Christ, The Word Incarnate
Scripture: “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”
Commentary: He who had no limits, limited himself. He who was invisible became visible. The one who was beyond the normal limits of earth became ready to dwell among men on their level. Because of Him we are able to see beyond the veil. If it were not for Him when we look beyond the veil we would be blinded. He is the filter through which we see God. Jesus became that which he had not been, a man. He did not cease to be God, but He became man. Our Divine Saviour took upon Himself human nature. He became a real man, yet a sinless, perfect Man. As a man He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. He came to rescue us, to knock Satan out of the way, to remove the barrier of sin, which separates us from God.
Here in Christ is the union of two natures that is one of the mysteries of our faith. Godliness is, without controversy, the greatest mystery. 1 Timothy 3:16 – God was manifest in the flesh! His divine title is “ The Word of God”. He became flesh, which is “Holy Humanity”, the God-man! Yet the Divine and human in him were never confused. His deity, although not visible, was not laid aside. His humanity, though sinless, was a real humanity. He became flesh and blood. Luke 2:52 says “He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”. He truly was the “Son of God” and “The Son of Man”.
This union of the two natures in Christ was necessary for Him to hold the office of Mediator. God accomplished three great ends in this:
1. It was now possible for Jesus to die for the sins of the world. He had to become flesh in order to die.
2. He could now be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
3. He has left us an example that we should follow in His steps. He has made it possible for us to follow in His steps. By faith we are able to receive the power that flows from the Throne of God, through Christ, into the believer.
This duality in Jesus was plainly the one sent from God to bring us into oneness with the Father. He did this through His suffering. Isaiah 53:3 – He was a man of sorrows. He was to be the Branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious – Isaiah 4:2. We are leading up to John Chapter 15 where Jesus describes the power we have as a part of the Kingdom of God. He said, I am the vine and ye are the branches!
God took upon himself human nature. He became a real man, yet a sinless, perfect man. Hebrews 7:26 says as a man He was “Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”. Jesus Christ is the union of two natures. This is the great mystery of our faith. 1 Timothy 2:16 “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.
Word – Is His divine title
Flesh – Speaks of His divine humanity.
This Jesus is so extraordinary to the world there can be no mistake that He is the Son of God. He is unique in that God took on flesh through Him and we take on the righteousness of God through Him. In Jesus Christ we become one with God. We are reconciled.
God accomplished three things in Christ:
1. It was now possible for Him to die.
2. He can now be touched with the feelings of our infirmities.
3. He has left us an example, that we should follow His steps.
God did not create Satan; He created Lucifer, a bright star in God’s kingdom. Lucifer decided to be rebel against God. He decided he knew more than God and began to spread the thought around heaven that God wasn’t running things right. He convinced angels to join his crusade against God and war broke out in heaven. To made a long story short, Satan lost and was thrown out of heaven and confined to the earth. God knew this was going to happen and could have vaporized Satan and his whole crowd of angels, however, if he did this it would create doubts in others that he created. The impression would be that maybe Satan was right and therefore this rebellion and war would continue. How many of us have figured out that God does not fight wars like the world fights wars. He is a God of love and not of hate. God decided love would be his weapon. Instead of destroying Satan and his group he put love and hate on display for us to choose which we will follow. In this manner all doubt would be put away forever. God has allowed us the right to choose. You see, God does not have to destroy anyone, those with hate and worldly lusts will destroy themselves. God has allowed us the privilege to see for ourselves whether we want to follow a liar like Satan whose total agenda is to destroy all that is good or choose God who put himself on the alter in the greatest act of love ever seen. He took our punishment and died for our sins. God did this so that we may live forever with the one who loves us without ceasing. So the greatest ever poised becomes; “Who will you serve?”
Throughout scripture prophecy sometimes represents Christ as human and sometimes Divine.
Genesis 3:15 – He was to be the woman’s seed
Deut 18:18 - A prophet like unto Moses
2 Samuel 7:12 - A lineal descendant of David
Isaiah 42:11 Jehovah’s servant
Isaiah 53:3 A man of sorrows
Isaiah 4:2 The branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious.
