By Samuel Parrish, Campus Director, Living Hope Charleston
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – John 5:44
The apostle John threads the gleaming strand of glory throughout his gospel as a unifying theme. From verse fourteen of chapter one, to the high priestly prayer in chapter seventeen, God’s glory—his very nature seen most clearly in Jesus—stands as the foundation of the book and the gospel itself.
In the first five chapters of the book, we see Jesus regularly reminding the disciples AND the Pharisees that his glory is not his own, but from the Father. Jesus sees no tension between claiming equality with the Father and his willing submission to the Father’s will. The Pharisees in contrast cannot exist in this tension. Despite being God’s chosen people, and having his word for millennia, the Pharisees are incapable of seeing God’s work and knowing it to be so. Jesus could root this issue in a myriad of sources, but the apostle John notes in verse 44 that Jesus diagnoses this as a glory issue.
Jesus’s words are startling. The Pharisees cannot understand their need for God’s glory because their need for glory has already been satisfied in their “holy huddle.” They see no lack in who they are because being a teacher, being a leader, being someone of influence was their glory. And sadly, that glory was so satisfying that it kept them from seeking the glory that can only come from the Father.
We are all searching, aren’t we? From the top salesman in his region with a floundering family life to the minister who finds purpose in his title more than his calling; sin grabs us on our search for glory. We look to each other and break the heart of the Father as we are satisfied with the glory of addiction, emotional dependency, and sinful self-protection. Like the Pharisees in verse 43, we believe every other voice in our lives except the loving voice of God. We ignore his word, and isolate from his people. Like the Pharisees, false glory will be our judgment if we remain satisfied in it.
If the rightful source of our glory was unclear, Jesus clarifies beyond doubt in chapter seventeen, hours before he was crucified. His prayer for all of us who believe is that a unity of glory might bring about a unity of meaning and a unity of purpose. As the glory Jesus received from the Father led him to give his life for others, the glory we receive from Jesus calls us out of sin and into a life of joyful sacrifice.
May the glory of Christ both in his death and resurrection draw us to the Father during this Lenten season!