This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. “Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” – John 12:27-28
Most Christians would say they want to glorify God. But what does that really mean, and how do we do it? To glorify God literally means to magnify Him. To magnify Him doesn’t mean that we make Him bigger in an absolute sense. God is already infinite, and you can’t get any bigger than that. We can’t really add to God’s immeasurable glory.
To glorify or magnify God actually means to make Him bigger and greater in the eyes of others. It’s like driving on a road toward a mountain. In the distance, the mountain may look small. But as we draw nearer, the true size of the mountain becomes more evident. The actual size of the mountain has not changed, our view of it has changed as our proximity to it has changed.
I believe there is more to glorifying God than singing praise songs. I believe God is glorified most when others see Him do things that can only be explained in terms of God, things for which no man can take credit. God is glorified when we see compelling visible evidence of His mighty invisible hand moving in us, through us and around us. The only problem with this is that, in order to glorify God in this manner, we must be willing to follow Him into challenging situations that are way beyond our ability to control . . . situations in which only He can do what needs to be done to see us through.
The passage above takes place after Jesus (Whom John the Baptist called the Lamb of God – John 1:29), entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and to meet His own death as foretold by the prophets (i.e. – Isa 53:7). Speaking of the excruciating death, the cross, that awaited Him, Jesus said, “for this purpose, I came to this hour.” Jesus was willing to follow the Father into a situation that He, the eternal God-man, had never experienced.
Jesus then asked the Father to use this to glorify His name. The Father replied audibly from heaven, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” When the Father said He had already glorified it, He was speaking of the incarnation, ministry, obedience, and miracles of Jesus. When he said that He would glorify it again, He was speaking of how He would support Jesus by carrying Him through His sufferings and death, and by raising Him from the dead and setting Him at his own right hand.
I believe that when God puts a mountain in our path, one that cannot be circumnavigated, it is almost always for one of two reasons. One, it may be to glorify Himself by moving the mountain. Or two, it may be to glorify Himself by giving us the divine resource we need to climb the mountain. If the mountain is big enough, then either situation requires something only God can do, and when He does it people see the visible evidence of His invisible hand working in us, through us, and around us.
When God does something that defies all probability, when he inexplicably overrides and reverses natural law, that is when God is glorified. When we have unshakable peace in the midst of the tornado, or the power to press on when everything about our situation appears hopeless, that is when God is made known and magnified.
In my forty years with Mars Hill, I have experienced both “mountain moving” and “mountain climbing” numerous times. Some of these faith adventures came after following Him down a path I knew might lead to a difficult place. Others were unanticipated. Either way, the path led to a place where I found myself at the end of my limited human resource. But when God did what only God could do, I watched my God make Himself known, and I saw how it challenged and encouraged others in their faith walk.
The Bible is full of amazing mountain moving and mountain climbing stories. Moses followed God to the brink of an impassable sea, and God parted it. David followed God into a death match with an undefeated giant, and David prevailed. Paul followed Jesus down a path that led to great unanticipated suffering, and his writings about the sufficiency of Christ in every circumstance (Phil.4:12-13) have given strength to Christians throughout the ages. Jesus followed His Father to the cross where He paid for the sins of the world, and on the third day, was raised from the dead, conquering Satan and death!
Most Christians would say they want to glorify God. But, who is willing to go to that place where the glory of God is revealed to the watching world? What about you? Are you playing it safe? Or are you ready to follow God to a place where you are beyond your own human resource… where you may even be in over your head such that if He doesn’t come through, you are sunk? When God shows up in that place and does what only He can do, then He will be magnified for all who are watching. He will be glorified! And you will be blessed.