7: Word Alive (John 1:14)
7: Word Alive
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
We have just learned that we can become the very children of God. Not just adopted as we understand the term, but children “ex theos”, of God. How does that wonderful miracle happen? The Holy Spirit through John tells us in the very next verse. Us becoming children of God is an incredible wonder, but not as wonderful as what makes that transformation possible. We can become children of God, because God became one of us.
John returns to the Logos, the Word and stretches the Greek thinking minds even further. We have already discovered that the Logos has always been God. He is not some being in between God and His creation. He is God and always has been with God and has always been God. Now we discover that He has also become man.
“And the Word (logos) became flesh (sarx)”
The Word didn’t “inhabit” flesh. He didn’t just come into a physical body. He became flesh. Through the wonderful mystery of the incarnation, God the Son became man.
He had formed man out of the dust. Muscle and sinew, veins and arteries, organs and bones, skin and hair. Immune system, blood system, nerve system, digestive system, breathing system, communications system all run by a brain processor more naturally complex and powerful than any man made equivalent. Brilliant and beautiful.
Unfortunately a brilliance and beauty that quickly falls into mismanagement, misuse, decay and ultimately death as a result of sin. All who come after are trapped to the same fate. All born with the same potential but heading for the same end. And after death, the judgement.
But God has a plan. He always does. And He sends His Word, His Logos, His One and Only who enters into the womb of a virgin and becomes what He has made.
He became what He has made firstly so that He might live with us, “dwell among us”.
The mystery of God’s desire, complete in Himself and yet motivated by a passion to include others in His community. Right from the beginning, He has shown a remarkable will to make relationship happen by coming to where we are. Whether it is coming to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the evening, coming to personally talk to Abraham and Sarah or setting up camp in the middle of His people who are newly free from oppression in Egypt, He has demonstrated His heart to take initiative in relationship again and again. This despite the fact that His overtures of love are rejected almost as often. Even though there are individual examples of people who welcome and walk in this miraculous and incredible opportunity, inevitably even then future generations walk away. Not just walk away, but from the beginning people not only have been rejecting the love of God but rebelling against it any way they can, throwing it back in the face of their creator who loves them more than they will ever imagine. They don’t just refuse to respond to Him but they go away in the opposite direction and build up fortress walls of rebellion and self centered pride to keep God out.
Again He is complete in Himself. He does not need these people’s love and affection. But He does desire relationship with them and He has a plan to fully reveal who He really is through them. He can’t reveal who He really is unless there are ungrateful, selfish, arrogant persons who can become objects of His unfailing love and tender mercy.
Mercy has no meaning if there are not sinners to be merciful to. And unfailing love can only be truly revealed if the objects of that love are utterly unfaithful in their response to it.
And so we begin to see the magnificent glory of God’s unfailing love and mercy. The people whom He has created have built their strongholds against Him, even though He has never given them any reason to reject Him. All God has done is create us and set His love upon us. Apparently that’s not good enough for us. So now we reject Him and build our walls tall and strong to keep Him out.
So what does He do? How would you as God respond?
God is going to reveal to us the full glory of who He is. So He disguises Himself. He becomes one of those He has created. John uses the same word in the Greek that he has used in the previous phrase. Those who receive and believe in the Logos are given the right to become (“ginomai”) the children of God. They don’t just look like children of God they really become the children of God. And how? That is possible because God made the journey first, in the opposite direction. The Logos became (“ginomai”) human, flesh and blood. And He comes to live with us, eat with us, laugh and cry with us, serve and die for us. On our side of the wall. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
He lives with us so that we might see His glory.
The word dwell (Greek “skenoo”) literally means to set up tent with, to tabernacle with. As many commentators have pointed out, the Hebrew reader would think back to the wilderness journey of the Israelites and how God had given Moses a design for a tent, a tabernacle. God came to live in that tabernacle, right in the middle of all the people who were tabernacled around it, so that they could see the glory of God in their midst. David put up a tent for the Ark of the presence of God in Jerusalem so that not just the Israelites but all nations should see His glory.
