This is the centre of the gospel – this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about – that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near.
— Dr. John Piper
The time came in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Jewish pilgrims from all over the known world have flocked to the streets in order to bring honor to the moment in their history when God spared their forefathers from the wrath of God. It was a time to celebrate God’s redemption and freedom from the bondage of Egypt. It was a time to reflect on the great expectation God has for the people, and to remember that He is the holy God who does whatever He pleases. As the Scripture says in Psalm 37:17 (ESV), “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.”
Little did the Jews know that God’s own Son, the Savior and Messiah, had been among them at the time of the feast, and was about to fulfill the words of the prophets of old. His was the blood that would be marked on the door of our hearts, in order for God’s wrath to pass over the elect, and so that their names in the Book of Life would be sealed by the blood of our Lord. The Jewish Sanhedrin was ignorant of this, the disciples rejected this, but Jesus Christ knew this. The hour had come, and one could only imagine the tormenting anguish that was within His heart: His friends would betray Him, He would be slaughtered, and, worst of all, the wrath of God would be poured on Him.
So, at the moment of the feast, Jesus tells the disciples that one of them was to betray Him. The disciples ask Jesus who would betray Him, and the following events are recorded in John 13:26-27 (ESV) saying, “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him [Judas]. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.'” Not one of the disciples understood what was taking place. Scripture was being fulfilled right before their eyes, and they thought Jesus was telling Judas to go about with financial business. The Holy Spirit had not yet opened their eyes to the truth that was before them.
Then in John 13:31 (ESV), John continues the story by the inspiration of the Holy Spirt, “When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.'” One can’t help, but ask this question: what could’ve possibly happened that was so glorious? Many Christians know the upcoming events of Jesus’ suffering, but even they are not quick to state that there is glory in it. Jesus knows that He is going to suffer betrayal, flogging, beating, crucifixion, the wrath of God, and death. How can Christ, above all persons, say that this is a precise moment in which the Son of Man is able to receive glory, and that the Father is glorified?
The answer is found in John 17:1-2 (ESV) which says, “…He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.'” Christ Himself is saying that God is glorified from the work of salvation that the Father has predestined to come to pass. Notice that Jesus says that He can have glory, since He has been given authority over all flesh and that He gives eternal to all whom the Father has given Him. This is where God’s love is displayed and where His grace become clearer.
I am saddened by the fact that Reformed Christians tend to gloss over this aspect of theology. Yes, God is holy and just, and I wish this culture would understand that. However, we can’t escape the astonishing love that God had for His children. What love story is greater than the story of Christ and His Church? Christ’s glory rests on the fact that He has come to be the Sacrifice for the many. He became one of us and humbled Himself. In so doing, He was exalted by the Father. I am not saying that Christ was not glorified prior to the crucifixion, but that Christ’s glory increased because He fulfilled the will of the Father. Our lives have been redeemed by the suffering of our Lord, and the work He has fulfilled. For this, we glorify our God, and His glory becomes more abundant.
Sovereign Grace Worship wrote a song called I Will Glory in My Redeemer. In it they sing these words, “I will glory in my Redeemer, who crushed the power of sin and death. My only Savior before the holy Judge, the Lamb who is my righteousness!” This is what makes the gospel be…the gospel. Gospel is good news, and there is no greater news that Christ was glorified in saving us. Even in the midst of knowing that He would suffer as no man would ever suffer, His heart was set on His precious bride. We are treasured in His sight, so much so that when considering the work He was about to complete for the Church, He was able to say, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”
Soli Deo Gloria.