Sunday, March 25, 2012

Glory through sufferings (Jn. 13:31-32)

This is my personal summary of Rev Dr Stephen Tong's sermon on 18 March 2012 in STEMI Expository Preaching at True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 13:31-32

After the last supper, Judas had no more opportunity to hear Jesus’ teaching. Do we have the awareness of the people we meet might never come back, and therefore how we need to use every opportunity we have?

Satan entered into Judas. How could this happen to someone Jesus handpicked as one of His 12 disciples? This tells us that none of us have special privileges. Things that happen to others can happen to us as well. So we need to be watchful. God allowed Judas to betray Jesus, but it was not God’s will, it was Judas’ will. God still kept Judas accountable for his sin. It does not mean that if God allows you to sin, He would not punish you. If God abandon you to your sin, He will punish you.

Jesus said Satan is a liar, the father of all lies. The origin of sin is not God, but the devil. God is the truth and the source of all goodness. He is not responsible for sin. He does not plan for sin. The one who plans to sin has greater guilt. Satan sinned out of himself, in the same manner Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus in accordance to his own will, allowed by God.

After Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.” (Jn. 13:31-32) Something similar has been mentioned before (Jn. 12:2-28). What does it mean to glorify God? What does it mean to say God is glorified?

Jesus Himself said, shouldn’t the Son of Man suffer and thus enter into glory? That is glory that comes through sufferings, from thorny crown into eternal glory. Without submission to God’s will, there is no entrance into God’s eternal glory. In the Bible, true glory is related to sufferings. It is something the world cannot accept. The things that are honored in the eyes of men are abominable in the eyes of God. The humiliation of the cross is the glory of God. Christ’s death is very humiliating, is the cruellest thing in the history of mankind.

How can this be glory? Someone understood this and wrote a hymn about it. Fanny Crosby was born in 19th century. She was blind because of wrong diagnosis during her childhood. She lived a long life for 90 years. She did not complain but wrote over 8000 hymns. In one hymn, she expressed her understanding of God’s glory: “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever…” She understood that it is through the cross you know the glory of God.

Do we have the glory of God? When you endure suffering in obedience to the will of God, the Spirit of glory is upon you.


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