Chapter 17 The Glory of Christ

How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! (Zechariah 9:17)

The Scriptures are written to set forth the glory of God’s beloved Son. So it is said in Acts 10:43: “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins”; in Luke 24:27: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself; and again in John 5:39: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” In the Old Testament His glory was somewhat veiled, but in the New Testament it shines forth with meridian splendor. Yet there are clear beams of real glory shining out of this verse from Zechariah. The prophet himself is almost ecstatic in his utterance: “How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!”

The Goodness of the Lord

In the context He is set forth as God—and in the first place as the God of providence. He rules over all—sovereign and supreme as God. The whole creation is in His hands. All creatures were created by Him and all things—rational and irrational—animate and inanimate—angels, devils, men, winds and seas—are subject to Him and must obey Him. It is because of His supreme authority that He can make all things work together for good and benefit His people. He governs all. Ezekiel in 1:26 views Him with prophetic insight as a Man upon the throne of heaven and governing all things. It is because of His governmental rule that His people have been preserved through centuries of time when as sheep in the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3). The bush burns but is not consumed (Exodus 3:2).

This is a vast matter. You will see this when you remember that He upholds the universe which He has created, for “by Him all things consist” or hold together (Colossians 1:17). He also restrains the wicked by the bridle of His providence and reins them in, as in Psalm 76:10: “The remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Thus He limits creatures in their actings—permits them only to go so far, which wrath He uses for the accomplishment of His ends and the rest He restrains. He also protects His people in a world of enemies and their manifest hate. In His providential government He often, even in this life, punishes evildoers such as He did with Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and some of the Caesars of Rome. Then, too, He rewards those who serve Him and does so a hundred times over (Matthew 19:28, 29).

Oh how great is His goodness, too, in the realm of grace! It is all of His infinite grace that we are saved by Him and, after being saved, to have His care and concern all along our earthly journey. Everything we have in Him, and from Him, is all an outflow of His essential goodness.

The Beauty of the Lord

The world does not see that! To them with sin-blinded eyes “there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” So they say in Isaiah 53:2. But those whom He saved in the days of His flesh “beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). What other could you expect when you remember He is God, possessing all divine attributes of wisdom, holiness, power, and love, and all. In coming into our humanity, He took up a perfect human nature and thus was found without the defilement common to ours. As the God-Man He is the most wondrous Person in the universe. He is in Himself “altogether lovely.” He is the full expression of all that is in the character of God. It is strange, indeed, that the Jewish rulers worked up such hatred toward Him when their doctors of learning so admired Him while still a child (Luke 2:46, 47).

His life on earth was a lovely manifestation of everything essentially good. What love to the unlovely! With what compassion He viewed poor humanity and healed so much of it. In the Old Testament the sacrifices were to be unblemished males (Leviticus 1:3). That which spoke of Him, even in typal form, was to have the fullest vigor and beauty. Strength and perfection belonged to our Lord’s life on earth. Strong as God could be, He was here able to achieve the greatest victories and bear away the weightiest of burdens. His every aspect is one of infinite beauty and He was able to present Himself for sacrifice as a spotless life—a spotless soul. From the manger to the cross He was the perfection of every moral beauty.

Again, He is beautiful in His mediatorial office. In this He became a Surety for sinful men. What an astonishing love that would cause Him to leave heaven and the warm bosom of the Father’s love for such a world as ours and such sinful wretches as we are. And how lovely He was in His death upon the cross—never so beautiful in the display of the whole of His character as when He went forth on our behalf to die in our room and stead. Yet only the eye of faith can discern that beauty!

Finally, how beautiful He now is in His exaltation. He is seated in the place of highest honor and since He ascended in our human nature what an advancement it is to our human nature! Oh, away with all light and low thoughts of the Saviour! Away with all formal, irreverent, and careless attitudes in praying, hearing, or conversing about Him. Remember—“He is altogether lovely!”—How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty.”

O Lord, Thou King most wonderful,
With heavenly glories crowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable,
In whom all joys are found.

When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.

O Lord, Thou Light of all below,
Thou Fount of life and love,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
Or shall know when above.

Thee may our tongues forever bless!
Thee may we love alone! And ever in our lives express
The image of Thine own.

—Bernard of Clairvaux