In Matthew 17 we read of Jesus taking his 3 buddies, Peter, James and John, up a mountain. At the top, they are surprised to see Jesus' actual appearance change before their very eyes! "And his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light" (v2, ESV). Wow!! Have you ever looked up at the sun? It's so bright you have to look away. Imagine Peter, James and John having to hide their eyes from their Teacher because his face was shining like the sun! Amazing.
As they were coming down the mountain Jesus told them not to speak of this until after he is raised from the dead. So 3 of the disciples got a surprising glimpse of the glory of Jesus Christ. But for the other 9 disciples, and everyone else on the streets, they saw Jesus with the face of a normal man (meaning, they did not see bright rays of light coming from his skin!). Have you ever considered this? Jesus hid his glory.
Jesus has always been glorious. Before he was born on earth - before the earth was created! - Jesus existed with the Father and had glory (John 17:5). But there came a time in actual history and time when the eternally glorious Son of God "took on flesh" (Jn 1:17). Jesus was born as a baby. But he looked like a normal baby. Glory was not shining out of his little eyes. He cried. He needed his mother. And when he was an older boy, he looked like a normal boy. Instead of shining "white as light" his clothes got dirty. And when he became a man, he looked like a normal man. "He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2b). Jesus hid his glory.
If Jesus had not hidden his glory, they would not have crucified him (1 Corinthians 2:8). Certainly the Roman soldiers would have been too blind to drive nails in his feet and hands, if Jesus' skin was shining like the sun! And in this thought we see why Jesus hid his glory. Philippians tells us that, though Jesus had the very form of God, he "humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus hid his glory as an act of humility in order to go to the cross and die for our sins.
As he suffered on the cross, Jesus did not look glorious. His disciples had run away. He was covered in blood. He was hanging on a tree, a sign of being cursed by God (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13). Rather than worshiping his glory, people were insulting him. The glory was hidden! They did not realize what beautiful thing was happening before their eyes; they did not know who they beheld! His glory was hidden. So they insulted him. Even the thieves, crucified to Jesus' right and left, insulted him. Until one of them caught a glimpse of the glory. Then he rebuked the other thief for insulting Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him when he entered his kingdom (Luke 23:42). Kingdom? Just what did this thief see? One thief looked at Jesus and saw someone to mock and ridicule. The other thief, looking at the same man, saw a King! One saw the glory and the other did not.
Jesus explained how some see his glory while others are left 'blind.' In Matthew 16 Jesus asked his disciples who people said that he was. They answered that some said he was John the Baptist, or Elijah, one of the prophets, etc. Jesus then asked them who they said he was. Ahhhh. A good question! It must be personal. Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). Peter saw the glory (this was before he went on the mountain and actually, physically, saw Jesus' glory). To what did Jesus credit Peter's answer? He did NOT say, "Peter, you have better eyes than most people; eyes that see glory..." He did NOT say, "Peter, you are more discerning than the other guys. Good job." No, Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (v17). Jesus announced that Peter was "blessed" to see the glory. He did not credit Peter, but God, who had revealed to Peter the true nature of Jesus' identity; his glory. Jesus' glory is hidden. But it can be revealed!
During Jesus' ministry, and as he died on the cross, his glory was hidden to many. But he rose from the dead in glory! And he reigns in glory! John the Apostle saw a glimpse of Jesus' glory and fell down as though dead (Revealtion 1:17). And Jesus is coming back in glory! He is coming on a white horse, fire in his eyes and crowns on his head! He is coming to rule and to reign, treading the winepress of the wrath of God! His robe is dipped in blood and his name is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords! (Revelation 19:11-17) The glory will be revealed! Every knee will bow to him. Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. He is, and will forever be, glorious!!!
What about you? Who do you say that he is? Have YOU seen a glimpse of the glory? Or does he look like just another man? Someone whose name can be used as a curse word? Have you seen the glory? You will. But will it be too late?
May the Father be pleased to reveal to many the glory of his Son, Jesus, through the preached gospel.