How do you paint a picture of the invisible? How do you describe the indescribable? Those are not idle questions. They are with us all the time as we talk about God. There is a negative way of going about it – saying what God is not: “Not like this. Not like that.” But the more positive approach is to use metaphors or mental images that in some way represent what it is that we are talking about. For example, how to talk about the glory, majesty, wonder of God. Just as God is unique, so the glory of God is like no other glory or fame. The Bible handles this by using images of light and colour: brilliant or blinding light, gemstones, rainbow, flashes of lightning with peals of thunder. In the story called the Transfiguration of Jesus the glory of God is represented by the dazzling white of his garments. But then the same passage uses another image to represent the presence of God and that is one of mystery, a cloud. The mists on a mountain always bring with them an air of mystery. Light so intense that we cannot bear to look at it, cloud so mysterious that we cannot see through it; these are ways of talking about the overwhelming presence of God. However, that same Transfiguration story announces that it is through a particular human being that the glory and presence of God was made known. God was reflected in Jesus as the parent is reflected in the child. He is acknowledged as the Son of God, the one to be listened to. If you want to know what God is saying, listen to Jesus. If you want to know what God is like look at Jesus. If you want to know what the glory of God is like take notice of Jesus. As John’s Gospel puts it, “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth”.
- Give examples of how the word glory is used in everyday language.
- What makes dazzling light a suitable image for representing the glory of God?
- What does Jesus reveal about God?
- What does it mean to call Jesus the Son of God?