Luke 1:46-56: Song of the Humble

Read: Luke 1:46-56

Mary’s song in response to Elizabeth’s greeting bring is about bringing the utmost glory to God for what he had done in her life concerning Jesus’ conception. God saw an unpretentious woman who feared him and he exalted her because of it. When Mary speaks her verse, she extols the Lord in a number of ways, but the point being that God extends mercy and blessings to those who are humble and seek him, yet scorns those who are proud for whatever reason.

The juxtaposition of Jesus exalting the lowly and scorning the proud is a common theme all throughout the New Testament (Luke 14:1, Luke 18:14, Matthew 5:3, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6 and many others) and the Old Testament (Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 15:33, Proverbs 16:18-19, Proverbs 29:23, Isaiah 57:15 and many others). God undoubtedly prefers such people who are humble because these are the people who truly know there place before God, and when something extraordinary happens they turn the glory back to God rather than themselves.

The theme of God opposing a proud heart was not new in Jesus’ day and is not something new even until now. God does not turn a blind eye to those that seek his face and do it with a pure heart. Genuine humility is not about trying to make sure that everyone else knows sees one’s humility, rather being mindful of God in a quiet way as one live his or her life as Mary was doing when God chose her. Because she was humble, obedient, and believed God, she was blessed. And she turned the glory back to God when she was.

Lord, help me to remain humble and praise you when you exalt the humble.

Hebrews 1:1-3: Jesus is God

Read: Hebrews 1:1-3

Hebrews opens talking about the continuous revelation of God through fathers and prophets and in these “last days” has spoken to the world through his son. In a way, the author of Hebrews was talking about how God was revealed entirety of the Old Testament, which is called the “Tanakh” in the Hebrew language. “Tanakh” is a sort of acronym that stands for The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The fathers and prophets are uncovered all these portions of scripture. The Law is the first five books of the Old Testament. The Prophets includes Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, and Isaiah through Malachi. Lastly, the Writings include the rest of the Old Testament. The Old Testament revelation stopped with Malachi, but the author of Hebrews effectively asserts that the latest revelation on par with the Old Testament that had come into the world came through God’s Son himself, namely Jesus.

The opening verses of Hebrews also offer one of the most unequivocal statements about the deity of Jesus in all of the New Testament. Not only is God being revealed through Jesus, Jesus himself is on par with God. Hebrews asserts many things about Jesus in these verses:

  • He is “heir to all things”. Ultimately, everything will belong to Jesus in the end (Ephesians 1:20-23, Philippians 2:9-11).
  • Through him the “worlds” (The word is plural in the Greek) were made. This indicates not just the earth, but the entirety of the cosmos. For this to be possible, Jesus would have had to been present in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth. John makes a similar statement in his prologue, saying he is the originator of all things that came into being (John 1:3). Paul asserts that all things were made through Jesus too (Colossians 1:16).
  • Jesus is the “radiance of his glory”. The word translated “radiance” is difficult to translate because there is not a word in English correlates with it, but a literal translation would be an “out shining” in the manner the sun radiates sunlight. In a manner of speaking Jesus radiates the glory of God.
  • Jesus is “exact imprint of his nature”. The word here for imprint is a figurative form of a tool engravers used to make precise imprints on objects. Jesus is said to be an exact representation of God’s nature, substance, or essence. In classical Greek thought, earthly objects were seen as cheap copies of some sort of perfect, transcendent form. Jesus was not some sort of cheap copy, rather a perfect representation of that form. Colossians 1:15 asserts that Jesus is the very “image” of God. John says that Jesus he who has seen Jesus also sees the Father (John 14:8-11). Jesus is not merely a projection of God – he is so much more than that.
  • He upholds the world by his power. Not only was Jesus at the creation of the cosmos, it through him that the world is held together. In Colossians 1, Paul also asserts that Jesus holds the cosmos together (Colossians 1:17).
  • He made purification for sin. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that satisfied the requirement of the law so that those who believe don’t have to. For man to be reunited to God, a perfect sacrifice had to be made. The only one qualified as a perfect sacrifice was God himself.
  • He sat down at God’s right hand. The right hand of a God is the ultimate place of authority, and Jesus claims it. The imagery of Jesus taking the right hand is seen a number of times in the New Testament, drawing from Psalm 110:1. (Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13, Hebrews 10:12-13) and elsewhere in Mark 16:9, Mark 14:62 (paraphrasing from Daniel 7:13-14) Acts 5:31, Acts 7:56, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, 1 Peter 3:22, and Revelation 5:7. By taking the right hand seat, Jesus has all the same authority of God.

