The Ways of God

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 7 - The Way of the Glory

"These things spoke Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee... I glorified Thee on the earth... And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (John 17:1,4,5).

"But this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).

"But when Jesus heard it, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby" (John 11:4).

"These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him" (John 12:16).

"And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:23,24).

"When therefore he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; and God shall glorify Him in Himself, and straightway shall He glorify Him" (John 13:31,32).

"Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour comes, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (John 16:31,32).

"He shall glorify Me: for He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you" (John 16:14).

You will have noted the common word in all these passages, which are only a selection from others containing the same word. This word forms a pathway right through the gospel by John. It is the pathway of the glory. You will have noticed, even in this selection of passages which we have quoted, how the Lord Jesus places everything on the ground of His being glorified. For Him, from beginning to end, this was the ground of everything. We should be impressed with that without any exposition of it or enlargement upon it. The fact is overwhelmingly shown and declared and verified in this book, that for the Lord Jesus everything rests upon the ground of His being glorified. The phrase which He used a number of times, and seemed to be governed by very much in His life, was 'the hour'. "Mine hour" (John 2:4); "The hour is come" (John 12:23); "His hour was not yet come" (John 8:20). There was an hour which governed His whole life. There was an all-governing time in everything and that hour, that particular time, was in His mind, coming up again and again as He went along. He called it 'the hour', the hour of His being glorified. It was as though He were bringing out of the future something that governed the present situation, whatever it might be, from time to time.

When you ask what is the glory of the Lord Jesus, what does the glorifying of the Lord Jesus mean, the answer throughout the Bible is this: the glory of God is always the expression of His complete satisfaction. When God is perfectly satisfied, then the glory of God always breaks out. You can trace that through the Old and New Testament. The Lord Jesus was living in the light of a time which He called 'the hour', when the Father's full satisfaction would be realised. He was living in the light of the Father being fully satisfied, the glory of God's satisfaction, and bringing that into every detail of His life.

But you notice that He was governed again and again by this 'hour' business, whatever it was. Begin in John 2 at the marriage in Cana of Galilee - "this beginning of His signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory" (John 2:11). But notice what led up to that: the feast, the failure of the wine, and His mother, anxious and concerned, turning to Him and saying, "They have no wine" (John 2:3). Jesus turned to her and said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come" (John 2:4). But then He acted. After that pause, waiting for something, saying in effect: 'I can do nothing of Myself. I can only do what I do as the Father enables Me, gives Me His sanction to do, and when it comes from the Father it will be quite alright. The Father will be glorified. I am not here to glorify Myself by what I do; I am here to glorify the Father.' In His heart He was saying: 'Father, will it glorify You if I do this thing?' And He got the answer back - 'Alright', and "manifested His glory". His hour, that great future hour of the Father's satisfaction, was brought forward. And that is not imagination and strained interpretation, because you have actual occasions when He said, "Father, glorify Thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 12:28). He was living, you see, in close touch with the Father.

On another occasion, when the feast of tabernacles was at hand, His brethren after the flesh said: "Depart hence, and go into Judea" (John 7:3), implying that everybody was going up to Jerusalem to the feast. He said: "Go ye up unto the feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; because My time is not yet fulfilled" (John 7:8). In effect He was saying, 'I am not just governed by what everybody else does. I am not governed by common acceptance, popular opinion, the fashionable thing to do. I must have it from the Father that this going up is in some way going to be to the Father's satisfaction. You go up.' "But when His brethren were gone up unto the feast, then went He also up" (John 7:10). Strange behaviour, wasn't it? But what was going on inside? It was this all the time: 'Father, are You going to get something out of this? Is this going to be Your pleasure? I cannot do it on any other ground than that it glorifies You. If You are not going to find satisfaction in this, well, let them have all the feasts they like. I will not be there. Let them do what they have always been doing, but I will not be in it. Unless there is something for the glory and the satisfaction and the pleasure of the Father, it is not My hour.' He evidently got the witness from the Father at that moment: 'It is alright. I have got something in this.' And He went up. And, you see, God did have something in His going up.

