Christ the Glory of God
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”- Hebrews 1:3
Divine glory, we have seen, is often depicted as a blazing light that we will fully see on the final day (Rev. 21:23). It is at the moment largely veiled to us, for we do not yet see God face-to-face. Note, however, that we have said that this glory is largely veiled to us, not completely veiled. It is possible for us now, by faith, to see something of the glory of God.
That is one of the implications of today’s passage, which tells us that Christ “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). If we want to know what God is like, we must look to Christ, for Christ is God incarnate (Phil. 2:5–11). Divine patience, divine love, divine wrath, divine holiness—we get the fullest picture of these in Jesus.
But, we might ask, how can this also be true of the glory of God? After all, did not the Son of God veil His glory when He took on human flesh? If we are talking about the revelation of divine glory as blindingly pure light, then the answer is yes. Apart from Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration, no one who saw Christ during His earthly ministry saw the light of divine glory (Matt. 17:1–2). Yet while Jesus veiled the light of His glory, He did exercise other divine attributes such as His sovereignty over creation when He calmed the storm (Mark 4:35–41). Since we have also seen that God’s glory is in one sense the summation of His attributes, anytime Jesus exercised divine attributes, people saw something of the divine glory.
What about those of us who live today, two thousand years after the earthly ministry of Christ? Do we see the divine glory? No, we do not see the fullness of divine glory, and we will not see it until we meet God face-to-face and all of the light of His beauty and majesty is evident to us. However, since Christ is the radiance of the divine glory (Heb. 1:3), it is possible for us to catch a glimpse of this glory, not with our physical eyes but with our spiritual eyes—with the eyes of faith. As we read Scripture and believe what it says about Jesus and His exercise of His divine attributes and prerogatives, we are, by faith, getting a look at the divine glory. To know Christ by faith is to know God Himself, and to know God is to know something of His divine nature, including His glory. John Calvin comments, “God is truly and really known in Christ; for he is not his obscure or shadowy image, but his impress which resembles him, as money the impress of the die with which it is stamped.”
Today, we see something of God’s glory by faith as we trust in Jesus. One day we will see this glory in its fullest sense, insofar as we are able as creatures to see His glory, for on that day we will view Christ by sight and not merely by faith. But that does not mean we get no true glimpse of God’s glory now as we look to Christ. And as we grow in our knowledge of Christ, we will also grow in our longing to see the fullness of the divine glory.
Passages for Further Study
2 Corinthians 4:6
1 Peter 4:13
2 Peter 1:16–18