Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. (Psalm 29:1-2)
In Psalm 29, David exhorts his soul and his people to ascribe to the Lord the glory that is clearly due His name. He reminds himself and others of the beauty, the grandeur, the power, the wisdom, and the holiness of God Almighty. His words of adoration are a fitting offering of praise to the Lord and yet, as we see throughout the Psalms of David, and indeed all of scripture, a rightful view and worship of God is as critical for our joy as it is purely for God’s praise.
Jesus himself taught this lesson to His disciples. In chapters 1-8 of the Gospel of Mark we watch as Jesus begins his public ministry by declaring through word and deed the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God. His power in speech and through miracles proclaims that He is indeed an ascending King. This march toward his rightful place as Lord over all seemingly culminates in Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the long awaited savior in chapter 8 verse 29. The disciples have walked mile after mile with Jesus, witnessing first hand the power of His teaching, the miracles performed by His hands, and the growing crowd following Him. And yet, after Peter’s rightful public declaration of Jesus as the long awaited savior, Jesus declares not an affirmation of his ascension toward a castle but rather a rebuke detailing his descent toward a cross. Not only does Jesus describe His journey toward sacrifice and death, but He also prescribes the daily bearing of the disciples’ (and our) own crosses. What had once seemed like a hope filled coronation, for Peter and the rest of the disciples, the future must have suddenly looked much more bleak, much more confusing, and much more uncertain. It appeared that the disciples had finally figured out who it was they were following and where multi year journey was leading them. And then in a short and yet plainly laid out explanation, Jesus tells them that they’ve gotten it all wrong. I can only imagine the way that the hearts of the disciples must have sank. It must have only been a few seconds from the Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as the Christ and all of the celebration that came with it, to the silence that must have lingered after Jesus described that the way to His kingdom and true life was by denying and losing our current lives.
Several years ago, my wife Rachael and I marched confidently forward with God into the unknown world for us of international adoption. We had two little kids at the time (3 and 1) and cautiously but confidently we followed God in pursuing the adoption of an older child in an orphanage half way around the world. We nervously followed God and reminded each other step by step of His goodness and faithfulness all the while waiting to see how things would end up. A year and a half into the process, our savings completely drained, and thousands of tears later, Rachael and I sat on our couch at home with our two kids and admitted that the adoption had completely fallen apart and the girl we had called our daughter would not be coming home. We were devastated. My reaction at that moment felt a lot like what I imagine the disciples felt: confusion, as if the path they thought they were walking was suddenly revealed to be something else, fear of where that path would lead next, and a counting up of what the journey had already cost and what it would cost in the future.
In that moment what I longed for most was an explanation of why it needed to be this way and a reassurance that things would work out (as I determined working out for my good meant.) But God, in His wisdom and grace, did something with me and something with the disciples in the Gospel of Mark that mere words of explanation or even words of assurance could never do. God showed me and Rachael and he showed the disciples His glory.
Six days after Jesus corrected Peter’s view of what salvation would entail, He lead him and James and John up a mountain where he was transfigured/altered/changed/transformed before their very eyes. Jesus, His face, His whole body, and even the very clothes He wore shone brighter than anything the disciples had ever seen. It was as if in that moment His very essence as fully God, Lord of all, the Word by which all things were made, came bursting forth from behind the veil of flesh that had covered it since he came to earth in the form of a baby. The disciples, shocked and scared, stood in awe of the reality of whom it was they had been following. Moses and Elijah were there as well, testifying to the culmination of their work in the person and work of Jesus. The Father spoke as well, reminding the disciples that this Jesus was no mere man, but His very son, His beloved one. Peter, James, and John may not have any better understood why Jesus had to die or why they were called to follow as well, but what they did understand was the one they followed, the one they trusted, the one they needed was greater, grander, and better than they. The answer to the confusion and concern of the disciples about following Jesus to their death (spiritually and for them physically) was not a greater clarity and understanding of their present and coming circumstances but instead a great clarity and understanding of their eternal savior.
We don’t get to see the revealed glory of Jesus with our own two eyes while we follow Christ by faith, but we are given truth after truth of exactly who He is, we sing songs to remind us that His glory will be revealed to us again soon when he returns to earth, and we see His creation that testifies to His true glory. The mercies that are new each and every morning are not simply reminders of the forgiveness of our sins, but also the truth that our savior, our advocate, the one who is currently interceding on our behalf at the right hand of God the Father, was not just a wonderful teacher, wise Rabi, or loving servant, but glorious God the Son.
Perhaps today in the midst of struggle, confusion, disappointment, or storms you need to ascribe to the Lord the glory that is truly due His wondrous name. Not just because the praise is rightly due His glorious grace, but also because we desperately need to be reminded of His Glory.