The Same but Different

This is the morning in my reading plan where I, perhaps, feel most as if I’m entering an inner-sanctum. John 17 truly being the place where you stand on holy ground as the Son lifts up His eyes to heaven and speaks to the Father. That secret place we’re allowed in to as we eavesdrop on our great High Priest at our great God’s right hand interceding for the saints (Heb. 7:25).

Just the first five verses this morning. But more than enough for a meal. Almost too much to chew on.

When Jesus had spoken these words, 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. And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.”

(John 17:1-4 ESV)

Where to start?

The glory of the Son integrally intertwined with the glory of the Father. To glorify One would be to glorify the Other. The glory they both share in because of the finished work of redemption ordained of the Father and accomplished by the Son.

Or, the mind-blowing reality that those who are Christ’s have been selected by divine determination, hand-picked of the Father, and given to the Son — yet true, too, that eternal life is promised for “whoever believes in Him” (Jn. 3:16).

What about Jesus’s definition of eternal life? To be forever blessed is for mortal man to know their immortal Creator. That knowing the only true God, known fully and perfectly through Jesus the Messiah, is what life, and life to the full, is really about–whether in heaven or on earth.

But one thing in particular is captivating my head and my heart. Jesus’s glorification after His time on earth. And how it would be the same but different.

“And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.

(John 17:5 ESV)

Our focus at this time of year is on a baby born in a manager. But our wonder is fueled by Immanuel, God with Us. The Incarnate Deity. The fullness of God, yet in bodily form.

Though the Son has ever been One with the Father and the Spirit, present before the world began, with manifest glory the likes of which angels could barely look upon, yet, in order to do the Father’s will, He did not consider that manifest glory something to be held on to. “He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.” Taking the form of servant. Born in the likeness of men. Becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross (Php. 2:6-8). The glory veiled. But not forever.

“And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.”

Jesus, anticipating the completion of the work of redemption, looked forward to His return to the Father. To again be in God’s own presence. To again bear the glory He had borne since eternity past. He looked forward to that state when it would be the same as it was before.

But it wouldn’t be exactly the same. It would be different, wouldn’t it?

He would be embodied. The human form he took upon Himself the same human form that ascended into heaven. The human form that will be seen when He returns again “in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Act 1:9-11).

Embodied as “the firstfruits” of all those who will know bodily resurrection from the dead (1Cor. 15:20-23). The Son being the first to model the heavenly body–raised imperishable, raised in glory, raised in power, raised a supernatural body. So that “just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of heaven” (1Cor. 15:42-44, 49).

A body emitting majestic glory, the teaser of which was witnessed by Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-2, 1Pet. 1:16-18).

Jesus will indeed be glorified with the same glory that was His, but different.

Different too in that, while He will bear again the fullness of the glory as of the Son, His since before the world existed, because of His coming to earth that glory will also be known through new and forever facets. The glory of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The glory of the Root of David. The glory of the Conqueror of sin and death. And the glory manifest as a Lamb, standing amidst the throne of God, as though it had been slain (Rev. 5:5-6). The glory of Christ, in all it’s multi-faceted majestic display, the same but different.

O’ what a Savior! O’ what boundless love! O’ what face-planting, praise-shouting glory will we behold when we behold the Lamb?!?

Might we see just a glimpse of it even now, even as we prepare to celebrate God come in flesh.

By His grace. For His glory.

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