Now He comes again to be among people. But instead of pitching up as fire in a tent, he becomes a man and moves right into their living rooms. Now the glory is not in flames and smoke and cloud but in flesh and blood. The eternal glory of God become man.
And they saw His glory. That word is “theaomai” which means to look closely at, to examine.
The Old Testament saints could not look into His glory. They could not even look at Moses who was only reflecting that glory, he had to put a veil over his face so that the people were’t blinded. But now we have the glory of God become a man and we can look deeply into that glory for the first time. “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see” as Charles Wesley wrote.
John unveils for us the glory of God that he saw in Jesus throughout the rest of this gospel. For instance, he wraps up his account of the first miracle, turning water into wine this way: “so He revealed His glory”. As a result “his disciples believed in him.” (John 2: 11)
“Believed in” who? John has introduced Him as the Logos who is life and light in the first few verses. The One who was one with God from the beginning. Now He is revealed by John as the “only Begotten of the Father”.
So God is a Father then, that makes sense given that He has brought us to birth and we can become His children. God is a Father and He has a Son (by implication though, the word is not in the Greek) who is equally God. This One and Only has a particularly unique glory. “The glory as of the One and Only of the Father”. It is the glory of an only Son and heir of the Father God of all creation.
If a father has many children then you can see different traits of who he is as a father in the different children. One might have his eyes, another his personality, another some of his gifts. Who he is as a person is distributed between all his children.
God the Father only has One, says John.
He is not meaning that no one else can be His child. We have already discovered that we can become part of His family as His children. But his One and Only is totally unique as a Son, not just because He has been with the Father from the beginning but because He bears all of the same traits of His Father.
The Father’s traits, His glories, are not evenly distributed between many children. They are all absolutely and uniquely present in His One and Only, who is of the exact same essence of Godhead as His Father. That is clear in the Greek word John uses: “monogenes”. All of the genes of the Father in One person.
The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV).
We have seen the glory of the One and Only, says John. And when we saw the glory of the One and Only, we saw the glory of the Father.
What did that glory look like? What was the glory of the One and Only? What then is the glory of the Father?
John puts it beautifully simply. It is “full of grace and truth”.
John’s previous paragraph (verse 9-13) was about Jesus coming as light to “everyone” (all of us) and then to “His own” (meaning the Jews, the chosen people). He is telling us the big picture story of Jesus’ entrance into the world.
Now, for the first time, it gets personal to John. The Word (Logos) became flesh (sarx) and lived with “us”. This is not a universal “us”. It is the Greek word “ego”, the word used for I and me. This is the “us” that have “seen His glory”.
It is personal and yet it is written beautifully so that it is not exclusive. John and the other disciples and close followers of Jesus certainly experienced Him in a unique way. The One and Only of the Father literally came and lived among them and they saw His glory like no one else. However, the reader is not left feeling that this is some club that they can never be members of. No, He also came to live among all of us. We can all see His glory and we can all receive from Him grace upon grace.
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1: 16)
Yet this passage is a deeply personal reflection. Because of the use of the word “ego” you could almost read it as “the Logos became flesh and came and lived with me and I have seen His glory.” Yet the context is plainly more than just John. Verse 16 could read that “from His fulness every “ego” (I, me) has received grace upon grace.”
What is my point? My point is this. Jesus came for everyone. But He came for everyone personally. He came for every “ego”, for every I and for every me. He came for John, for Simon Peter, for Nathanael for Nicodemus, the women at the well, the blind beggar etc. John’s gospel is full of personal encounters with Jesus. It is not primarily a gospel of teaching and ministering to large crowds. It is Jesus, the Logos, in the flesh, coming to live with every “me” and showing every “me” His glory. As a result every “me” can receive grace upon grace.
The Word became flesh and came to live with you, on your side of the wall, so that you personally may see His glory, you personally may know who He is (the One and Only exact imprint of the Father full of grace and truth) and you personally may receive from Him grace upon grace. That is simply amazing and totally life changing if we get it.Posted on: March 1, 2018Peter Todd