The Apostles’ doctrine testifies that Jesus is the Christ. This is the foundational rock that the church is built upon. In their the epistles to the church, the apostle’s affirm that Jesus the Christ is glorified, seated at the right hand of God. Though He was once among men in weakness He is now exalted in power. From this position functions as a great High Priest who helps our infirmity that though we are weak, we may be strong. And we have been joined to this one, even seated with Him in heavenly places. We too, shall be glorified.
JESUS IS THE CHRIST
Moses and the prophets spoke about the coming Messiah though they didn’t know what person and what time the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify (1 Pet 1:11). They didn’t know the Christ would come as Jesus of Nazareth. Likewise the faithful Jews of the time of Christ had to examine the works and manner of Jesus to see if He was the One He claimed to be and the One of whom the prophets spoke. But they did know and expect their Christ to be glorious.
Humble Beginnings. It seems that many of them were not willing to receive the promises of His sufferings but only the glory that would follow. It was as though His manhood clouded His Godhood. But make no mistake about it, His glory would occasionally shine forth.
From His birth onward, Jesus fulfilled all the Scripture concerning Him being the Christ, but many still not all were able to receive it. They appeared to be confused because their understanding of Christ was one of glory but when the word was made flesh He dwelt among them in a humble state.
He had he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isa 53:2-3)
But the nation as a whole and the leaders specifically often mocked Jesus saying “How long dost Thou make us to doubt? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” to which Jesus replied, “I told you, and ye believed not” but “the works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness of Me” (Jn 10:24-25). Upon His crucifixion the thief hurled insults saying, “if thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us” (Lk 23:39). They perceived that He wasn’t glorious and this resulted in them denying that He was Christ. However Peter, and many other disciples, picked up on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah to come. In fact, it was God Himself that revealed to them that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16:16). Peter is a sort of type of all believers in this.
Interestingly enough, after Peter had made that confession Jesus tells His disciples “how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised again the third day.” Upon hearing Jesus say that He, the Christ, would be killed Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. Jesus then scolds Him saying, “Get behind Me, Satan” (Mt 16:23). Peter, like many in Israel was at that time reasoning with man’s interests in mind. How could the Christ possibly suffer and die? (Even though the prophets said he would.) To the two on the road to Emmaus Jesus said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” (Lk 24:25-26).
Jesus was, as Peter confessed, the Christ the Son of the living God but while He was in the earth He was in a humbled state. He emptied Himself and humbled Himself. Jesus then explains that this is the manner of His kingdom, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt 16:24). The way of the Christ is one of a willing suffering now – a weakness now – in view of glory and power, then.
Six days later Jesus shows compassion on His wavering disciples and gives them a glimpse of what is to come, thus confirming their confession of Him being the glorious Christ. So, Peter James and John are taken up the mountain with Him and “was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light” (Mt 17:1-2). He showed them what Peter would later described as majesty, honor and glory. Then He told them not to tell anyone until…“until the Son of Man be risen from the dead” (Mt 17:7).
Peter picks up in Acts 2 declaring this very thing. And from that point on the gospel is preached with more clarity than ever. The gospel is called “The gospel of Christ” in the epistles. What brethren, this side of the cross announce is that we have Christ! He is seated next to the Father in the heavens and our salvation is sure. He did die but that was in order to put away sin once for all but now He is risen and reigning as the glorified Christ.
The Acts of the apostles then, and their preaching are all testifying that by the name of Jesus people are being healed, sins are being forgiven and the gospel is being preached. Paul and accompany became a prey when they declared another king than Caesar that is, Jesus. And finally the book of Acts “concludes” with an open ending where Paul is seen “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching by those things which concern the Lord Jesus CHRIST, with all confidence, no man forbidding.”
All of these experiences were preparatory and revelatory for the disciples. It was these things that would come to their remembrance and were vital to their ministry through the epistles to the churches. Peter would affirm:
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
Their letters to brethren and churches the apostles continue to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ and He is glorified.
CHRIST IS GLORIFIED
What does it mean that Jesus is glorified? It means that He has all that He emptied of Himself, plus more. In becoming a man He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but now He is crowned with glory and honor and exalted far above all the heavenly host (Heb 2:9).
Jesus is at the right hand of the Majesty on high having become so much better than the angels, as He by inheritance obtained a better name than they (Heb 1:3-4). He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Col 1:15-20)
Furthermore, the epistles encourage us about the implications of His glorification. We can look to Him and have hope for a good end. We too shall be glorified!
ONCE IN WEAKNESS, NOW IN POWER
For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. (2 Cor 13:4)
Jesus has been glorified. He is not now, who He was during the days of His flesh. Then, He had humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation and emptied Himself (Php 2:7), but now He is glorified, highly exalted far above the heavens. Then, He had a body that could suffer and die, but now He has a glorious body and shall live for evermore. His time in the earth was one of temporary, voluntarily weakness, but His existence now is eternal, glorious power.
In view of receiving His reward, He told the disciples, “I go away to Him that sent Me” and “I tell you the truth it is better for you that I go away” (Jn 16:5,7). And again He said, “greater works shall you do because I go to the Father.” Jesus’ work from the right hand of God would be greater than the miracles He performed on the earth. What He did while in the earth “manifested His glory” (Jn 2:11) but what He does now manifests greater glory. He casted out devils, raised the dead, healed all manner of diseases and preached the gospel. What He did here made known His “Godness” so that when He would be glorified and go to the Father, His disciples could be of good cheer knowing that this was a “better” thing that would result in “greater” works. Now He is able to keep men from falling and present them faultless before His glory with exceeding joy.
