JESUS: GOD IN HUMAN FLESH
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
AAnd the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.@
Our text complements verse one. He who transcends time entered time. He who was with God dwelt among us. He who was God became man.
Our text, one of the richest verses in the Bible, teaches us six facts regarding Jesus, the Word of God.
I. Jesus Became Flesh.
This is one of the strongest phrases in the New Testament. John could not emphasize his point more bluntly. God became man. The word Aflesh@ bespeaks human weakness, mortal and dying. Jesus did not merely Aappear@ to be a man. He was man.
Before his conversion, Augustine experimented with many of the world=s major religions. He said this text was the unique teaching of Christianity.
Other religions had taught that people could become gods (Pharaoh in Egypt, Caesar in Rome), but it was scandalous to think the reverse. Greeks believed the body was evil. Hebrews saw God as the Totally Other. Roman Stoics viewed the body as corrupt. Through the centuries, even some believers have denied the Incarnation in one way or another, refusing to acknowledge Christ=s full deity.
Problems arise in our thinking when we try to explain how the Incarnation happened rather than leaving it in the realm of faith. The Bible never attempts a detailed explanation. Even Paul could only say of Jesus, AHe emptied Himself@ (Philippians 2:7 NASB).
Neither Paul nor John tried to appeal to human intellect when dealing with the Incarnation. Their emphasis was angled to the heart.
Though we will never fully understand the Incarnation, we know by faith that God became like us to make us like Him. He who made all things became the one thing that failed Him, the only thing that needed help (Hebrews 2:14f).
AForasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.@
II. Jesus Dwelt Among Us.
Jesus could have become flesh and dwelt among angels. He drew nearest to that from which He was separated the farthest. The word Adwelt@ calls to mind three facts.
First, it is a word of continuance. Jesus stayed a while. He did not appear to one person on one occasion and then leave. He stayed long enough for us to get a good look at Him.
Second, it is a word of termination. Jesus= physical presence came to an end. Earth was not His home. Like the patriarchs, He knew He was a stranger and pilgrim on earth.
Unfortunately, we often forget this planet is not our home and fall deeply in love with the things of the world. If we remembered where Ahome@ is, we would hold stuff more loosely and die easier.
Third, the word should actually be translated Atabernacled.@ The divine presence, which was located in the tabernacle and later the temple, now came to Earth to dwell in Jesus. ATabernacled@ is probably John=s intended thought for the next thing he mentions was a vital part of the tabernacle.
III. Jesus= Glory Was Beheld.
In the Old Testament, the Glory refers to the manifest presence of God. It refers to God using a physical means to make His presence known.
In the wilderness He used a pillar of cloud by day, fire by night. When dedicated, the tabernacle and temple were filled with a cloud.
John is saying that God was visible in Jesus. ABeheld@ is always used in the New Testament for seeing with the bodily eye. You didn=t have to be super spiritual to see God=s glory in Jesus, just willing to look and see.
The more John watched, the more he knew Jesus was God=s glory in human form. The miracles showed a part of the glory of Christ, but something deeper than this caught John=s eye. True glory was seen not only in outward splendor, but in the loving way Jesus lived and suffered for people.
The more closely John watched Jesus, the more he saw of God. This is not true of most individuals. We all often hear or quote the old phrase, familiarity breeds contempt. Usually the more we learn of others, the more Ahuman@ they become. But the more we know of Jesus, the sweeter He becomes. We beheld His glory, and continue to revel in it.
IV. Jesus Is The Father=s Only Begotten.
Though all believers are called children of God, something is unique about the Sonship of Jesus. His relationship to God is absolutely without parallel. He is begotten, of the same essence with the Father. We are adopted.
V. Jesus Is Full Of Grace.
AGlory@ terrifies and Aonly begotten@ awes. Since these words alone might deter us from coming to Him, AGrace@ is added to soften the impression. Grace always has two basic ideas in it.
First, it always refers to something completely undeserved and unmerited. It always designates God loving just because He is love.
Second, it always has the idea of beauty in it. In modern Greek the word means Acharm.@ In Jesus we see the sheer winsomeness of God.
People think of God in terms of might, majesty, power, and judgment. These are valid assessments, but in Jesus we are also confronted with sheer loveliness.
Many who reject Christianity are not as much saying no to God as they are expressing their repulsion at our method of presenting God. When the world can see God as He really is, charming and winsome, many respond positively. Jesus said, AAnd I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me@ (John 12:32).
The Lord=s death shows Him as the One altogether kind and beautiful. Let=s make the discovery ourselves, rejoice in it, and tell the world.
VI. Jesus Is Full Of Truth.
Lest we over-sentimentalize grace, truth is added to jerk us back to reality. Truth means genuine, the real thing.
The tabernacle of old was full of types, images, shadows, symbols, pictures. But in Christ there is no shadow. He is total substance. He is the Rock, the Dependable One, who will never fail us.
Grace and truth are the two things we need most from God. We need a lovely friend in heaven who not only wants to help the helpless, but who can help the helpless.
Jesus is total love and total dependability. Anything or anyone else that claims to bring true happiness and the best life possible is counterfeit.