He was putting everything on the ground of glory, the glory of God in Jesus Christ; the glory of Christ. That is something to govern a life, isn't it? Does this really minister to the glory of Christ, my going here, or not going? What I do, or what I do not do, whether I act, or refrain from acting; how much is this going to minister to His glory? That is the governing thing: a touch with heaven. 'Can I do this? Will I be doing it for my own glory, my own pleasure, my own satisfaction, or does His glory require it? Will it minister to His glory?' That was the basis of the life of the Lord Jesus. He called that 'His hour'. He was governed by the hour of the Father's satisfaction, and that was His glory. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 4:34). That is only another way of saying, 'My glory is His pleasure.'

So, you see, His life was governed by this. But then you notice from one fragment which we read, this glorifying of the Lord Jesus was the signal for the change of the dispensation by the coming of the Holy Spirit. "This spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). In other words, Jesus is glorified and the Spirit is released. The Spirit comes; the great advent of the Spirit takes place. The dispensation is changed into the dispensation of the Holy Spirit - and how much the Lord Jesus stressed this fact! "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7). Obviously, He put much more importance upon the Holy Spirit coming than upon His own staying in the flesh.

The signal for the coming of the Spirit, as Pentecost so clearly declares and shows both in the act and in what followed, was Jesus having been glorified. I mean by 'in the act', the day of Pentecost was a day full of the glory of the Lord. Everywhere the disciples went, full of this glory, they were preaching, 'Jesus is glorified! Jesus is on high!' The glory went out over the earth, but the signal for that was Jesus being glorified.

And this is a very practical thing. Whatever we may desire from the Holy Spirit (and we pray for the Holy Spirit when we want power, light, guidance and we ask for the Holy Spirit for a lot of things for a lot of purposes) remember this: the Holy Spirit will only act in any way at all if the motive is the glorifying of the Lord Jesus. Nothing else! You can pray until you cannot pray any more for the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit genuinely will make no response until your motive is that Jesus may be glorified; not that 'I may have something, do something, or be something'. No, nothing like that. Jesus being glorified governs the whole matter of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has put it on that ground. So you can be quite sure of this, that once you are adjusted wholly to the glorifying of the Lord Jesus, truly and rightly adjusted, and have given the Holy Spirit the ground that He wants, then He will move spontaneously.

Notice again - and this is the door through which you enter into such a wealth in this gospel - that this matter of the glorifying of the Lord Jesus was the ground of the reversing of situations from the impossible to the possible, or to the actual. There is a sense in which this whole gospel of John is the gospel of impossible situations which are turned into actualities. Have you ever thought of that? It is a whole series of events from beginning to end, of utterly impossible situations on the natural level. We will briefly take a look at them.

The Marriage in Cana of Galilee (John chapter 2)

First, the marriage in Cana of Galilee. The whole event is proceeding and then suddenly, it breaks down, collapses, for they have no wine. Wine is the key to that thing. It is the whole basis of everything, of the joy and the fellowship, and it broke down there. There is shame, disappointment, reproach, and the bottom, as we say, has fallen out of everything. When the wine fails it is a hopeless situation. What are they going to do? They can do nothing. Everything is at an end. I expect those who knew about it were looking at one another in consternation, and were perhaps afraid to let people know because of the disaster that it spelt, the utter spoiling of the whole thing. It was hopeless. And, mark you, Jesus was very careful - and this comes up again and again in the gospel - to see that it was hopeless. "They have no wine... What have I to do with thee?" 'I am not here just to redeem broken-down social occasions. I am not here just to make things a little more pleasant for people and save them from their embarrassments. I am here for the purpose of doing what is utterly impossible to men. That is why I have come!' Life has broken down. Life is full of shame and embarrassment and disappointment and hopelessness. That is where you begin: a hopeless, impossible situation for man by nature. And He has come in to that, and He showed forth His glory by changing this hopeless situation into not only one of hope, but of realisation. That is chapter two.

