His glory He is talking about his bitter suffering and death. That’s it. When Jesus talks about entering into his glory he is talking about Good Friday. When Jesus speaks about God’s glory he is speaking about his death – Good Friday. It should be noted that there will be roughly half the people here on Good Friday than on Easter. When it comes to our spiritual lives folks generally prefer Easter over Good Friday. Easter is more palatable. It’s more in line with our personal version of God’s glory. There is trumpets, banners, easter lilies, and hot breakfast. And who doesn’t like that?
But Good Friday is different. We enter our pews in silence and see God beaten and whipped like an animal. The crowds spit on him. They nail him to a tree and mock him. He is naked and cries out “My God my God why have you forsaken me.” Who can look without turning his face in horror? What glory could there possibly be in that miserable sight?
On holy Wednesday we must contemplate this holy mystery. If you do not love the cross you are no Christian. If you do not want God the crucified you have God at all. St. Paul writes “I have resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.”
Jesus makes atonement for the sins of the whole world. Lifted up high on the cross – his lips crack under the heat of the Father’s wrath. He cries out to his executioners and he prays for you when he says “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” God stretched out his hands and embraces the whole world with all of its sin, all of its immorality, all of its hatred against himself – all of its rebellion.
This isn’t a mystery you can set aside and say, well I already understand that. I know that already. Of course Jesus forgives me my sins.
No. There is joy in this. Your life which you have made a mess of has been redeemed by Christ. There is happiness in this. Because it means you can lie down with your spouse and feel no shame. It means you can look your own father in the eye with nothing to be embarrassed about, even if you don’t live up to his expectations. It means the sun shines brighter, the sky becomes a deeper shade of blue. The birds sing in a more lovely way. Your food tastes better and your cheap beer tastes like the expensive stuff.
All because God’s love has destroyed the evil that dwells within you. Your life is good because of Good Friday. God loves sinners and God loves you. You can at last hold you head up.
When Jesus speaks of the glory of God he is speaking of His own crucifixion. If you want holiness and righteousness, and if you want a little glory for yourself you can only find it at the cross. Not up in the clouds but down here. In the muck and slop of a sinful and messy world, in your ordinary somewhat fractured relationships with those closest to you. Find glory in your love for one another. Both in giving it and receiving it.
In tonight’s Gospel when he tells his disciples to love one another, he does it while setting the table. He takes bread and wine and shows them the altar that father Abraham had seen on Mount Moriah 2000 years earlier. And now you too by the eyes of faith can see what he saw – except all much clearer. God will provide for you. For he gives you Himself. And what else do you really need? In Jesus name.