Jesus has all the glory, power, authority, and qualities that are recognized in God. These powerful descriptors of Jesus can only point to one thing: Jesus is God. These statements alone are enough to establish the supremacy of Christ, but the author of Hebrews does not stop there. He continues in the book to show how the Old Testament vindicates the qualities.

When God spoke through the fathers and prophets, he was pointing to what would come. When Jesus came, he was fulfilled what the fathers and prophets yearned for. As this study of Hebrews continues, this will be unfolded. But right off the bat, Jesus divinity is established to assure the reader that Jesus was not merely another prophet, rather that Jesus himself is God revealed.

Lord, what words can express glory, power, and authority revealed in Jesus? You truly are amazing!

John 17:22-26: God’s Glory and Love Revealed

Read: John 17:22-26

Jesus while praying for the disciple prays that the Father would be glorified in them just as the Father had been glorified in Jesus and so that the disciples would know the oneness that Jesus has with the Father. They would know the love of the Father for Jesus and have the same sort of “perfect unity” that Jesus had with the Father. Because of the oneness the disciples will have with the Father, the world will know that Jesus sent them.

The manifestation of God in one’s life is the Holy Spirit living in one’s life (John 14:16-18). The disciple were not be left as orphans, but were to receive the Holy Spirit who would guide and teach them in the way they should go so that the world would know that Jesus was sent. The Book of Acts records the progression of the Holy Spirit coming into the lives of believers and directing them where to go next, what to say, how to say it, among many things as the gospel went out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But before they started this mission, they went to Jerusalem to wait on the Spirit (Acts 1:4). The Spirit came and they were filled with power and this started the movement that Jesus was promising even here.

Jesus also asks the Father that the disciples get to see the glory where Jesus was and how the Father loved even before the foundation of the world. Seeing the glory of God revealed was not something that anyone could do and live (Exodus 33:20-23). God’s glory could certainly overwhelm a person as it did with Isaiah when he was in the presence of God (Isaiah 6:1-8) because one realizes his or her sin and cannot stand before God because of this. Up to this point, the disciples had seen some manifestations of God’s glory and had accessed the Father principally through God in human form, Jesus. Jesus was asking God to fully reveal himself to them so they could know the glory of not as in a mirror or with veiled faces as Paul describes (1 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), but rather in the fullest sense of what can be known. He asks this so they can know the love of the Father for the Son, the love of God for them, and so Jesus may be with them in this love.

God did not stop revealing his glory and love with the disciples. Everyone who believes in the name of Jesus can know the love of the Father in the same way and have the oneness with the Father in the same manner the disciples did. In doing so, they will too receive the power of God and will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can then help guide and direct the Christian as he goes into the world and speaks about the truth of Jesus.

Lord, I have seen your glory and love! Compel me to show it to others!

John 14:7-15

Read: John 14:7-15

Knowing Jesus is knowing God, because they are one and the same. For the disciples, they had a difficult time understanding this because Jesus was sitting there with them, and they saw the Father as a spiritual being whose existence transcended the world in which they existed. Jesus had just promised that he was going away to the Father to prepare a place for them, and Philip, the one Jesus tested when he fed 5000 (John 6:5-6), suggests that Jesus showing them the Father would be enough. Jesus then answers Philip, saying that he had he known Jesus, then he would also know the Father. Apparently, Philip hadn’t fully understood at this point. Jesus points Philip to the “works” that he was doing as a means to know that Jesus was one with the Father, and that the Father is working through him.

It’s not certain as to what “works” is referring to here. The word translated “work” and “works” is the Greek word “εργον” and is used exclusively in scripture to refer to deeds and works, but works can refer to miracles, acts of kindness, service, among other things. The deeds to which Jesus is appealing to are perhaps the entirety of his ministry from his words and deeds. Jesus follows this saying that they will do greater works then he does because he goes to be with the Father. One could mistakenly take this to mean that the disciples are greater than Jesus, but that’s not what Jesus is saying. Jesus says in John 6:29 that the work of God is to believe in Jesus and around work center his works. The works that they will be doing are greater than those of Jesus because Jesus will not be present because he is going to be with the Father. Jesus knew that they would go out from Jerusalem and declare to gospel to the ends of earth (Acts 1:8). The greatness of this work is greater in scope.

