Told in Heb. 12:2 Jesus endured humiliation of the cross in exchange “for the joy set before him”. He was fully engaged in his life, surroundings, people during his ministry; not his only focus, continually had in view what lay beyond his humiliation, what we call his exaltation. Was a future glory he never lost sight of, prayed about it specifically the night he was betrayed:
see John 17:1-5.
Had a pre-Creation glory with the Father, characteristic of his existence until incarnation. At that time was veiled, hidden from view by the “tent” of his body.
On one occasion, Jesus’ transfiguration, that glory broke through the tent briefly, then hidden again. Gave tiny evidence of what Jesus was praying for, that his humanity would share in glory of his divinity. Lord Jesus had real human body, like ours in every respect, subject to all same things including death. He is also prototype, “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Transformation that took place in Jesus’ body at resurrection what we can expect future to hold for all who belong to him. Paul gives tantalizing insights into what that means:
1 Cor. 15:42-43 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
Raised no longer subject to decay, with a new power, possessing a glory beyond description. A glory similar to what Lord Jesus presently has, seen by John on Isle of Patmos. With new surroundings, will be a glory that so far exceeds anything we can imagine, no comparison. Paul tries to communicate what he knows to be true, but runs out of words:
2 Cor. 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”
Light, momentary, affliction – easy for you to say, you might think. For us, here and now, present earthly existence, suffering a big deal, for some more than others. Don’t forget who is speaking – apostle Paul – suffered both at hands of others including “nature” (2 Cor. 11:23-28) as well as internal infirmity (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Even so, might think “yeah, but… he’s not standing in my sneakers. There’s this and this and this and it’s big and painful and overwhelming and he doesn’t get it.” What’s he saying? All of that put together no match for future glory that awaits believer.
Think of it this way: balance scale, 2 pans, both empty, in balance. Now pile up all heavy weight of present suffering and grief and affliction in one pan. As crushing a load as that may seem, watch what happens as God fills that other pan with future glory – “the glory which shall be revealed in us”. Truly is no comparison between what is now, what awaits us. Meanwhile – we groan, we hope, we wait. Eagerly.
A. creation waits v.19
present existence isn’t what it should be
cannot fulfill original design because of conditions imposed by God – because you have done this….
place created specifically for man – “God planted a garden” made off-limits to Adam and Eve
true for all creation, not just mankind
we’re all in it together, creature and cosmos as well
God is God of order, created according to order, expects things to proceed in orderly fashion; but,… 2nd law of thermodynamics: entropy (disorder) of universe increases.
cars rust, abandoned buildings fall down, people age, stars explode – all signs something wrong
man’s completed redemption signal for rest of creation
cosmos waiting with eager longing, anticipation for specific point in time – an unveiling of our true and final destiny
1 John 3:2 “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”
in hope of something better – eager longing
fans in the stands, straining to see if their favorite has crossed the finish line; even if successful completion is a given, don’t begin celebrating until race is over
B. creation was subjected v.20
beautiful, yet burdened
beauty to God’s creation wherever you look – out into far reaches of the cosmos, deep into intricacies of a cell – yet laboring under burden, effort of existence, showing wear and tear
frustrated, yet hopeful
futility of going around wheel of life, one day after another in deadening sameness, only momentary bright spots to provide relief
best efforts always fall short of perfection, our ideal; still keep trying, hoping tomorrow or next time will be better
curse wasn’t intended to be final
before God ever got to addressing Eve, then Adam, explaining consequences for their actions, gave declaration of hope
Gen. 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
the instigator would be defeated, enemy would be overcome
C. creation will be delivered v.21
bondage of corruption: decay, disorder, decline – all that is cause of frustration and sorrow will be thing of the past
Jesus’ body while in grave was preserved from decay: Acts 2:31 “he [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”
on that day, creation will be delivered from slavery to corruption, participating with saints in victory Lord Jesus won by his death and resurrection
not simply a line in the sand – beyond this point, no further change; whatever decay or disorder is present halted, to progress no further – would represent only partial victory
God’s purpose: to roll back effects of curse, restore created order to original order or even better
see choice of words: not simply liberty / freedom, glorious liberty; God saw all his creation was “very good”, intends that when redemption of mankind is complete, remainder of cosmos will also be “very good” – will be new heaven and new earth, newly made and a suitable home for redeemed perfected man
D. creation groans v.22
birth pains, not death struggle
picture is one of entire cosmos joining together in a “fractured chorus” of frustration and agony
planet earth’s contortions through earthquake, tsunami, volcano, even coronal mass ejections from nearest star just small part of cosmic labor
no hint here in biblical description of a universe of limited resources slowly dying – it’s birth pains!
increasing intensity as birth nears
would be consistent with rest of Bible and its view of the end: contractions get closer together, longer and stronger
“groaning” will be productive
will give birth to new order, new age, all things made new – including resurrection to life for believer
E. we groan, we hope, we wait v.23-25
we live in the “already but not yet” – we have the engagement ring but the marriage is still future – guaranteed but not possessed
first step in process has begun, will of certainty continue until conclusion: resurrection of the body
Paul described the finished product as the spiritual body (1Cor 15:44). The future bodily resurrection of believers will be the full harvest of redemption.
Our bodies will be like that of the glorified Lord
Philippians 3:20, 21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself”
we don’t have it so we must wait – enduring patience
not a “do nothing” kind of waiting – it’s active waiting, engaged in work Lord Jesus left for us to do
constant striving to please God dependent on strength he supplies until he calls us home
The Christian pilgrim is on the road to glory, assured that the promises of the word and the spiritual energy provided for his “walk” are not an illusion. As he sees the dark tunnel of death ahead of him, he is confident that beyond it the road leads on to his destination, though it remains unseen. Word Biblical Commentary
waiting with eager confidence
eager for our future state
possessing true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24) to fullest extent, able to live pleasing to God in every respect, able to worship him in his immediate presence as he deserves
confident it will be ours
Lord Jesus rose from the dead – because he lives, we too shall live
our preaching and our faith is not empty and futile; we are not still in our sins, we are true witnesses of God because God did indeed raise up Christ (1 Cor. 15:14-17)
Forerunner has already gone before, has endured all we must yet endure, is awaiting us (Heb. 6:20) Unless,… he should return first! (Acts 1:11)
Which raises a question. One of life and death. Are you confident that future glory awaits you? If Lord Jesus should call you out of this life right now, would he greet you with “well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord”? Or would it be, “Depart from me, I never knew you?” “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) I trust that is true for you, that future glory will indeed be yours.