Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE INCARNATION”

John 1.14

 

Have you ever thought how much at odds Christianity is with this world in which you live, how opposed to everything this world values the Christian faith is? No wonder they hate us when we are like our Savior and pretend to reward us when we are silent and unspiritual, keeping to ourselves, so they don’t feel convicted by their criminality and spiritual stupidity. The world of men would like to think that men are most important, especially so-called great men and women, prominent men and women, famous and extravagant men and women. Unsaved family members want to believe that families are most important. The Christian faith, however, particularly the Word of God that we hold dear and declare to be true, reveals that it is God Who is important, Who is central, and Who really matters; not so much you and me except as we are associated with God’s plan and purpose.

This is never more obvious than when we come to such passages as the first chapter of John’s gospel, where we are brought to a consideration of eternity, and especially to a consideration of the One, Who spans the length and depth and breadth of eternity, identified by John’s gospel as the Word. The Word was already eternally there, in the beginning, was already eternally with God in the beginning, and was and actually is God from eternity past. Not only was the Word, Who is God in the beginning with God, but in fact, everything that has been created was created by Him. There is nothing that exists that was made but by Him. In this One Who is the Word was life. As well, He was the light of men. If such truths as these do not make you recognize your smallness, your weakness, your comparative insignificance, then you are as insightful and discerning as a rock, and a small rock at that.

What a jolt it is for any person who is caught up in the trivial details of what he thinks of as life, focused on what he thinks of as important that is in front of him, taking but little notice of others or of the afterlife, perhaps considering how to advance his own agenda and fulfill his own goals and desires, to be suddenly confronted with the notion that you are a very slight speck amongst billions of other specks, on a tiny granule called Earth, that is a part of a small solar system located in a huge spinning cyclone called the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of the billions of galaxies in the known physical universe. But don’t be overawed by the size and beauty of this immense universe that we live in. The point that John is making as he quickly passes by such considerations with the slightest notice is the One Who brought this vast universe into existence. He is One of such radiance, such majesty, such light, and life (as John terms Him) that none of us comprehended Him when He came, of all places, here.

 

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John”

 

who was sent to prepare the way for Him.

For the most part, however, He was not recognized when He came, or received, but was in fact rejected. Crucified, if truth be told though death could not contain Him and He rose on the third day. John very briefly turns our attention from the Word to those very few individuals who did not ultimately reject Him. In John 1.12-13, we are told about the few:

 

12    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Are you one of the few who received Him, rather than one of the great majority who rejects Him? Have you believed on His name? Are you of those born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God? If so, then you are among those rare individuals who is rightly termed a Christian. As well, this fourth gospel, this gospel of John, has been written for you, according to John 20.31:

 

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

 

A. T. Robertson informs us that the phrase “that ye might believe” literally means “that you may keep on believing.”[1]

 

Are you one of those few who saw in Him what others did not see, who believed in Him when most did not, and who received the Savior most have rejected? What do you say we take advantage of John’s gospel to strengthen further our faith in Christ? Turn with me to John 1.14. Once you have found that passage, I invite you to stand and read along silently with me while I read aloud:

 

14    And 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.

15    John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

16    And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17    For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

18    No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

 

“The major burden of 1:14-18 is to identify the Word explicitly with Jesus,”[2] which connection with the Lord Jesus Christ this passage certainly establishes. There can be no doubt that the Word mentioned in John 1.1-4 is Jesus of Nazareth, for reasons found in the passage just read.

My text for this morning’s message is John 1.14:

 

“And 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.”

 

This is one of those verses in God’s Word that stands like Mount Everest before a first-time mountain climber, with lofty peaks that are daunting, rising beyond our ability to see. Forgive me in advance, please, for what I know is my inability to do this verse justice. I will, however, do my best to reflect well on the Savior:

 

First, NOTE WHAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DID

 

For the moment, we confine our consideration to this verse and the phrase,

 

“And the Word was made flesh.”

