But we see . . . Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. Hebrews 2:9
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and might and honor and glory and blessing! Revelation 5:12
The night before he died, knowing what was coming, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). And so it came to pass: He was “crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9). His glory was the reward of his suffering. He was “obedient to the point of death. . . . Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:8-9). Precisely because he was slain, the Lamb is “worthy . . . to receive . . . honor and glory” (Revelation 5:12). The passion of Jesus Christ did not merely precede the crown; it was the price, and the crown was the prize. He died to have it.
Many people stumble at this point. They say, “How can this be loving? How can Jesus be motivated to give us joy if he is motivated to get his glory? Since when is vanity a virtue?” That is a good question, and it has a wonderful biblical answer.
The answer lies in learning what great love really is. Most of us have grown up thinking that being loved means being made much of. Our whole world seems to be built on this assumption. If I love you, I make much of you. I help you feel good about your- self. It is as though a sight of the self is the secret of joy.
But we know better. Even before we come to the Bible, we know this is not so. Our happiest moments have not been self- saturated moments, but self-forgetful moments. There have been times when we stood beside the Grand Canyon, or at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, or viewed a stunning sunset over the Sahara, and for a fleeting moment felt the joy of sheer wonder. This is what we were made for. Paradise will not be a hall of mirrors. It will be a display of majesty. And it won’t be ours.
If this is true, and if Christ is the most majestic reality in the universe, then what must his love to us be? Surely not making much of us. That would not satisfy our souls. We were made for something much greater. If we are to be as happy as we can be, we must see and savor the most glorious person of all, Jesus Christ himself. This means that to love us, Jesus must seek the fullness of his glory and offer it to us for our enjoyment. That is why he prayed, the night before he died, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24). That was love. “I will show them my glory.” When Jesus died to regain the fullness of his glory, he died for our joy. Love is the labor—whatever the cost—of helping people be enthralled with what will satisfy them most, namely, Jesus Christ. That is how Jesus loves.
*This is taken from John Piper’s book “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” which was later released under the name “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die.” Please visit Desiring God’s Website for more gospel-centered resources from John Piper. You can also download a free PDF of “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die” here.