Before Jesus Christ came, the glory of a person was seen in the humiliation of those they overcame; it was seen in the plunder and the booty; it was seen in the kings and queens and princesses submitted to slavery after the conquest of their kingdoms. Their glory consisted in the acclamation and applauds they received. The women sang of David: “Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7).
Those that Jehovah loved, he enriched and glorified: “Jehovah’s blessing brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it” (Prov. 10:22). King David sang: “Yours, Jehovah, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty! For all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, Jehovah, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all; and in your hand is power and might; and it is in your hand to make great, and to give strength to all” (1 Chr. 29:11-12). Jehovah magnified David. He declared by the mouth of Nathan, the prophet: “This is what Jehovah, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that would have been too little, I would have added to you many more such things” (2 Sam. 12:7-8). Eliphaz, accusing the righteous Job, said: “If you return to the Almighty, you shall be built up, if you put away unrighteousness far from your tents. Lay your treasure in the dust, the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks. The Almighty will be your treasure, and precious silver to you. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and shall lift up your face to God. You shall make your prayer to him, and he will hear you” (Job 22:23-27).
Jesus came down to this world sent by the Father, and established a new concept of wealth and of glory. Concerning this world, Jesus said: “The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil” (John7:7). And said more: “The world can’t hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil” (John 8:12). Jesus is saying that this world is vile, and without any light at all. In order to exit this darkness man need to follow him. The apostle John declares that God, the Father, sent his Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world could be saved by him (John 3:17). And he continues: “He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already” (John 3:18). John also says that this world is in the evil one (1 John 5:19). This means that, if this world is under the power of the evil Satan, he bestows the glory of this world, and its riches come from him. Let us look at another idea of glory and wealth established by Jesus:
1. In this dark world, where ninety per cent is formed of poor people, to have one or more palaces and butlers and servants means to have glory. Jesus did not adopt this system when he was in this world. He was rather born in a manger around the animals. This method that Jesus used had such impact on humankind that the glory of the manger and humility shines ever more (Luke 2:1-7).
2. Jesus grew and became a man, and has not changed, for he is the same yesterday and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). When a scribe, impressed, said: “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus said to him, 1The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Matt. 8:19-20). The glory of Jesus was to have no pillow, for if he had, he would certainly rest because of his hunger and fatigue, and while he slept, Satan would devour a few souls. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, for men seek another kind of glory (Matt. 9:37).
3. James and John had their eyes on the glory of this world, and asked Jesus: “Grant to us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory. But Jesus said to them, ‘You don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’” (Mark 10:37-38). And he taught them, saying: “You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all. For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45). The glory of Jesus was to serve and not to be served, and this glory is the only glory that God, the Father, sees.
4. The princes of this world, the armies, the great businessmen, all dress up in pompous clothes. Jesus so endeavored to be identified with the destitute, that Isaiah says: “Like as many were astonished at you (his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Is. 52:14). Jesus did this, and this was his glory: to come into close relationship with these human rags and to save them. Once when he came to a Samaritan village they did not allow him to enter it because he looked like a wanderer. Jesus valued what is inside of people, regardless of their social standing, whereas men value the outer appearance too much. A beautiful appearance hides poisonous vipers (Matt. 23:2,33).
5. Jesus’ idea of wealth differs from ours. To Jesus wealth is charity. A young man, rich in gold and possessions, approached Jesus and asked: “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus said to him: “if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments … ‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal’”, etc. The young man said: “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus showed him that the law does not produce love, saying: “One thing you still lack” (Luke 18:22). And said to him: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matt. 19:16-21).
To love the poor and to share material goods with them is great wealth. But to love my neighbor better than myself and to give my life for him is greater than riches (1 John 3:16). To love my neighbor as myself is to share my goods; and this is charity. To love my neighbor more than myself, and to die in the guilty person’s place cannot be defined in words, but reveals the glory of Christ in the Christian (1 John 3:16-17).
Paul said: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). The wealth of Christ is his virtues: love, mercy, humbleness, gentleness, obedience, justice, spirit of renunciation, etc. The poverty of Jesus was to leave his glory, power, strength, and immortality—that is, Jesus became weak (2 Cor. 13:4). He became so poor that we, being poor and miserable, might become rich; that is, come to the spiritual stature of Jesus.
Men value their science and knowledge, and their material wealth a great deal. Nevertheless John wrote in Revelations: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see” (Rev. 3:17-18).
By Pr. Olavo Silveira Pereira