Thou knowest Lord, that that is no mere platitude with us, we do need Thee, and we need Thee this very moment. We can do nothing without Thee, neither speak, nor understand. Thou art the answer to our need. And we do not put the emphasis upon blessing us firstly, get something for Thyself. And if by blessing us, Thou canst be blessed, that is the governing thing. Lord help us... for His Name's sake, amen.
One could spend minutes talking about ourselves, about our meeting again after this long time; the joy of renewed fellowship. One looks upon faces long-remembered, and sees others, but we want the Lord to have all the moments. So we shall not be engaged with what after all would be very sincere and of real joy in Him, but let us get straight to His Word shall we? For I believe He has something to say to us.
Will you please take the gospel by John, chapter 11. Chapter 11 in the gospel by John, and with a swift glance down the page you will take in what is here on record. I just want you to pinpoint two places. Verse 4: "Jesus said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby".
And verse 40: "Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
"For the glory of God... thou shouldest see the glory of God."
You probably know chapters 11 to 17 of this gospel are chapters of summation and consummation. That is, a gathering up of everything into finality, and what comes out in great clearness in this consummate part of the gospel is the priority which governed the whole life, teaching, and work of the Lord Jesus. It seems that that is what John had in mind in writing, for he places this priority right at the beginning of this gospel, worked steadily along that line, and then brings it all out in this full and conclusive way at the end. Although for thirty years and more the Lord Jesus had been governed by this priority, there came a point, a crisis point in His life at which He made a complete adjustment of everything upon this one thing that we are calling the priority, where He determined that everything should be focused upon this, and that there should be no deviation at any point from this priority.
And what was it? The glory of His Father - the glory of God. "Thou shouldest see the glory of God..." that was His all-inclusive priority.
The Glory of His Father
As I have said, John struck that keynote right at the beginning when, writing after it was all over and seeing the whole content and significance of that life, work, teaching, and conduct, he started off by saying: "And we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten of the Father" (1:14). That is bringing the Father right into view in the matter of glory. And then John went on writing the Gospel, like a great harmony or symphony tuned to that keynote, and all the way through keeping true to that - the glory of the Father.
And I believe, dear friends, that that is the keynote that the Lord wants that I should strike here, today. It is with me a very considerable burden in these days. Let us come to the Lord Jesus for a few minutes in this matter.
There was, as I have said, that hour of His great committal, His great committal took place at His baptism. He there and then committed Himself utterly, utterly to the glory of His Father. He gathered every detail of His life from that moment and centred it in this thing, as though He were saying: 'From this moment, not one deflection from that motive, that object: My Father's glory to govern everything.' And so it was, and so it was.
Firstly in His own personal, inner life, His secret walk with His Father. It's a most impressive thing as you read through this gospel, you find all the way along that everything is coming out of His personal, secret life with His Father. "The Son", He said, "can do nothing out from Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing". "He seeth the Father doing..." mysterious language, but those who know anything about Life in the Spirit know what it means. "Seeth the Father doing; that doeth He", and not in His own way, but "in like manner"; in like manner as the Father. How meticulous, how exact! His committal as to His own relationship with God His Father meant nothing of Himself, only what He knew in His own heart and His own secret history with God, that the Father wanted Him to do and to say. There was the background: the inner sanctuary life with the Father maintained unbroken.
As to His conduct, He behaved Himself on this ground that: 'How I behave, how I conduct Myself is going to be altogether a matter of how it touches My Father's glory. The impression I make upon others, what they see in Me and about Me, must never for one moment veil the glory of My Father, hide that glory, detrimentally affect that glory. My behaviour must always be for the glory of My Father.' This was as to Himself and His conduct, His walk. You know, John made a note of that, this walking business - not just an outward progress. John said: "as He walked" as He walked... there was something about His very movements that were governed, and His walk, His movements, His behaviour - always for the glory of His Father.
His work and His words, as we have quoted Him: "The works that I do, I do not from Myself, it's the Father Who doeth the work! The words that I speak, they are not of Myself, but My Father."
