Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42-43)
Isn’t that such a sad statement. The verse in context is speaking of Jesus and the wonderful things He had been doing. He had performed signs and wonders in the presence of the Jewish rulers, yet many did not believe. Others believed, yet did not confess it because they coveted man’s glory more than God’s.
It’s interesting about the word glory here. Strong’s Concordance says of the word glory/doksa,
dóksa (from dokeō, “exercising personal opinion which determines value”) – glory. 1391 /dóksa (“glory”) corresponds to the OT word, kabo (OT 3519, “to be heavy”). Both terms convey God’s infinite, intrinsic worth (substance, essence).
I like to ponder the part about the intrinsic worth. Man’s glory is applied. It’s external. Some leader has gotten famous or has the regard of fellows. We apply this glory, or respect/regard, to him based on externals. It’s an extrinsic opinion endowed TO a person. Therefore it’s temporary. Glory from men is a tenuous and temporary thing. One day you’re in, the next day you’re out. Anything at any time could interrupt or destroy man-given glory.
The glory of God is intrinsic. It’s inside Him, it’s part of who He is. It IS Him. Therefore it’s eternal. He has glory and always will have glory. It shines from the inside out, He shows it (Exodus 33:23) or He hides it, as Jesus did in the Incarnation. The Transfiguration is a stunning moment when the glory inside Jesus shone from inside Him outward. “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” (Luke 9:29) Mark adds the detail that his clothes became “radiantly white, brighter than any launderer on earth could bleach them”. (Mark 9:3)
Such glory is part of God. It’s beautiful and weighty and white, and bright and it’s part of Him.
The Jewish men traded temporary, polluted glory that won’t last for the glory of God in heaven and His eternal perfect surpassing intrinsic worth. It is the gift of God that we know Jesus and will see Him face to face someday in glory. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.