The epistles declare the experience of this “better” time and urge us to lay hold of, and participate in these “greater” works. Their doctrine announces that Christ has indeed risen from the dead to sit down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens as a glorified Savior who, from that exalted place and in that glorified state, is working salvation in the midst of the earth.
Christ had a voluntary weakness while in the earth but now lives forevermore by the power of God. So we too are meek and voluntarily “weak” now, but we too live by the power of God and shall be glorified together with Him on that last day. All believers have been called unto God’s eternal glory by Christ Jesus “after ye have suffered a while” (1 Pet 5:10). We take up our cross and suffer now until we are glorified then. In the meantime, the One who is glorified now will be effective in bringing His brethren to glory.
A GLORIFIED HIGH PRIEST WHO HELPS OUR INFIRMITY
Jesus glorified not Himself but God glorified Him as high priest (Heb 5:5).
“We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle (Heb 8:1-2). If he were yet on earth and not yet glorified “he should not be a priest” (Heb 8:4). But He is. Christ entered within the veil “for us” as a forerunner and high priest forever (Heb 6:19-20).
Jesus is our great high priest who has passed into the heavens, who can sympathize with our weaknesses and provide for us mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Heb 4:14-16). He had to become flesh to do this AND He had to return to heaven to do this. Jesus was “made like His brethren” in order to now be a merciful and faithful high priest that is able to succor them that are tempted (Heb 2:17-18). We needed a glorified Christ who had once humbled Himself to be touch with the feeling of our infirmity.
Jesus is the “Captain of Salvation” that had to be perfected through sufferings (Heb 2:10). And now, having been perfected, He has became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:9).
Jesus is such a priest. He is made high priest forever “after the power of an endless life” (Heb 7:16). in order to bring about a new law and the perfection of the saints (Heb 7:11, 19). The glorified Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him seeing that He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb 7:25).
“Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb 8:11-12). For Christ is entered into “heaven itself, not to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb 8:24).
JOINED TO THE GLORIFIED CHRIST
We have been joined to the Lord. We have been placed “in Christ Jesus” and Christ Jesus has been exalted and glorified. In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily and ye are complete in Him, which is head of all principality and power” (Col 2:9-10). This has great implications for our living.
We are “risen with Christ” and exhorted to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God…set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth…for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3). Our union with Christ is through faith and in the Spirit (we are one spirit with Him) and so where He is, there we are…by faith. “In Jesus.” This is WHERE we live. This is WHERE faith keeps us. Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world because our faith is what puts us in Christ and Christ in us (Eph 3:17). As a result we live above this world and quite literally “OVERcome” it.
Wherefore, if we are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, “as though living in the world” (Col 2:20) are ye subject to ordinance? Nothing in this world can approve us to God. Only the glorified Christ can bring us the necessary provisions for salvation. And therefore, our attention and our affection must be heavenward.
Our existence here is not our primary existence – faith knows that, the flesh never will know that. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God but “When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Col 3:4). Therefore mortify your members on the earth! (v 5). Therefore, forsake the lesser things and live for your eternal inheritance. “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim 2:11-12).
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Tim 2:3)…“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Tim 2:10)…We are able to do this as Christ empowers us to do this. We are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness…Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col 1:11, 29).
Being Glorified. Our toil is not in vain in the Lord. As we look above the earth and look unto Jesus and set our affections above faith can, like Stephen, see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. This is not positive thinking. This is not mere Christian philosophy or tradition. This is effectual! This understanding; this perception has an effect in the very nature of the beholder. We are changed by the Spirit as we focus on Christ.
The apostle Paul wrote that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Liberty from a law of carnal commandment which is weak through the flesh and a liberty from the bondage of sin and death. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, believers are changed by the perception that faith enables them to see the glorified Christ. As we behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed into that same image from glory to glory even by the Holy Spirit.
This knowledge of the true glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ. Seeing Jesus in this way and knowing the glory of God is accomplished by men believing the gospel and receiving the light, illumination, emanating from the glorious gospel of Christ. This is a treasure and a work that happens in the heart of men, within their earthen vessel, and manifests the reality that the efficacy or power of such change is not from men but from God. (2 Cor 3).
HOPE OF GLORY
-There is More to Come-
God has made known to us the richness of this message, namely, if Christ is in you, you have the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). So, our toil and struggle in the earth is a good one. We suffer like Christ suffered in striving against sin and in enduring hardness. But we can do so joyfully knowing that at the end of the road of suffering is glory.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified” (1 Pet 4:12-14).
Now, we must experience the toil and affliction associated with being a stranger and foreigner on the earth. We must have an earthly experience that is like unto Christ’s earthly experience. One in which, as a result of His being from above, He is not received by others, even kinsman according to the flesh. But we are not in despair because we are living by hope. For as He once suffered, He is now glorified. And in the meantime, we, like Him, are empowered from our heavenly home with heavenly resources until we partake of the glory that is to come.
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Th 2:13-14)
So, do not be like those “who set their mind on earthly things.” “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Php 3:17-21)