Isaiah 9:6 The wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the Father of the ages, the Prince of Peace.
Malachi 3:1 As Jehovah He was to come suddenly to His Temple.
Micah 5:2 The one who was to be born in Bethlehem and be ruler in Israel, was the one whose going forth had been from the days of eternity.
How are these two different sets of prophecy to be harmonized? John 1:14 is the answer. Jesus is the Divine and eternal word which does not mean that God dwells in man, but that God became a man. He became what He was not previously though He never ceased to be all that He was before.
God became man, which He never did before, however, He never ceased to be all that He was before, God. Jesus was “God with us”.
John’s gospel was specifically written to bring out in a special was that “God became flesh”. The miracles recorded there illustrate and demonstrate this. Take a look at the turning of water into wine at the wedding. He did nothing but “speak” the word and commanded the servants to “fill the pots” with water and the transformation was complete.
Look at the nobleman whose son was sick. The father came to the Lord and asked him to journey to his home and heal his son. We see the answer to his request in John 4:50. Jesus said “to thy way, thy son liveth” . The miracle was performed.
Again, consider the man who was lying on the porch of Bethesda and could never be first into the water to be healed because no one would help him be first into the water. Jesus passed by and said to him “rise”. The word and power went forth and the man was healed.
Finally, consider Lazarus. The only recording of this miracle appears in the book of John. Jesus said “Lazarus come forth” and he who was dead, lived.
In all these miracles we see the word at work. The “Word” came down from heaven and dwelt among us. Jesus pitched His tent here on earth for 33 years. The temple in the wilderness foreshadowed God the Son incarnate. Here are a few things that are plain about this matter:
1. The Tabernacle was a “temporary” appointment.
The tabernacle was merely a tent, something that could be moved from place to place during the journey of the Israelites. So it was with Jesus; His stay was brief and He did not live in one place but was constantly moving. He never became weary of spreading God’s love.
2. The Tabernacle was for use in the wilderness during the time of Israel’s journey from Egypt to the “Promised Land” and was God’s appointed provision for them. The wilderness was a striking comparison to the conditions under which were in Jesus day. The wilderness home of the tabernacle unmistakably foreshadowed the manger-cradle, the Nazerine’s carpenter’s bench, the “nowhere for the Son of Man to lay His head, and the borrowed tomb.
If you add it up from the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible which tells the story of the spiritual development of the Hebrew people) . Israel used the tabernacle less than 35 years which mirrors the life of Jesus.
3. The tabernacle in the wilderness on the outside was mean looking, humble, and unattractive in appearance. Likewise it is written that Jesus majesty was hidden behind a veil of flesh. To the gaze of those Israelites “ He had no form nor comeliness; and when they looked at Him with their unanointed eyes they saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him.
4. The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place. It was there in the camp of the Israelites that He took up His dwelling place. There, between the Cheribum (winged, angelic beings who worship God.) God placed Cheribum at the East of the Garden of Eden with flaming swords that turned every way to guard the tree of life. It was there in the tabernacle, upon the mercy seat, God made His throne, in the Holy of Holies (the most sacred place or room in the tabernacle where only the High Priest could go. All the power and Holiness of God’s presence existed in this room). He manifested His presence by means of the Shekinah Glory. (a visible manifestation of the presence of God). During the 33 years Jesus tabernacled with men, lGod had His dwelling place in Palestine. Just as the Shekinah Glory of the God-Man Jesus flashed forth between two men – Moses and Elijah. “ We beheld His Glory “ is the language of the tabernacle.
5. The tabernacle was therefore the place where God met with me. (Exodus 25:21 7 22) “Jesus Christ is the meeting place between God and man.” (John 14:16) – “No man cometh to the Father except by me”
1 Timothy 2:5 –“There is no mediator between God and men, except Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who spans the gulf between God and men. He himself was both God and man.
6. The tabernacle was the center of Israel’s camp. The Levites, the priestly tribe, lived near the tabernacle. Numbers 1:50 “but thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all thing that belong to it; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
Around the Levites were grouped the 12 tribes, three on either side. (See Numbers 2:17). And, once more – Numbers 11:24-25 “And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the 70 men of the elders of the people, and sat them round about the tabernacle. And the Lord came down in a cloud and spake to him”.