His times for doing things. Ofttimes we read that He put back suggestions from others that He should do things now, at this time. To come on that again, as we shall come on many of these things again as we go on today, but when something seemed to be demanded of Him, and people expected Him to do it at that time, He put it back: "Mine hour is not yet come" but very quickly afterwards He did it; because He was waiting. In His spirit He was saying: 'Father, is this Your time? Is this Your time?' Because you know, dear friends, you can do a right thing at the wrong time and it doesn't just work out. There are a lot of things, and it is just not the time for them. You remember the great incidents with the apostle Paul: "He assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered him not", to preach the word in Asia, but he was "forbidden of the Holy Ghost" and diverted, that was not the time, but Asia and Bithynia got it subsequently, in God's time. And when God's time is registered, things are very much more fruitful, you don't waste time. When we do things so often in our own time, well, we only put off things till God's time, nothing happens until God wants them done. That's by the way, but the Lord Jesus was like that: "Mine hour is not yet". "Mine hour is not yet" and yet the hour seemed to come so quickly afterwards. But here He is, moving, speaking, working, timing, by His fellowship with the Father. He brought everything else on to that ground.
His family; His family He brought on to the ground of the glory of the Father. They came and said: "Thy brothers and Thy mother stand without, wanting to see Thee". That's a natural appeal. It might be a sentimental appeal, it might seem to be quite a right kind of appeal, but wait a minute. He answers: "Who is My mother? And who are My brethren? Those that do the will of My Father! These are My mother, My brethren, My sisters..." putting it on another ground than the natural ground. 'How far does my family, do my family relationships, as far as I am concerned, reflect the glory of God?' God has got to be glorified in that realm.
In His attitude toward men? Governed in the same way. As to the religious world? Well, He will commend what is sincere and go as far as He can with it in sympathy. A young ruler comes and tells Him that he has kept all the commandments from his youth, and Jesus "looked on him and loved him" and did not condemn. He was sympathetic to sincerity, but bring hypocrisy into His presence and His commending changes to condemning! In religion there was nothing that brought out His wrath more than hypocrisy, because hypocrisy is a thing which robs God of His true glory.
These are all things that made up His life. You see, His priority governed everything and it was over a lot of things, as we have seen. His priority was over natural judgments - natural judgments, not always sinful judgments, evil judgments, but just natural judgments. When suggestions were made to Him, when persuasion was brought to bear upon Him, and when men projected their minds, He knew, He knew the truth: 'My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. There are two worlds. I live in one, you live in the other.' And so this concern for the Father's glory often necessitated that He had to set natural judgments on one side and seek His Father's judgment on the matter.
Natural feelings often had to be set aside. He understood (we shall come to that in this eleventh chapter of John, with Lazarus and his sisters) He was very sympathetic, He understood how they were feeling. He truly entered into their human life, but when they sought to persuade and influence Him to act merely on the basis of natural feelings, He put it back. He stayed away two days where He was, and did not arrive until the fourth day when, humanly speaking, it was all too late. The sorrow had run its course - not unsympathetic, as the chapter shows - and yet, He cannot, He cannot because He has some greater thing in view, He cannot just surrender to human feelings, natural feelings; natural feelings. He has got great principles which are governing Him.
And as for His personal interests, He was all the time thrusting them back. It would have been greatly to His personal interest to accept the devil's offer of the kingdoms of this world and the glory thereof, He repudiated the whole thing. When speaking of His Cross, it might have been to His natural advantage if He had listened to Peter when Peter said: "This shall not come unto Thee Lord, be it far from Thee..." "Get thee behind Me, Satan!" said He to Simon Peter. You see, personal interests! Personal interests? No, they must take a back place: "I am not governed by these things." His constant motive, constant motive was His Father's glory.
Now before I can go on any further I must return you to the definition of that word. It may be in this place that I have given this definition I don't know, but I do not know of a better. What does glory mean where God is concerned? What is the meaning of the word 'glory' when it relates to God? It just means this, dear friends, the... shall I call it the rebound of God's complete satisfaction, when things have answered to God's nature, God's mind, God is so satisfied, God is delighted, God is well-pleased, there comes out to that which answers to Him, something of God's own satisfaction, God's pleasure. You can put that to the test in more ways than one in your own lives, but take your Bible and begin at the beginning.
When God had created all things for His pleasure, for His glory, and all things were as He intended and commanded, and everything was governed by: 'And so it was... and so it was... and so it was as the Lord said it should be', the end of that was: "And God looked on all things and said, it is very good". And I would like to have been in the atmosphere of that, would you not, in the realm where everything just satisfied God, and there emanated from God this sense of complete satisfaction and pleasure. That's glory; that is glory!