John Chapter 3

What about chapter three? This man Nicodemus is trying to find his way into the kingdom, to find the secret of the kingdom of God, and he has all that ever a man could have: a religion and learning. "Art thou the teacher of Israel?" said Jesus. He had everything of tradition, inheritance, position and prestige, everything that a man could have; and still he was dissatisfied, speaking like a man in despair. He was coming to Jesus by night to try and find a solution to his heart problem, and it was a heart problem with this man. Jesus takes great pains to show how hopeless his situation is. He does not take up this man on his own ground and encourage and comfort him. He throws it straight at him - "Ye must be born anew"; "Except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God." It is hopeless for the best of this world. It is an impossible situation naturally, no matter how much religion you possess.

But Jesus changed that hopeless situation, not only for Nicodemus, but for many more, and for us. He turned it not only into hope, but into realisation in the kingdom. It was an impossible one, you see. My point is that Jesus was continually making it perfectly clear that, but for Him, the situation was impossible, but with Him there is no such thing as impossibility.

John Chapter 4

Was there ever a clearer example of hopelessness than that woman of Sychar? "Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband." And when she begins to speak you hear her tones of despair: "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw." It is the cry of a woman who has exhausted life of all its hopes and is still in despair. You know what He did with that! Jesus drew out this hopeless situation, didn't He? He made her aware of it; He took pains to let her know. It sounds cruel for Him to bring up her past, but He is letting her see how her own state is a hopeless one in order that He might show that He is the hope of the hopeless.

Still in chapter four: "(Jesus) came therefore again unto Cana of Galilee... And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum... and (he) besought Him that He would come down, and heal his son; for he was at the point of death." Again it sounds so cruel. To this poor, distraught, heartbroken father, with his whole life wrapped up in that boy who was at the point of death, Jesus says: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will in no wise believe." Is this unkindness? Is it cruelty, lack of sympathy? No, Jesus is drawing this man out to his extremity and making him recognise and acknowledge that only in Him is there any hope. He says, "Sir, come down before my child dies." It is the cry almost of despair, as though he had come to the last resort - Jesus. But that is what Jesus wanted! Only Jesus. There is no other hope. And Jesus did not go. He said, "Go thy way; thy son lives." You know the rest of the story. It is one more of these examples of the impossible.

John Chapter 6

Chapter six: "Whence are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" There was a great multitude of five thousand people. "Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread" - and if you like to look into your Bible and work that out you will find that that represented a year's wages for a labouring man in Palestine - "is not sufficient for them". Two hundred pence was not sufficient to meet this need. Jesus had put the question as a test: 'How can it be done?' 'It can't be done', said the disciples, 'It is hopeless. It is impossible.' "Make the people sit down", said Jesus. Well, you know the rest of the story. The situation is quite hopeless, quite impossible, but is turned to real actuality.

John Chapter 9

Here we find a man born blind. This is strange language and a strange kind of argument. A lot has been made of this and all sorts of things have been said about it. The disciples asked the Master, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be manifest in him." Well, the man was born blind and, mark you, the man's own language about this shows how he realised the hopelessness of his position. When the rulers challenged him about who it was who had given him his sight and said, "This man is a sinner", the man said, "Why, herein is the marvel... Since the world began it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind." Since the world began! His idea about it, you see, was this: that this was a hopeless situation without question. "Since the world began it was never heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind." That is pretty hopeless, isn't it? Yes, Jesus meant it to be like that for the glory. A hopeless situation!

John Chapter 11

Chapter eleven brings us to Lazarus. And you know the Lord's attitude here! They sent to tell Him, "He whom Thou lovest is sick." He did not dispute that statement about His love; nevertheless He stayed where He was four days. And when at last He came and moved towards the tomb, the sisters said, "Lord, by this time he stinks." The Lord had deliberately forced it up to that to make the situation as hopeless as anything could be naturally. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby."

John Chapter 21

Go on to the end, the last chapter. What is it? "They entered into the boat; and that night they took nothing." A fisherman's lifelong discernment, knowledge and ability - all exhausted! 'Nothing' is the verdict upon that. Well, you know the rest: "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find." An impossible situation was turned to a glorious realisation, for His glory. He put everything on the ground of His glory.