 

The Word has been shown to be eternal, outside this universe, and utterly unlike us. However, we are here told the Word “was made flesh.” What does it mean to be made flesh? The concept of being made flesh, from the Greek word egeneto, does not mean “changed into” in the sense that the Lord Jesus, by becoming human, ceased to be God. Nor does it mean that He merely “appeared” to be human. The main point is that God now has chosen to be with His people in a more personal way than ever before.[3] It is crucial that we understand that when the Lord Jesus Christ was made flesh, He did not cease in any way to be what He was before. When Lot’s wife looked back on Sodom, she was turned into a pillar of salt and ceased being what she had been before. Not so with the Lord Jesus Christ. What happened when the Word was made flesh was that the Second Person of the Trinity assumed human nature, with His divine nature and His acquired human nature being fused.[4]

Consider with me the implications of the Word becoming flesh, what we know to be the Virgin Birth of Christ that is mentioned elsewhere but not spelled out here by John. “The Infinite became finite. The Invisible became tangible. The Transcendent became imminent. That which was far off drew nigh. That which was beyond the reach of the human mind became that which could be beholden within the realm of human life. Here we are permitted to see through a veil that, which unveiled would have blinded us. ‘The Word became flesh:’ He became what He was not previously. He did not cease to be God, but He became Man.”[5] Do you see the impossibility of what the Lord Jesus Christ did when He became a man? How does that which is greater than the universe come to be a part of the universe? It is not simply the combination of matter and antimatter, but the combination of Deity and flesh. If you reflect on John 1.14 and consider once more John 1.1-4, you will see that God inspires John to show that the Incarnation is on par with Creation in their significance. Before moving on to another point, it needs to be emphasized to avoid the error that when the Second Person of the Triune Godhead stepped into the physical universe He created, He did not do so at the expense of His deity. When He acquired real humanity, He did not divest Himself of any essence or attributes that have been eternally His. Neither did either of His two natures, His divine nature, and His human nature, blend so as to become a different, third, nature. He remained fully divine with the same essence as the Father and the Spirit, while also possessing the same nature as His mother, Mary, and His apostles and other human beings, save only that He was without sin. “This union of the two natures in the Person of Christ was necessary in order to fit Him for the office of Mediator. Three great ends were accomplished by God becoming incarnate, by the Word being made flesh. First, it was now possible for Him to die. Second, He can now be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Third, He has left us an example, that we should follow His steps.”[6]

 

Next, NOTE WHERE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DWELT

 

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

 

The phrase “and dwelt among us” must not be regarded as a restatement of the previous phrase, “and the Word was made flesh.” The idea is that the first phrase, “and the Word was made flesh,” shows that the eternal Word assumed human nature permanently. The second phrase, “and dwelt among us,” refers to something else entirely. Using a word that appears only here and in the Revelation, John shows that in Jesus Christ, God has come to take up residence among His people once again, in a way even more intimate than when He dwelt in the midst of wilderness Israel in the tabernacle.[7]

But lived how in our midst? This Greek word translated dwelt more literally means “to live in a tent.”[8] Keep in mind that God has always desired to dwell with His people. Did He not walk with Adam in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening, Genesis 3.8? Then Adam sinned, creating a moral barrier between God and man. Yet God made provision. He ordered that a tabernacle, a tent, be built:

 

Exodus 25.8: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”

 

Exodus 29.45:    “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.”

 

Psalm 68.18:  “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.”

 

Revelation 7.15: “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.”

 

The most intimate provision that God has made to dwell with His people since the Fall of Adam has been the Incarnation when God became a Man. Clothed in human flesh by reason of His Virgin Birth and the acquisition of a real human nature, all the while being sinless. Hebrews 4.15 reveals to us that He

 

“was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

 

Though it is an issue not raised at this point by John, I think it serves us well to reflect on the why of it all. The Lord Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin, partly so that He might fulfill the part of a redeemer. Numerous New Testament passages show that a central feature of the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ’s doing and dying is redemption.[9] For the Lord Jesus Christ to fulfill the role of a redeemer He had to fulfill four qualifications: First, He had to be the kinsman of those to be redeemed. Second, He had to be able to pay the price of redemption for His kinsmen. Third, He had to be willing to redeem. Finally, the kinsman had to himself be free from the calamity requiring redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ’s Virgin Birth fulfilled the first requirement, making Him a kinsman of those He would redeem. His death on the cross was the price He paid for our redemption. His willingness to offer Himself a sacrifice for our sins fulfilled the third requirement to qualify as our Redeemer. Finally, being sinless, He was not caught up in our calamity of sinfulness, leaving Him free to redeem us.[10]

 

Finally, NOTE WHAT WAS SEEN

 

“(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

 

This thing encompassed by the word glory, the Greek word doxa, from which we get doxology, is a huge and far-reaching concept in the Bible. It is too much for us to attempt this morning. Let me just say that the word is used first here in John’s gospel. Three comments are appropriate for now:

First, we see John’s claim:

 

“And we beheld his glory.”

