It’s a word that we often hear, but what does “glory” really signify?
A popular worship song includes the phrase “show us your glory,” but can that request have an eternal ring to it?
Dictionaries provide several facets of meaning for the word “glory.” I looked it up in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and discovered these shades of meaning:
- “great beauty and splendor: MAGNIFICENCE”
- “something marked by beauty or resplendence”
- “the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven” [i]
In John 17:24, Jesus spoke these words in His prayer on our behalf:
“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.”
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus longs for the day when He can show us His eternal glory? Why else would He pray in such a way just hours before His crucifixion?
Let’s take a little deeper look at the implications of Jesus’ request on our behalf.
It Can Only Happen When We Are with Jesus in Heaven
We often use the word “glory” to refer to aspects of our walk with the Lord. We glorify His name when we praise Him through words and songs. When we give Jesus all the credit for what He accomplishes in or through us, we correctly refer to this as giving Him the glory.
We see a foretaste of God’s heavenly glory in beautiful sunsets, the grandeur of snowcapped mountain tops, and through the beauty and wonder of nature in all its various forms. Last week, my wife Ruth and I hiked in a Wisconsin state park where the leaves had just begun to change colors; it was breathtakingly beautiful. God’s creation reflects His beauty, magnificence, and splendor, and for those paying attention, nature glorifies its Creator.
On the other hand, we will not see the glory of which Jesus spoke in John 17:24 until we are with Him in heaven. All the magnificent scenes in nature are but a sampling of the beauty that Christ desires to show us once we are physically present with Him after the Rapture. The full magnificence, splendor, and power of our Savior are not things we are currently capable of witnessing apart from our glorified bodies, which we receive when Jesus appears to take us home (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
I’m always amazed by John’s reaction to seeing Jesus, as recorded in Revelation 1:17. Even though the apostle had spent three and a half years with the Savior, caught a glimpse of His eternal glory when He appeared with Moses and Elijah, and spent weeks with Him after His resurrection, he still “fell at his feet as though dead” when He revealed perhaps just a part of His glory to him.
The book of Revelation is all about Jesus’ glory. That’s why the last chapter contains a dire warning for all those who mess with its words through allegory or place its prophecies in the past tense (Revelation 22:18-19). This was the topic of a recent post, Don’t Mess With the Book of Revelation.
Jesus’ Request Takes Us Back to His Promise in John 14:2-3
The words in John 17:24 take us back to Jesus’ promise in 14:2-3.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus says that when He comes for us, we will be “where” He currently resides. In John 17:24, the Lord prays that believers “may be with me where I am ….” Jesus thus prays for the day when He fulfills the promise He gave to His disciples, and us, in John 14:2-3, that of taking us to where He currently resides in His “Father’s house.”
Once there, we will see Jesus’ great brilliance, magnificence, and splendor, which we cannot fully witness until that day.
This is the event that we call the “Rapture of the church.” We must receive our immortal bodies and go up to heaven in order to see the full display of Jesus’ divine glory. Someday, perhaps soon, Jesus will catch us up to meet Him in the air, and we will be with Him forevermore.
In light of these verses from the Gospel of John, carefully consider Paul’s words in Colossians 3:4:
“When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Glory is most certainly not a place on earth. When Jesus “appears,” we “appear with him” in heaven above, aka “glory.” We go to where our Savior currently resides. Again, this is the Rapture. Colossians 3:4 also takes us back to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:24.
When Jesus returns to earth after the Tribulation, He stays on the earth. When He comes for us, we go up to witness the splendor of His beauty and magnificence.
We Will Share in Christ’s Glory
The Bible not only tells us that we will witness Christ’s glory, but there’s a sense in which we will also share in it. In Romans 8:16-17, we see these amazing words:
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
Again, in Romans 8:30, Paul writes:
“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Someday, we will “be glorified with” Jesus, which is a direct and inescapable result of our justification that happens at the moment of our salvation.
What might that mean for us?
First, the Bible teaches that we will receive immortal and imperishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). This happens at the Rapture of the church when both the dead in Christ and living saints receive immortal and imperishable bodies. That’s when Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).
This aspect of our hope is over-the-top wonderful.
Second, the New Testament promises an inheritance for all that belong to Christ (1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:11-14).
According to Jesus, there’s a sense in which we can add to this treasure that awaits us (Matthew 6:19-21). However, as for the basic heritage that awaits all of us, Peter says that it “is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
As believers, it’s impossible to lose the glorious inheritance that awaits us.
The Bible does not provide many details about this, but from what it says, we can assume that it’s tremendously valuable, physical in nature, everlasting, and a cause for rejoicing even in the midst of severe trials (1 Peter 1:5).
I believe our secure “inheritance” includes the place that Jesus is preparing for us in the New Jerusalem and all the physical treasures that might go along with it. If it seems sacrilegious for me to put it that way, remember that Jesus Himself said it was possible to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).
Third, we know that we will reign with Christ during the millennium and then forevermore. Perhaps this will also be a part of our glorious inheritance. This is something we will indeed treasure: no more mundane jobs but an amazing role in serving Jesus in precisely the way He created us.
The Glory Ahead for Us Makes the Wait More Bearable
It’s more than a little difficult waiting for the Lord’s return. High watch times come and go, and we remain on the earth as wickedness and lawlessness grow far beyond what we ever thought possible.
I believe that a focus on the glory ahead for us can make the wait more manageable.
However, I also know that for some, the Rapture seems like a sudden, unwanted, and scary change of address.
There are many factors that can alleviate these fears and thoughts.
- Always keep in mind that the Rapture is a Bridegroom coming for His beloved bride.
- The Rapture begins a glorious adventure that will far supersede our best and greatest experiences in this life.
- The alternative is to go through the worst period in human history and most likely experience a violent death.
- At the Rapture, we exchange our aging and sore bodies for glorious bodies like that of our Savior. The Lord exchanges a life that we cannot keep for an eternal inheritance that we can never lose.
We know that the apostle Paul suffered greatly as he preached the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. He describes his hardships in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (and we know many more followed after he wrote this list).
In spite of all he endured, he wrote this in Romans 8:18:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (KJV).
This is the glory that Jesus longs to show us as His bride, and someday very soon, He will do just that.
The next time I sing the words “show us Your glory,” it will be a prayer for Jesus to appear and take me to heaven where I will see the full extent of His magnificent beauty and splendor.
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon. In this book, I provide a solid biblical foundation for our hope in Jesus’ glorious appearing before the start of the events described in Revelation 6-18.
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