There is a lot of comfort for us in this. Oh, how often do we despair and feel the hopelessness of things! While Jesus lives there is no such thing as impossibility and hopelessness. It does not require a lot to say that, but, oh, sometimes it is the most testing thing that we could believe that a thing is possible after all. But it is. Many of us have enough experience in this, because He has taken pains to bring us to the place where, but for the Lord, it is the end. But for the Lord there is no more possible. However, again and again, He has changed that hopeless, impossible situation into something for His own glory, putting everything on His glory!

Now do you see what He is doing in all this? He is putting our life upon the same basis as His own. He came and lived His life on that ground, the glory of the Father. Nothing that was not to the glory of the Father could be done. All was to be to the glory of the Father. Everything was tested and challenged by this: 'How much does this serve the glory of the Father? If it does not, there is no place for it. Only if it does do I entertain it.' Now He turns that over and puts our life on to that same ground. He put the people in Cana on that ground. He put the woman of Samaria on that ground. He put Nicodemus on that ground.

The Pool of Bethesda (John Chapter 5)

And I left out one case: the man at the Pool of Bethesda. What a story of hopelessness that is, in chapter five! This man will let you know that he feels his situation is a hopeless one! He had been there thirty-eight years, and every time he tried to get into the water someone got ahead of him. A cry of despair - and Jesus changed it. He was putting this man's life on the same basis as His own.

All the way along it was like that. It is a very safe position to have your life on the same basis on which the Lord Jesus had His. And, you know, that is the destiny of the church. What is it that Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians? "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever" (Eph. 3:21). How? Just this way: that the church's life has been a life of impossible situations turned to glorious realisations. Is not that the history of the true church all the way along? See at the beginning, and you say 'Impossible!' Nero slaughtering ten million Christians! That shows how the church had grown, how quickly and mightily. But it is computed that he massacred no fewer than ten million Christians! Well, that is a lot, and leaves things pretty small, weak, and hopeless. And again and again the church has gone that way through history - but on it goes. It is greater than ever today. Hopeless and impossible... but for Jesus! And what is the object, what is it that is governing this? Oh, it is not because the church is anything, or that you and I are anything; His glory governs everything. It is unto His glory - "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus."

There is much more that supports this in those passages which we read. You remember one occasion near the end, at the Feast of the Passover, there were at Jerusalem among the multitude certain Greeks going up to the Feast. They were going about looking at the sights of Jerusalem and they included in their sightseeing this One of whom everyone was talking, Jesus of Nazareth. They came to the disciples and said, "Sir, we would see Jesus." Philip comes and tells Andrew; Andrew comes, and Philip, and they tell Jesus. And what did Jesus say? Immediately - "The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:23,24). How is Jesus glorified? How is Jesus really seen? They said, "We would see Jesus", and Jesus said, in effect, "You don't just see Me when you see Me after the flesh. You see Me when you see 'a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongue' (Rev. 7:9). One Grain, having died, reproducing itself in a mighty harvest. That will show forth My glory. That will let you know who I am. Not just one of the sights of Jerusalem, but one of the sights of heaven." It is a new revelation and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. That was the thought there: how Jesus is really known or seen, how He is produced in other grains of wheat, in you and me, and in many others. That is how He is glorified. He puts our life on that basis.

And so He says to us that it is to be the same with us as it was with Him, falling into the ground and dying. And He immediately adds, "He that loves his life loses it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). You let your life go for Christ, you pour out your life unto death in His interests, and glory will come along that line. That is the way of the glory.

I think I have said enough to make my point clear. This is the work. The Lord Jesus has put everything of His own life and ours upon this one foundation - His glory - challenging and testing everything according to that; governing everything by that, saying to us, "Now, it must be true of you as it was of Me that you have your life governed by one motive and one interest: how much does this minister to My glory?" That dismisses all talk about, "Well, must I?" or, "May I not?" "Have I got to?" There is no place for any talk like that, dear friends, when we are mastered by this - His glory. "If this does not serve His glory, then I'll let it go", and, "If this way can lead to His glory, no matter what it means to me, then that is the way I am going." It is the way of the glory all the time, the ground of the glory.

May the Lord write this word deep in our hearts and make us men and women, people, who are committed to the glory of our Lord Jesus!

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