Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stepping Out into the Sunlight

In John 17:24 Jesus prays these words to the Father: "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." In his commentary on John's gospel, Calvin has this to say about these words:
Christ speaks of the perfect happiness of believers, as if he had said, that his desire will not be satisfied till they have been recieved into heaven. In the same manner I explain the beholding of the glory. At that time they saw the glory of Christ, just as a man shut up in the dark obtains, through small chinks, a feeble and glimmering light. Christ now wishes that they shall make such progress as to enjoy the full brightness of heaven. In short, he asks that the Father will conduct them, by uninterrupted progress, to the full vision of his glory.
In this world we only see a glimpse of the glory of Christ. As we look at Jesus, with the eyes of faith, as He is revealed to us in Scripture, the glimpse we see of Him is glorious and magnificent. However, it is nothing to be compared to the glory that we shall see when we see Him face to face in the new creation. A man shut up in a dark room takes joy in the beams of sunlight that sine through the cracks in the door. However, this is nothing compared to stepping out into the sunlight on a bright summers day. So it is with us as we see in part now the glory of God as revealed in to us in Christ in the gospel. As believers we see His glory in part now, and that part is magnificent. However, it is nowhere near to the magnificence of stepping out into the sunlight of the fullness of His glory, which we shall experience in the new creation.

As Calvin says, the perfect happiness of believers is found in beholding the glory of Christ. This is what Jesus is saying in John 17:24. Therefore, as Christians, should this not leave us with an all-consuming longing to see more of Christ in this life, as He is revealed to us in Scripture, and ultimately to see the fullness of His glory in the new creation. Should this not leave us with a longing for Him either to call us to depart to be with Him - which is better by far (Philippians 1:23), or to return to ussher in the new creation, where we shall see Him face to face (Revelation 21:22-23; 22:4).