One of the most often misquoted passages in all of scriptures comes from John 14:12-13. Taken in isolation, it would seem that Jesus is offering the disciples a cosmic genie who will grant their every wish. What is certain is that the disciples early on were able to perform miracles. The purpose however was to authenticate their message and for the propagation of the gospel beyond Jerusalem to Samaria and Judea, to Antioch, then to the rest of the world. Knowing that the work of God is to believe in Jesus, this makes sense. Three observations in the text support this. First, Jesus says that he acts on the Father’s initiative because the Father is abiding in him. Christians have the same sort of relationship with the Father with the Holy Spirit abiding in them such that they should act on the Spirit’s initiative. Second, the purpose of asking for something from God is so that God would be glorified. Third, these verses are immediately followed by a statement concerning love and commandments. Those who love Jesus will obey his commandments, such that asking for something in Jesus’ should be in accordance with his commandments. The context indicates that asking for Jesus’ help should be done in the context of his abiding in one’s life, for his glory, and in accordance to his commands.

God’s commission to all who believe is to be involved in his work – that is to believe in Jesus. Even the purpose of John’s writing of his gospel so that some might believe (John 20:29-30). When Christians ask something from God, he or she should ask in accordance to what God would want so they can point others to Jesus. When the world asks about Jesus, Christians should be able to point to Jesus in their lives as Jesus should be making a difference in their lives. In other words, the deeds that people do should be a testimony to that brings glory to God. This way, many can know and believe that Jesus is God and that Jesus can save them from their sin!

Lord, let the works of my life and the things that I ask for bring glory to your name!

John 12:27-35

Read: John 12:27-35

While the people were busy glorifying Jesus and seeking him out — even some Greeks — Jesus was about the business of bringing glory to the Father. Jesus could have asked to be delivered from the cross to which he was about to go, rather he states that the reason that he came was to glorify the Father — he says it is “this hour”. Jesus had declared that his hour had come in John 12:23, and now he asks the Father to glorify his name. The people around, both Greeks and Jews, witness an audible voice from heaven saying that the Father’s name had been glorified and it would be glorified again. The Father had been glorified numerous times in John already by Jesus (John 9:3, John 11, particularly verses John 11:4 and John 11:40-44). The voice from heaven was spoken at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration occasions too (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). Peter recounts the transfiguration in 2 Peter 17:16-18, recalling the glory surrounding Jesus at the time. These particular manifestations of the glory of God and now this one are recalled not to give glory to Jesus, but that Jesus might pass all the fame garnered to him by the works and teachings he had given to the Father, as was the one here too.

Jesus then speaks of himself being lifted up. He had alluded to this in John 3:14 when talking to Nicodemus. The purpose of him being lifted up was so that those who believe in him will live, just as those who looked upon the brazen serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:7-9). The judgment that Jesus speaks of is not on people, as he said in John 3:18 that those who do not believe are condemned already, but for what Jesus calls the “prince of this world”. Ephesians 2:1-9 and Acts 26:16-18 suggest that people were once under the dominion of “prince of the power of the air” or “Satan” and were sons of disobedience. The evil which enslaved mankind was about to be destroyed, and Jesus would have to die to do it. The Jews and Greeks did not understand this, as they thought the messiah would be a lasting messiah. Jesus knew that he would rise again from the dead, as he had already demonstrated his power over life by raising Lazarus from the dead. Given this, Jesus knew that God would be glorified again because Jesus was to be raised.

In all things Jesus did, whether in works or speech, Jesus sought to bring glory to the Father. His purpose was indeed to bring about the salvation of man, but piggybacking on that ultimately was God’s glory. Paul exhorts believers to do everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). A Christian’s deeds should seek to honor God no matter who the person receiving the deeds are. In all things, the glory of God is at stake and Christians should be mindful of this. God does not take lightly when his name is profaned by what one does because he wants all men to be drawn to him. God glorified Jesus and gave man the task of spreading the gospel to all nations. No one should miss the opportunity to believe because Christians seek sin instead of good, or claim glory for themselves rather than giving it all back to God.

Lord, draw all men yourself and let your name be glorified!

