Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Jesus Christ the Glory (James 2:1-4)

"My brothers, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory, with respect to persons" (James 2:1).

James 2:1 is written in a strange way. Most translations smooth out what he writes so that they read “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ” or “Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” But what James actually wrote was “our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Glory.” Jesus is called “the Glory” here.

When the Bible speaks of glory, it does not primarily mean fame and honor. Rather, the reference is to the cloud of light, color, and sound that appeared from time to time in the Old Testament, the Shechinah Glory. When men saw into this cloud, as in Ezekiel 1, they saw that it consisted of myriads of shining angels surrounding the throne of God. This company manifests the glory of the shining Being at the center of the cloud. That figure, seated on a throne, is the source of the glory, the source of the light reflected and refracted through the angels. He is the Glory in person. And He became the Glory Incarnate.

James, writing with a strongly Jewish perspective to Jewish converts, wants his readers to know that Jesus and the Glory of the Old Testament are one in the same. That Glory Cloud led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. So also Jesus leads us to the Promised Land. Believers are incorporated into that Glory Cloud along with the angels, becoming part of the host of the Lord gathered around Him. As James points out, if we are all equally members of His glory, and all our glory is only a reflection of Him, the source, we should shrink from any show of favoritism in the church.

Jesus concealed His glory during His earthly life. Even so, when He was born into the world, His glory was reflected through the angels so that “the glory of the Lord shone around [the shepherds], and they were terrified” (Luke 2:9). Six days after the discussion at Caesarea Philippi, which we have been considering, Jesus further revealed His glory at the Transfiguration. John, surely referring to that experience, comments, “We beheld His glory, glory as of the Only Begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

John associates glory with grace and truth. Glory is awesome and initially frightening, as when the Glory arrived at Mt. Sinai. Truth can be awesome when it exposes our inadequacies and sins; grace because it shows that God covers our sins. Apply the concept of Christ’s glory, truth and grace to your Christian life.