John 5:44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?
Human ambition was an important feature in the lives of the religious leaders. They loved receiving praise from one another for the things which they were doing. Would Jesus have been the "right" kind of Messiah they would have gladly accepted praise and glory from him, but he was not what they wanted. Just imagine applying the Sermon on the Mount to these kinds of religious leaders. The humble Messiah was not what they wanted. They were used to the power and the glory which came with their positions and Jesus offered none of that! Jesus knew that their personal pride was precluding them from putting their faith and trust in him. How could they believe? He knew that they could not believe in him because they were too consumed with seeking one another's approval. What was most important to them was being accepted and praised and promoted by the people of the religious world in which they worked, lived and functioned. Jesus knew that salvation would only come when they could put all of that aside and seek only the glory which comes from God. This passage was a foreshadowing of the teaching message of Jesus Christ, one which required self-denial, taking up one's cross and following a humble Savior, Jesus Christ.
I think that we would like to believe that we are immune from the symptoms which seemed to engulf the religious leaders of Jesus' day. However, if we were to examine ourselves, we just might discover that we are far too similar. How often do we look to the people around us to seek approval and affirmation for a job well done? And the problem with this is that there will never be enough affirmation. There will always be tomorrow and the next day and the next, and there will be no satisfaction because there will never be enough praise to make us happy.
The scripture today isn't necessarily about praise or glory, but about contentment and satisfaction. Jesus provides us the very opposite of what the world can offer. Whereas when we seek the glory which comes from the world we can never be satisfied, with Jesus, he is the satisfaction. The glory which comes from God is a sustainable glory, not one which subsides with each action or inaction. Today's scripture is really an invitation to believe in Jesus, and to relax in the glory which comes from God. This is a sustainable glory because it is borne out of an intimate relationship with the Creator of all things. This relationship is deeply satisfying and nurturing.
Jesus is placing a choice before the religious leaders. You may either choose the glory of the world, or you may choose the glory which comes from God. The reality is that if we go the direction of the world, while we may look religious on the outside, we lose the personal relationship with Christ on the inside. The choice for Christ involves humility and satisfaction in the glory which comes from God alone. Our eyes are taken off the things of this world, and are placed on the object of our love, Jesus! As we stare deeply into his eyes, we are drawn in by his love and the glory of God pours out from him and he sustains us in a way which we could never have imagined. Let us turn from the exhaustible glory of this world to the eternal glory found in following the Messiah who came for us.
Lord, this day and every day may I seek your glory, and yours alone. Amen.