This is very important! The tabernacle was the great gathering center. Here is a beautiful forshadowing of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is our gathering center. Matthew 18:20 and his precious promise is, that “where two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
7. The tabernacle was the place where the Law was preserved.
Exodus 32:19 “The first two tablets of stone, on which Jehovah wrote the Ten Commandments were broken”.
Deuteronomy 10:2-5 - But the second set were deposited in the Ark in the tabernacle for safekeeping. It was only there, within the Holy of Holies, the tablets of the Law were preserved intact.
This again speaks of Christ: Psalms 40:7-8 “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is written with my heart.
Throughout Jesus life he preserved in thought, word and deed, the wonderful Ten Commandments, honoring and magnifying God’ s law.
8. The tabernacle was the place where sacrifice was made. The brazen alter where animals were brought and killed was in its outer court. The blood was shed and atonement was made for sin.
So it was with Jesus. In His own person He fulfilled the significance of the brazen alter. The body in which He tabernacled (lived) on earth was nailed to a cruel tree. The cross was the alter upon which God’s Lamb was slain, where His precious blood was shed, and where complete atonement was made for the sin of everyone. But it must be accepted to be applied.
9. The tabernacle was the place where the priestly family was fed. Leviticus 6:16, 26 – This scripture described the approval of God for the priests and their family to eat the sacrifice “ in the Holy Place”
Christ is the food for priestly families today. All believers partake in this communion with Him. (see 1st Peter 2:5). He is the bread of life. He is the One upon whom our souls delight to feed.
10. The tabernacle was the place of worship. The Israelites reverently brought his offerings to the place of worship. He went there to worship Jehovah God. Often the voice of the Lord could be heard from the door. Within the courts of the tabernacle the priest ministered in their sacred service.
It is by Jesus we are to offer unto God a sacrifice of Praise. (see Hebrews 13:15) It is ‘in Christ” and by Him alone that we can worship the Father. It is through Christ we have access to the throne of grace.
Through this knowledge we loose al religion and become the sons and daughters of God.
In these comparisons of how the tabernacle foreshadowed Jesus Christ we see how full perfect God’s illustrations are for us. We see this even more when we consider a series of striking contrasts between the wilderness tabernacle “a tent” and Solomon’s Temple, an elaborate, permanent structure. It took 30,000 timber cutters, 80,000 stone cutters and 70,000 laborers and 7 years to build it.
There are seven comparisons that will bless you !
1. The tabernacle foreshadowed Christ’s first visit to the earth. The temple looks forward to His return.
2. The tabernacle was first. The temple was not built until long afterward. Jesus came in His temporary body but when He returns we shall see Him as He is, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!
When He was here on earth the first time, His body-His form was not impressive. But we shall see Him differently when He comes again. (see Revelation 19)
3. The tabernacle was a temporary structure; the temple was a permanent structure.
4. The tabernacle was put up by Moses the prophet (which was what Christ was in His first visit). Jesus said, “destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days” . The temple was built by Solomon the King. (Which is what Christ shall be when He comes again).
5. The tabernacle was used in the wilderness, which spoke of Jesus humiliation. The temple was built in Jerusalem, the city of the great King, which speaks of Christ’s future glorification.
6. The number that figured most prominently in the tabernacle was five. Five represents grace. Grace was what characterized the earthy ministry of Christ. The leading number of the temple was 12, which represents government. Christ shall rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!
7. The tabernacle, a tent, was not attractive. When Christ was here the first time He was a “root out of a dry ground”. The temple, which represents Christ at His second coming, was renowned for its outward magnificence. When Christ returns He will come in power and great glory.
Now, the second part of John 1:14 “and we beheld His glory”.
