Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
The Gospel of John is for many their favorite Bible book. It contains the Bibles most famous verse, my favorite, John 316. Johns Gospel is said to be shallow enough for a child to wade in, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in. The latter fact reminds us John wrote Revelation, another book with deep content.
The biographers who wrote of Jesus had to confront a challenging question. When talking of Jesus, where do we start Matthew began with Abraham, Mark with the preaching of John the Baptist, Luke with the birth of John the Baptist. John the Beloved began in the bosom of the Father. John went before time and talked about the everlasting relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
John 11 (Holman) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
God the Son is God the Father speaking. When God speaks, things happen. His spoken will, once verbalized, always occurs. At creation God said, let there be light, let dry land appear, etc. At least 10 times God said each time, it occurred.
In Jesus, God the Father spoke in a new, unique way, with ultimate authority. Instead of vibrating elements with His breath, as He did at Creation, His power combined elements to form Jesus. God has Son-spoken (Hebrews 12).
John 114a The Word became flesh. . .
This text, John 114, is one of the richest and most strongly stated verses in the Bible. It teaches us six remarkable facts regarding Jesus, the Word of God.
One, God the Son became flesh. Flesh bespeaks weak creatures who are mortal and dying. John could not have emphasized his point more bluntly. Jesus did not merely appear to be a man. He was a real human being. Spirit became skin. God became human. The Ancient of Days became an infant.
Augustine, before his conversion, explored and studied the worlds major religions. He said this phrase, The Word became flesh, was the unique teaching of Christianity. Other religions said people could become gods for instance, Pharaoh in Egypt, and Caesar in Rome. But it was scandalous to think the reverse. Greeks and Roman Stoics believed the body was too evil for deity to indwell. Hebrews saw God as the Totally Other. Even some believers have denied the Incarnation in one way or another, refusing to acknowledge Christs full deity.
Problems often rise in our thinking when we try to explain how the Incarnation happenedfor instance, how a zygote was formed, how the Holy Spirit intermingled with Marys DNArather than leaving it in the realm of faith.
The Bible writers never attempted a detailed explanation, or tried to appeal to human intellect when dealing with the Incarnation. Their emphasis was angled to the heart. We will never fully understand the Incarnation, but 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 214-15).
John 114b . . .and took up residence among us.
Two, Jesus took up residence among us. He who transcends time entered time. He who was with God chose to be with us. Jesus could have become flesh and lived among angels. He drew nearest to what He was farthest separated from.
Though we were not the best or most enjoyable company, Jesus chose to stay a while with us. He did not appear to a few people on a few occasions and then leave. He stayed long enough for many of us to get a good look at Him. At least 500 saw Him after He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 156).
John 114c We observed His glory. . .
Three, we observed Jesus glory. Glory refers to Gods manifest presence, to God using a physical means to make His presence obviously known. He used a pillar of cloud by day, fire by night, to let Israel know He was with them in the Wilderness. The Tabernacle and Temple, when dedicated, were filled with a cloud.
In our text, John was saying God was visible, obviously present, in Jesus. People didnt have to be super spiritual to see Gods glory in Jesus they only had to be willing to look and see. The more John and the other disciples watched Jesus, the more they knew He was Gods glory in human form. The miracles showed a part of the glory of Christ, but something deeper than this caught Johns eye. True glory was seen in the loving way Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for people. We too have observed His glory, and continue to revel in it more and more.
The longer and more closely John watched Jesus, the more the Apostle saw of God. This is not true of most of us. We all know the old phrase, familiarity breeds contempt. Usually the more we learn of others, the more human they become. But the more we know of Jesus, the more like God He becomes.
John 114d . . . the glory as of the One and Only Son from the Father,. . .
Four, Jesus is the One and Only Son from the Father. All believers are adopted children of God. The Sonship of Jesus is unique. His relationship to God the Father is without parallel. He is begotten, of the same essence with the Father not a lesser God, a secondary God, or demi-God. He is true God of true God.
When Christian work began in Japan, and the Bible was being translated, a Japanese translating the Gospel of John, blurted out, Who is this Man about whom I am reading, this Jesus You call Him a man, but He must be a God.
John 114e . . .full of grace. . .
Five, Jesus is full of grace. Grace conveys two basic ideas. It refers to something completely undeserved and unmerited. It always designates God loving just because He is love. We did not deserve for the Christmas Baby to come.
Grace also contains the idea of beauty. In modern Greek the word means charm. We sometimes use it this way ourselves, describing a person as having the beautiful trait of grace. In Jesus we see the sheer winsomeness of God. People tend to think of God primarily in terms of power, majesty, and judgment. These assessments are valid, 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 methods of representing God. When the world can see God as He really is, charming and winsome, many respond positively.
Jesus said, I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 1232). The Lords death and resurrection show Him as the One altogether kind and beautiful. Lets discover it ourselves, rejoice in it, and tell the world.
John 114f . . .and truth.
Six, Jesus is full of truth. Truth refers to what is genuine, the real thing. In Christ, nothing is counterfeit. As the Rock, the Dependable One, He never fails us.
Grace and truth are the two things we need most from God. We need grace, a lovely friend in heaven who wants to help the helpless though they do not deserve it. We need truth, a friend powerful enough to help the helpless.
Jesus is total love and total dependability. Anything or anyone else claiming the ability to bring true happiness, and give the best life possible, is counterfeit.