You see, whenever we come into the new creation, are born from above, and that on the ground of our recognition and acceptance of the perfect, finished work of the Lord Jesus for our sin, for our salvation (and we are better believers at the beginning than often we are later on!), when we come on to that ground of the new creation in Christ where everything answers to God's pleasure, don't we have a sense of glory? The beginning of the Christian life is so often like that. While we couldn't explain it theologically or doctrinally, but my word, we feel it! 'This is glorious to be saved! This is glorious!' It is just something that wells up inside of us. What is it? It is the Holy Spirit bearing witness to God's satisfaction with God's Son whom we have embraced with all the knowledge and understanding of Him that we have. We have accepted the perfection of Himself and His work, and there is a reflection, an emanation of His glory, the satisfaction and pleasure of God in our hearts. When we get away from that, you know, that simple trust in the Lord Jesus, the glory often fades - but I mustn't go on to that for the moment, we come back.
You move on and you have God's mind completely and perfectly revealed in pattern form for the creation of the tabernacle, as we call it, in the wilderness, meticulously prescribed to a detail, to a pin, to a thread, to a colour, to a position, to a measure - all given by God. And the last, the last chapter of that: "As the Lord commanded Moses... as the Lord commanded Moses... as the Lord commanded Moses." It's almost monotonous: "as the Lord commanded Moses", it's done, and the glory fills the tabernacle. The glory - God was satisfied! And you and I know that that tabernacle was only a foreshadowing in type of the Lord Jesus. There it is.
We move on to the temple, and again, the prescription, the pattern, was given to David, and through Solomon it is all perfected. And when it's finished, according to the heavenly pattern, the glory fills the temple, and even the priests cannot abide. God fills everything with His satisfaction.
The Lord Jesus comes to His baptism and His great committal, and as He comes up out of the water the heavens opened and the Father's voice pronounces: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" - well pleased... that's a good foundation for starting your work isn't it, your life work, as He did. God's satisfaction, the glory, and John says: "We beheld His glory, we beheld His glory."
The perfection of His work by the Cross; nothing left to be done after Calvary. It is all done. Oh beloved, believe this, believe it with all your heart: there is nothing remaining to be done for your eternal salvation. Nothing! If you try, you try to add something, you will lose the glory and get out of the place of God's satisfaction. But when the Cross has accomplished the work of redemption, it's a finished work, a finished work and the sacrifice was well pleasing to God. At Calvary it was finished, that Son was raised from the dead, and it will not be long now before the Temple receives the glory on the Day of Pentecost - what glory filled the house of God! Why? Jesus was glorified! "The Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" but glorified, the Spirit is given.
Well, there you have your Bible background. At the end of the Bible it is seeing this glory coming in the new Jerusalem: "I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband, having the glory of God". It is the perfected work in the Church, having the glory of God. It's all over, it's all finished, the battle is won, the course of Christian trial and discipline and suffering, it's all over, and the glory crowns everything at last because God is satisfied.
Have I, on the side of the Scripture at any rate, proved the definition that glory is the expression of God's perfect satisfaction?
Well, I said you could put it to the test in your own experience. Some of us have had to go through this experience to learn these things, they are not just theories. What has been the most miserable time in your life? Well, I can tell you what has been the most miserable time, lacking in glory, and having all that is not glory, in my life. It was when I allowed the devil to succeed in putting me outside of the finished work of Christ by accusation: 'The Lord is displeased with you. The Lord has it against you. The Lord is really, because of this affliction, trial, suffering, and sorrow or something, the Lord is not well pleased with you.' And you go down under that and the glory goes. And while you stay there, there is no glory, simply because, you see, God's ground, God's ground is this ground of the absolute finality of the work of His Son for our redemption. Get off that ground by any accusation or condemnation of the devil, forsake the ground of Christ, and the glory goes and it will never come back while you stay there. Make no mistake about that! Yes, while you are under, occupied with yourself, how long are you going to take to learn that that is not the ground of glory? Well, it will take just so long as you stay there on the ground of this wretched, miserable self that God has done with in the Cross of His Son. If we move over on to the ground of Christ and His perfection, and by faith put our feet down on that, the glory will return.
Now, my time has gone for this morning, and we have only opened the door, but we spoke about the Lord Jesus, we have really got to apply all this. I am not here to give you a lot more teaching for your heads. I have prayed the Lord to use His word as a shaft to really cut right in and do something, and so we have got to apply this.
Dear friends, do we, you and I, really, really want God to be glorified in our lives? You say: "Yes!" You'd say yes, I'd sooner you say, "Oh, well... well, let us see what that means and then we will say 'Yes'".
First of all, first of all it means exactly the same as it meant with the Lord Jesus, for He was here as our representative Man before God. In the first place then, it means the great and utter crisis: committal. Committal! Oh, let that word get hold of us!
