Where did humanity go wrong? Why have people done so much harm to one another throughout history? The apostle Paul gives us some insight into this, in Romans 1:21. Looking back at our ancestors, he says, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God…”
This is a mistake that Jesus did not make. He did glorified God, and He did it right.
Jesus glorified God as God. That is, He glorified Him accurately, not as He thought God should be but as He truly is. And since Jesus did everything perfectly, He surely did this perfectly as well.
Yet even while Jesus was doing this, nobody else understood. Not even His own disciples fully realized what He was doing. That’s because nobody else understood how God is most glorified.
Jesus was not the first person to give glory to God. For example, Paul describes in Romans 4:20 how Abraham “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
But Abraham did not do this consistently, for every moment of his life. He could have given more glory to God in his lifetime than he did. This is how Jesus was different. He always gave God all the glory that He deserves.
This would be remarkable even if God simply deserved a lot of glory. But as it is, He is worthy of infinite glory. If we do all that we know to do, we can never glorify Him enough. When we want to glorify Him as He deserves (to glorify God as God) we run up against our human limitations. We cannot find the words to describe His glory; no actions are enough to express it.
Paul calls this frustration a kind of groaning, wanting to be further clothed (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). Charles Wesley gave voice to this groaning in a hymn: “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and king, the triumphs of His grace.” He understood how hard it is to adequately express God’s glory. God cannot be glorified as He fully deserves even from someone with a thousand tongues.
But Jesus did it with one tongue. Because of the purity of His heart He was able to offer perfect praise to God. In everything He did and said He glorified God fully and completely. And since Jesus glorified God perfectly, giving Him all the glory that He deserves, He glorified Him infinitely.
It is fair to wonder, then, if this is even possible. Can a finite man, living within all the normal limitations of humanity, fully glorify God?
Jesus did it. So whatever it means to give God glory, however we define it, Jesus did it perfectly throughout His life. You will never find a little bit of glory anywhere that Jesus could have given to God but didn’t. God has been fully glorified on this earth in a human life. Jesus glorified God on earth as He is glorified in heaven.
Theologians have always sought to understand how Jesus could be fully God and fully man at the same time. Different understandings on this point have led to many divisions in the church.
When the churches of the 16th century Reformation tried to unite, this issue was one of the largest stumbling blocks. In the ensuing debate, some theologians used a simple slogan, saying, in Latin, “Finitum non capax infiniti,” that is, “The finite cannot contain the infinite.” Therefore, they said, God was outside of the man Jesus at the same time as he was Jesus.
It is certainly logical to say that the finite cannot contain the infinite. But when we look at the humanity of Jesus to see His divinity, we are not looking for a God contained. Jesus’s purpose was not to contain God for us but to give Him to us. So the question that concerns us here is not whether the finite can contain the infinite but whether the finite can give away the infinite.
And the answer must be yes, because that’s precisely what Jesus did. Living under all the natural limitations of humanity, He gave us the unlimited God. He gave us all of God. And by doing so, He glorified God.
God given is God glorified. This is not what anyone expected. It still sounds strange to our ears. But when we look at Jesus—who He was and what He did—we learn this about the glory of God: God has no greater glory than to be freely and generously given to sinners through the life and death of the man Jesus Christ.
Jesus glorified God perfectly all His life because He lived His life to give God to us.