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The Weight of Glory

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It is easy to overlook beautiful truths that can change our lives as we read the Bible. We may miss these truths because we are distracted or are so familiar with the text or simply because we don’t understand it. Or it could be that there is another incredible truth that we focus on that causes us to miss the other truth in the same passage. This is what happened to me as I read John 12:25-26.

25Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him (John 12:25-26).

In the many times I have read this passage, I have instinctively homed in on what Jesus means when He says, “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (v 25). I have been convicted by the command that I must follow Him if I were to be His servant and disciple (v 26). These concepts are crucial for the life of the genuine disciple. And so we would do well to dwell on them and decipher how to apply them in our walk with Christ.

Yet in this passage I had overlooked a stunning reality: “If anyone serves [Jesus], the Father will honor him” (v 26). Wait…what? The Father will honor me? A saint with a tilted halo? A disciple who struggles being self-centered, self-righteous, and self-exalting? A follower who is prone to wonder from the God I love and whose love is often cold? Yes, the Father will honor the genuine follower of Christ. The person who hates his life in this world—who dies to his selfish desires and lives for Christ—will serve and follow Christ. And after a life of faithfully following Jesus, the true disciple will be honored by the Father.

C.S. Lewis, in his lecture The Weight of Glory, has helped me to grasp the magnificence of this reality. In this post, we will be interacting with some pertinent quotes from Lewis’s lecture. The goal is that your heart will be joyfully awakened to the reality that the Father will honor you, a true disciple of Christ. 

Longing for Approval

To honor someone is to approve or regard them as worthy of admiration and respect. This honor or approval is something that every human heart craves. We try to find approval in relationships, in being the best parent, in our careers, in our status, in our circle of friends, and in influence over others. And we experience a joyful satisfaction when we receive this approval—albeit temporary. 

Yet we fail to find the eternal satisfaction that we long for in the approval from created things. As creatures we were created to find our approval from our Creator. On that day that we stand before our Maker, we will yearn to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). And if we hear those words from our heavenly Father, we will “enter into the joy of [our] Master” (25:21). 

Lewis gets at this when he says we receive a pure satisfaction when we receive honor and approval from our God whom we love. He says this joyful satisfaction occurs when “the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond all belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be” (37-38).

The genuine believer will not rejoice because of how great they are. Lewis calls this “vanity” and a “miserable illusion that it is [their] doing.” Rather, the believer will rejoice in being what they were created to be: one who is approved by God. 

Lewis continues, “In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised” (38).

Lewis is reminding us that everyone will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). We will come face to face with the Judge, whose face will either be approving or condemning. We all long to have His face shine upon us with honor instead of shame—to be welcomed home into His heavenly presence rather than to be turned away to horrors of the gates of hell. 

Weight of Glory

In receiving this honor and satisfaction from the Father before the judgment seat, we experience everlasting joy and satisfaction, a weight of glory that we cannot even begin to fathom. Lewis says,

“It is written that we shall stand before Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is” (38-39)

To even survive appearing before the Judge without being consumed is amazing enough. But to please God—to be honored and approved by Him, for God to truly delight and love us—is a weight of glory that is incomprehensible. This, brothers and sisters, is utterly amazing. That the infinitely holy and just God of the universe would honor us. That He would gaze upon us with delight.

How is this possible? How can it be true that God will “rejoice over you with gladness…quiet you by His love…[and] exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)? How can it be that we receive this weight of glory? 

Your Honor Purchased With His Blood

This is only possible by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus’s death satisfied the wrath of God towards our sin, and so the believer’s sins are forever forgiven. True disciples of Christ no longer stand before God condemned, but rather, honored. Jesus purchased our approval with His blood. 

This truth is communicated in the song Amazing Love:

I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken,
I’m accepted, you were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again.
Amazing love. How can it be?
That you, my King, would die for me?

Oh how amazing is God’s love for His people! He freed us from our enslavement to sin, forgave us of our sinful ways, and now delights and honors us! All this is not our own doing, but was accomplished by the work of Christ on the cross (see Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 2:13-14).

Glorify God Who Glorified You

Because of Jesus’s sacrifice those that faithfully follow Jesus will be honored by the Father with this weight of glory. And this approval by God naturally presses upon us a propensity to praise Him. We gladly glorify the God who graciously glorified, glorifies, and will glorify us.

One day we will behold the face of the Creator God, our heavenly Father, and He will look upon us, His adopted children, with delight and approval. This will cause us to burst forth into praise. We get a glimpse of this glory in John’s vision in Revelation: “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever’” (Revelation 5:13)!

But we do not need to wait to be in heaven to join in their angelic chorus. We join the song of praise now by picking up our cross daily and following Jesus (Luke 9:23-26). We glorify God by being unashamed to boldly proclaim the gospel (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:19). We exalt God by enduring suffering for His name’s sake (Philippians 1:27-30). We magnify His great name through how we love one another (John 13:34-35). We glorify God by treasuring Him above all things (Matthew 13:44).

Don’t miss the magnificent reality that you will be honored by the Father for faithfully following Christ. Let the joy found in this spill over into worship for the One who secured your honor before the Lord.