The Glorification of God and Jesus

This coming Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Easter in Year C of the Lectionary Cycle. In yesterday’s post we explored what was meant by the word “glory” in the Old Testament Scriptures as a way of considering what the apostles and disciples might think when Jesus says to them: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”  The term is more robust than a single one-line definition. May it can be best said as the revelation of God’s godliness to people in the events of their lives – at least as far as humanity can experience such things. But when experienced, one’s thoughts and being turn to encounter God.

The immediate reference to Judas’ departure, like the coming of the Greeks (12:20-23), signals to Jesus that a new stage of the glorification has been reached. The betrayal has begun, and so “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” This verse and the following verse are particularly difficult to translate.  The cross is itself the revelation of divine glory and the way for Jesus to share the divine life with his followers. It is also the way for God to glorify the Son in himself (v. 32), which he will do at once as Jesus returns to his presence (17:5). Just as Jesus’ keynote address focused on the relation between the Father and the Son (5:19-27), so also his farewell discourse begins from that same fundamental point. This relationship is central to this Gospel.

Let us explore in more depth what is meant by “glorification.” Glorification can refer to either the giving of praise or the manifestation of that which is worthy of praise. Perhaps it is as simple as Jesus referring to the manifestation of God now taking place rather than the praise it will bring forth in the future. More likely it refers to a mutual glorification imbedded within the mystery of the Trinity in which all personae actively glorify and passively are glorified within the same flow of Love. 

What is clear is that in the Fourth Gospel the glorifying of the Son of Man involves suffering and death as well as sovereign power—Jesus enters his glory via the cross. That is why Judas’ departure to betray Jesus elicited the statement ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified’. However, the death of Jesus was not just his passage to glory. In death itself Jesus was glorified. In giving his life for sinful humans the glory of his gracious character was most clearly seen. And it did not stop there, for Jesus said that when the Son of Man was glorified, God also would be glorified in him. In Jesus’ self-sacrificing love for human beings the glory of God was revealed, for the Father loves the world, and this led him to give his one and only Son so that those who believe might have eternal life (3:16). In the giving of his Son, the glory of God’s own self-giving love was revealed.

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