In the tabernacle and the temple God’s glory lived in the Holy of Holies and therefore was hidden from view. But this all changed when Jesus was crucified. The temple curtain was torn in two and all who are in Christ are able to see God’s glory. Eternity will be too short a time to explore the theme “we beheld His glory”. The glories of the Lord are infinite (without end). In Christ dwells all the fullness of the godhead Bodily. The “we beheld His glory” in this scripture signifies the supreme excellency which rests in Him. We can generally classify them in four categories. They are:
1. His essential glories – these are His divine perfections. His unlimited authority.
2. His moral glories – His human perfections. We particularly remember His meekness and His submission to God to do God’s perfect will.
3. His Official Glories - His position as mediator – His priesthood. Jesus is the Divinely appointed mediator between God and man.
4. His acquired glories – The reward for what he has done. The first three of these are spoken in our text.
a. “We beheld His glory” refers to this essential glory or divine perfections. The words which follow make this clear, they are “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. The deity of the Lord Jesus was plain from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry. His supernatural birth, His personal excellencies, His matchless teaching, His wondrous miracles, His death and resurrection all proclaimed His as the Son of God.
“We beheld His glory” follow immediately after the words “tabernacled” among men. Here is another reference to the tabernacle. Jehovah God made His throne upon the mercy seat, and the evidence of His presence was the Shekinah Glory frequently termed “the cloud”
Look at Exodus 40:34 – When the tabernacle was complete Jehovah took possession of it. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”
1 Kings 8:10 –11 ; The same thing happened at the completion of Solomon’s temple. The shekinah glory was the standing sign of God’s presence in the midst of Israel.
We can also learn a great lesson from Ezekiel 11:23. When Israel began to do things that were offensive to God. He turned away from them and “the glory of the Lord went up (left) from the midst of the city. There was none other than “The Word”, the Son of God dwelling in the midst of Israel.
We don’t realize how profound this is. In the beginning of Jesus time and at the end of His time here on earth the Shekinah glory of God was evidenced.
Luke 2:8-9 – And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”
Acts 1:9 (His departure) – “ And when he had spoken these thing, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Not clouds which would indicate normal atmospheric conditions, but “a cloud”)
b. There is also a reference to His “official glory” which was exhibited upon the Holy Mount. In 2nd Peter1:16 we read “For we have not followed devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty”
Matthew 17:5 “behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them”
c. In John 1:14 there is a clear reference to the moral glory or perfections of the God-man, for after saying “we beheld His glory” we find these words full of grace and truth.
Heaven’s throne descended to Bethlehem’s manger. Jesus appeared in weakness, voluntarily chose poverty, became a helpless babe. God truly did a wonderful thing when He sent Jesus.
When God stooped to the earth, we beheld His glory.
Greatness is never so glorious as when it takes the place of lowliness.
Power is never so attractive as when it is placed at the disposal of others.
Might is never so triumphant as when it sets aside it’s own prerogatives.
Sovereignty is never so winsome, as when it is seen in the place of service.
Jesus is the glory of matchless grace and fathomless love.
Isaiah 53:12 - Speaks of Jesus acquired glories “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong because he hath poured out His soul unto death”
These are the rewards bestowed (presented) to Jesus after He successfully completed the work the Father had given Him.
Philippians 2:9 confirms again these acquired glories. “wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name”
We are blessed to know that His acquired glories are shared with those who love Him.
John 17:24 – “Father I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me. “
One more thing about verse 14 before we move on. Verse 14 is an amplification and explanation of John 1:1. John 1:1 says “ In the beginning was the word” This is something that goes beyond our comprehension. But there is more “and the word was with God”. Again we are unable to understand. The word “tabernacled” among us allows us to draw near and observe all that He is. “and the word was God”. Again, we find ourselves in the realm of the infinite (the realm of no limit). And finally “full of grace and truth”. Here are two essential facts about God that we can understand about God. Let me expound:
“and the word became flesh” - tells of the beginning of His human life.
“and tabernacled among us” – shows Him with men
“Full of grace and truth – explains what God is.
In the beginning Jesus began His human life. And Jesus, being the word, was with God and came to live among men. “And the word was God” – He is “grace and truth”. Amen
In the next lesson we will move into John, chapter 1, verse 15.
God bless you!