John 7:14-31

Read John 7:14-31

Jesus did eventually make his way to the Festival of Booths in Jerusalem, but he did so in secret because he was not trying to make a name for himself, rather do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus’ goal was to be in sync with the Father, and draw people to the Father…not merely himself. And Jesus said that his preaching was not his own, but the one of him who sent him – the Father. If a person speaks in his own authority, then he seeks his own glory, but Jesus was seeking the glory of the Father. The ones who know this are the ones seeking to do God’s will. In a manner of speaking, Jesus says like knows like. He is doing the Father’s will and others seeking to do the Father’s will would recognize it as such. That is more than just obeying the law, but seeking to give God the glory for it when one does rather than seeking glory from another.

Jesus then calls out the ones trying to kill him, because Jesus was a threat to them in that he could expose them for who they really were. They of course deny they are trying to kill him because he had claimed equality with God and healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:16-23). Jesus was recalling these facts, but they rebutted, saying he was crazy. But Jesus offers another rebuttal to strike at the heart of the matter. One part of the law says that a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12) but another part of the law says that one should not work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). Sometimes, the eighth day would fall on the Sabbath. So in order to uphold the law of circumcision, one had to “break” the law of the Sabbath. Jesus was pointing out that they were doing this very thing, such that they were nitpicking what they wanted to from the law. Jesus says the issue is not a matter of the letter of the law, but a matter as to what is right, and if healing on the Sabbath is right, then by all means.

Jesus then goes back to the original issue – personal glory and testimony. A number of believed in Jesus, probably because they understood and were not pretentious. They allege that they know where Jesus is from and that no one will know where the Christ will come from. On the other hand, Jesus “shouted” in the temple to them, saying they know who he is and where he comes from. Jesus was not speaking about which town he was from, but his origin in heaven, and that they knew this to be the case. They were trying to make it a matter of technicality rather than a matter of truth. They did not believe in God, rather were seeking glory for themselves. Jesus in a sense had just exposed them for who they really were, and they knew it. For this reason, they wanted to seize him, but no one did because Jesus’ time had not come (John 13:2).

Often times, people use religion as a means to gain glory for themselves. They use the guise of piety and abuse the authority of teachers to garner worldly things such as money and fame. Jesus could have easily done this, but was making moves as to not gain popularity and draw people away from God, rather point people to him. The ones who seek the will of the Father will recognize those who are authentic and the ones that are not. The job of the Christian is not to go on a witch hunt, but to continuously do the will of the Father. Others, then, will be able to see through the guise and know who is true and who is not true and believe.

Lord, the glory is yours! Help me to not seek it for myself!

John 2:1-11: Give Glory To God

Read: John 2:1-11

Jesus’ first manifestation of his glory was turning water into wine as John notes in John 2:11. This particular set of verses is problematic for some because this manifestation of glory involves Jesus creating wine. The Greek word “οινος” is the most common word for wine in the New Testament and can refer to alcoholic and nonalcoholic forms of the juice from grapes. The “good” wine served at weddings was apparently alcoholic because people were able to get drunk off it (John 2:10) and after having their senses dulled, they are less sensitive to wine of a poorer quality. There’s no way to determine from the text if Jesus was making alcoholic or nonalcoholic wine and the scriptures clearly condemn debauchery (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 13:13) and encourage sobriety (1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:6).  Also, it would difficult to reconcile how Jesus could contribute to debauchery by making more wine. For these reasons, it is probably the case then that they had drunk wine, but were not intoxicated regardless of the alcoholic content of the wine. What is certain is that the wine Jesus made was of a superior quality, perhaps even better than the good wine that was served initially, and this superior quality is noted for a reason — it is a manifestation of Jesus’ glory.

The passage does not seem to note that the miracle itself was somehow problematic, rather only the timing of the miracle. Jesus tells his mother that his hour has not come. Jesus announces that his hour had come in John 12:23 before the beginning of the Passion Narrative that continues after this verse until the end of the book. John notes that the hour had not tome two other times before chapter 12 when some were thinking about arresting him for various reasons (John 7:30, John 8:20). Jesus knew the timing of the Passion Narrative, and the wedding at Cana was not were it was suppose to begin. But nevertheless, he manifested his glory and some believed.

For believers today, the hour of Jesus’ glorification has come, and his glory has been revealed and continues to be revealed in the life of every believer (2 Corinthians 3:18). When God’s glory manifests itself in our lives through word or deed, it should point people to Jesus so that the nonbeliever might believe in Jesus. We should always give God the credit rather than take it for ourselves so we can point people to Jesus!

God, the glory is yours. Help me to help others see this and so they can believe in Jesus!