 

Here John asserts that he saw Christ’s glory. Precisely what it was he saw is, as I said, too large a matter for us to deal with extensively. That said, there is little doubt about where he saw what he saw. It was when our Lord Jesus Christ took Peter, James, and John to a mountain apart from the others, where He

 

“was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”[11]

 

Peter refers to the event in Second Peter 1.17-18. It was an astonishing event witnessed by only three of the apostles, who were commanded to say nothing of what they saw until after the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection, Matthew 17.9.

Next, we see John’s conclusion about what he saw:

 

“the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.”

 

Take note of the words “as of.” Those two words reveal to us that John does not in this verse claim that he actually saw the glory of God through Christ bursting forth on the mountain in what was called the transfiguration. Rather, he is claiming that he saw what could be seen because no one can actually see the glory of the Father in the Son.[12] Nevertheless, what John and the other two saw was brighter than the noonday sun, and the entire episode terrified them, Matthew 17.6. It was but a glimpse of the radiance and majesty of God clothed in human flesh, that burst forth for just a moment as the Savior spoke to Moses and Elijah on that mountain, after which God spoke to silence Peter for speaking out of turn:

 

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”[13]

 

Third, we see John’s conviction:

 

“full of grace and truth.”

 

Here John tells us what God is like. Here John tells us what the Lord Jesus Christ is like. This is your answer when a child asks you, “What is God like?” or “What is Jesus like?” He is “full of grace and truth.” As well, it is likely that here John is reminding his readers of Exodus chapters 33 and 34 when Moses asked God to show him His glory, Exodus 33.18-23:

 

18    And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

19    And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

20    And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

21    And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

22    And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

23    And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

 

It would not be lost on John’s Jewish readers that in both Exodus 33 and on the Mount of Transfiguration Moses was present, with God’s glory passing by in Exodus 33 and God’s glory bursting forth from Christ’s humanity on the mountain. In both places, it was something or the other of God’s “back parts” that was seen and not His “face.” Notice, also, Exodus 34.5-6, where we see something akin to John’s phrase

 

“full of grace and truth”:

 

5      And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

6      And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

 

Do you see that last phrase, “abundant in goodness and truth”? It is what John is reminding his readers of at the end of John 1.14. There is no way a Jewish reader of the first century could read John 1.14, especially the final phrase, without thinking of the experience of Moses with the God of Israel and the glory of God in Exodus chapters 33-34.

 

What do we have in John 1.14? We have too much for us to grasp at one sitting. We see in this verse that the Apostle John is pulling together in this one verse two strands of truth. One strand pulls at John 1.1-4, which in turn connects to Genesis 1 and 2, showing that without question the Lord Jesus Christ is not only God but that He is the Creator of all things. The other strand pulls at the Mount of Transfiguration and the bursting forth of God’s glory from the body of Jesus Christ, along with Exodus 33 and 34 when Moses was given a glimpse of the LORD’s glory and then described Himself in terms that John essentially repeated at the end of John 1.14.

What are we left with as we conclude our consideration of John 1.14? We should be left overwhelmed at the consideration of Jesus Christ, Virgin-born, God incarnate, Creator of all things, God of Israel, God of glory. No wonder it can be said that one who knows Jesus Christ knows God and one who does not know Jesus Christ knows nothing. No wonder it can be claimed that one who owns Jesus Christ as his Savior has everything, while one who does not own Jesus Christ as his Savior has nothing.

__________

[1] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1932), page 317.

[2] Andreas J. Kostenberger, John - ECNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), page 40.

[3] Ibid.

[4] William Hendricksen, Exposition Of Paul’s Epistle To The Romans, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), page 84.

[5] Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), Vol 1, page 32.

[6] Ibid., page 33.

[7] Revelation 7.15; 12.12; 13.6; 21.3; Kostenberger, page 41.

[8] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 218.

[9] Romans 3.24; 1 Corinthians 1.30; Ephesians 1.7, 14; 4.30; Colossians 1.14; Hebrews 9.12, 15

[10] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. VII, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), pages 263-264.

[11] Matthew 17.1-2

[12] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According To John (PNTC), (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), page 42.

[13] Matthew 17.5

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org