A little while ago I was in Scotland staying in a hotel and there came into the room a man who, I looked at him and he rather impressed me, and I said to myself, "Now, there's something about you, I want to make contact with you before long." He was just dressed, as we say over there (I don't know whether you say it here) in mufti and civies, ordinary dress, as I am today, perhaps a little more holiday style, but something about him made me feel I wanted to contact that man and I watched for the opportunity. And it came, everyone else went out of the room, I was left with him. So I put out one or two leading questions. I said, "Are you on holiday?"
"Well," he said, "Not exactly. I have been on my back for some long time with a thrombosis and the doctor told me to come and have a rest and let my wife have a rest, and so we are here."
I said, "Have you come some distance?"
And he said, "No, I live locally, in this town, close by."
"Well," I said, "That's interesting!"
He said, "I'm the minister of such and such a church..." mentioning one of the most important Presbyterian churches in the west of Scotland. Well, I know that church very well, I'd known it from boyhood.
So I said to him, "Oh, are you? I knew your predecessor!" I mentioned him, we were getting on! So we went over the history of the town and the church and so on, and then I referred to a certain family that lived in the neighbourhood, a minister and his family, a family of fine sons, five or six sons and a daughter, all of them who sang in the choir, and seemed to be so promising in their youth. I used to attend there, and I knew them all so well. And I felt at one time then, that they were going to really mean something for the Lord. But they all went away into the world. Not one of them, except the daughter, went on with the Lord in any way. They became successful men in the world, and I mentioned it to this man, and I said, "That family of tragedy, tragedy..."
He said, "You know, one of them," mentioning his name, whom I knew very well, "Whenever he comes back here, he comes back to the church."
I said, "Yes, I quite think he may do, but I know them right up to date and I know that he is not a committed Christian. He is not a committed Christian."
I noticed his ears pricked up and that struck him - something that he'd had no idea of. And we went on, and then he said, "A little while ago I invited a certain man..." whose name might be known to many of you here, one of the Keswick speakers, "I invited him to come and speak at my church because I felt that something new was needed in my church." And then as he talked he said, "You know, I think that he was what you might call a committed Christian..."
The shaft had got home! The idea, the idea in that word 'committed' was quite a new idea: "I think he might be what you would call a committed Christian!" There are Christians, and committed Christians - I must leave that with you.
The great crisis experience in the life of the Lord Jesus was when He made the great committal to the glory of His Father and said in effect: "Everything from this day is going to be judged of its value by how much glory there is in it for My Father." That's a crisis. And then, as I have said, everything did fall into line with that with Him. He saw to it that His conduct, His own life with His Father behind, where no one saw or knew, and then His conduct before the world, and before people, and before His disciples, was governed by this one thing - His Father getting the glory. His behaviour, the way He spoke, the way He acted, if He had been a business man: His business transactions. His business transactions; were they for the glory of God? If not, He would have had nothing to do with anything in business that was not for the glory of God if He had any say in the matter.
His family... His family, His brothers, sisters, mother - His family. Is my family to the glory of God? The behaviour in my family, to us, my children, my husband and wife relationship, how we go on as a family, is it to the glory of God? To people looking on, how do they view it? Everything. It's searching, it's searching!
If you come to a position like that where you have, really have a transaction with the Lord, dear friends, do not think that that is going to mean a life of loss, a life of loss. You are going to see the glory of God. That is the upshot of this eleventh chapter of John, of Bethany, over Lazarus and his sisters. The upshot, difficult as the way to it was for them, the last picture is one of an emanation of the glory of the pleasure of God. What a delightful scene that is in chapter twelve isn't it? What was it like? You see He came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who He had raised from the dead, and they made Him a supper. And Martha in a new spirit of service served, and Mary sat and Lazarus sat and the disciples sat. It must have been a beautiful time - real glory in resurrection Life. But they had been through something to get to that! They had been through it to get to that! Oh, they had been tried and tested on this question: "Said I not unto thee, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Thou shouldest see the glory of God!
Do you want to see the glory of God in your own life? It is not going to be a life of loss, for if you get the glory of God then you cannot get anything beyond that, or better than that. Sorry if we leave out the big things, we leave it to the afternoon.
Father take this word and use it to the end which is in You, Thine own glory Lord, Thine own glory. Help us all to face this issue and all its practical implications and make the great committal and see the glory of God. In the Name of the Lord Jesus, amen.