Stages of Glory
In the northeast section of the United States there is a six to eight week period of time where the trees put on a glorious display. Colors change from week to week. Some trees lose their leaves a few at a time while others shed their beauty all at one time. Such is the case for an October Glory Red Maple on the front island of my boss's home. When I came to work last week I was so taken by the carpet of red underneath the Large Maple. Almost every leaf had fallen, and the ground was covered in a sea of red. As I looked at the tree throughout the day, God began to use the display to make an analogy with the life of Jesus Christ.
From the moment He was born He carried the glory of Father God. The angels and the stars in the heavens declared the glory of the baby boy. The Magi, when they saw Jesus, "bowed down and worshiped Him." (Matthew 2:11) When He was 12 years old Jesus was taken to the Passover Feast by His parents. He went to the Temple courts where He amazed everyone who heard Him because of His great understanding. (Luke 2:47)
After spending 40 days in the wilderness and being tempted by the devil, He "returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit." On the Sabbath He went to the synagogue where He had been raised and read the scroll of Isaiah 61 where he declared the truth that the "Spirit of the Lord is on me." (Luke 4:18) Throughout the life of Jesus the glory of the LORD was revealed through healings, miraculous events and raising of the dead to life. People in His day were drawn to Him because He carried the glory of God.
At the end of His life, Jesus revealed the glory of God in His death. He gave everything He had to His Father, and His blood was spilled on the ground beneath Him. The centurion watching the crucifixion declared, "Surely this was a righteous man." (Luke 23:47) Like the red leaves that fell from the Maple tree, the blood of Jesus made a carpet of red. His breath was removed, and He was taken away to be buried. After three days, the Son of Man rose again and fresh glory surrounded Him. Likewise, the Maple tree will bloom again with small red flowers followed by new leaves that will repeat the cycle of glory.
As I contemplated the events of the life of Jesus, the Lord brought to my mind a song written by Chris Tomlin called "At the Cross" -
"There's a place where mercy reigns and never dies.
There's a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
All the love, I've ever found, comes like a flood, comes flowing down.
At the Cross, at the Cross, I surrender my life. I'm in awe of You; I'm in awe of You.
Where Your love ran red, and my sins washed white; I owe all to You; I owe all to You. Jesus."
Our Savior gave it all for us! He had nothing else to give. He accomplished what Father God gave Him to do--living a life of glory, releasing stages of beauty as He reflected the glory of heaven. He was hung on a tree that had also given its life to be used in an act of unthinkable horror, but the glory never left Jesus. It was there, on full display, for all to see. The glory of the Lord lives forever and just as the Scripture tells us "God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
Joan E. Mathias