THE INCARNATION OF GOD IN CHRIST
I have mentioned the incarnation in a meditation before. But this verse must focus entirely on that subject. John dips deep into the mysteries of God and comes up with the astounding truth of God becoming a Man. Without this truth we do not have a Saviour in Christ. It took the incarnation to qualify him for the life he lived, i.e., a life of absolute sinlessness. He lived the life he lived to qualify him for the death he died, i.e., a substitutionary death. He died the death he died to give me the gift of grace, i.e., eternal life. His good example cannot save us. That would be the equivalent of keeping the law. If I can’t keep the law in written form, I can’t follow his perfect example. You see I am not perfect and no matter how hard I try, I can’t reach that standard of righteousness. So, my only hope is to have a Saviour who would pay the debt I owe and give to me the righteousness that I can offer to God as the holiness I need, if I am ever to see God. This is the gospel. Jesus died to pay for my sins and give me his perfect righteousness (Rom. 5:17). That is a good trade and that is the gift of grace.
There are four things that stand out in this verse. First, the Word made flesh. John says, “And the Word was made flesh.” The Word is capitalized in our KJV and rightfully so. It is the same Word (Logos) that is in verse one. This Word that was in the beginning, that was with God and was God is now made flesh. The word “made” (ginomai) means “became” and is an aorist tense, middle voice and indicative mood. The aorist tense means that he became flesh at a point of time. This is the Christmas story. It was in a stable because there was no room in the Inn. Jesus was the eternal Logos, uncreated, eternal, coexistent and coeternal with the Father. But he became something when he “became” flesh that he had never been before, i.e., a Man. It is middle voice. The middle voice is where the subject acts in its own behalf and participates in the result of the action. Jesus, the God man, wholly God and wholly man, has united man with himself so that Man is now the image of the invisible God. Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
God made man in his image. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” And later when God made a law concerning murder he says in Genesis 9:6, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The image of God is marred in man through sin as recorded in Genesis chapter three. But it is restored completely in the person of Christ. The image could never be restored through obedience. If this could have been done then the Law of Moses would have been the answer. The only solution for sinful man is for God to become a man and do as man what man was created to do, i.e., be perfect in his relationship to God. But this is not all. He did not become God incarnate just so there would be one man that would be as God created man to be, i.e., the perfect image of the invisible God. But he did this so that man as a sinner could be reconciled and restored and he could lead a host of the redeemed into the presence of God, all with the restored image of the invisible God. 2 Cor. 5:19 says, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” There you have it. The purpose of the incarnation is the reconciling of the world. John says, “The word was made flesh.”
Second, he says, “. . . and dwelt among us.” This is a temporary arrangement. Time is temporary. The Logos stepped out of the “eternal now” and became temporarily confined to time. The word “dwelt” (skenoo) comes from a word that means, “a tabernacle, a tent. Metaphorically it speaks of the human body, in which the soul dwells as in a tent, and which is taken down at death.” Pink says, “There is here a latent reference to the tabernacle of Israel in the wilderness. That tabernacle had a typical significance: it foreshadowed God the Son incarnate.” —Exposition of the Gospel of John by Arthur Pink. The Tabernacle in the wilderness was a temporary arrangement and moveable at a moment’s notice. Jesus body of flesh was temporary and as a tent it was pitched in the midst of Israel for a testimony. It was in the tent that the Presence of God was manifested and it was in the flesh of Jesus that the Presence of God was manifested.
Third, John says, “(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,).” The word “beheld” (theaomai) means “to behold, look upon, view attentively, contemplate (often used of public shows).” The invisible God became visible and put on public display in the person of Jesus. John says, “and we beheld his glory.” The word “beheld” is an aorist middle indicative verb. The aorist tense gathers up all that “we beheld” in a single snapshot. The middle voice means that “we beheld” this for ourselves and were benefited by what we saw. The word “glory” (doxa) means “splendor, brightness.” It refers to anything in a person or thing that calls for praise. I have never been to the Grand Canyon. But when I see it in a picture or in a film, I am awe stricken. My emotions swell and the adrenalin begins to flow. The beauty of the scene calls for praise and admiration. This is what John is describing. He says, “When we beheld him, we beheld the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” John said, “It was marvelous. We will never be the same.” We can also have this experience. Would you like to have this experience? Paul says in 2 Cor. 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” You see, you cannot gaze upon Jesus even today without being changed into his likeness. Selah! My adrenalin is beginning to flow. Someone hold my mules!
Fourth, John says, “full of grace and truth.” He says in verse 17: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Wasn’t the law truth? Grace and truth are being contrast to the Law of Moses here. The word “truth” is being used not in contrast to “untruth or a lie” but to “reality.” One of John’s favorite words is “truth.” I believe John uses it to refer to “things as they really are.” So we have “grace and truth” both combined in the person of Christ.
Roy Hession comments: “And here he tells us that it is not only grace that has come by Jesus Christ, but truth too and that, by implication, through the cross. If the cross of Jesus is the supreme revelation of grace (which it is), so it is of truth—the truth about God and especially the truth about ourselves. The naked truth about us all stares down at us from the cross. It was on the cross that He died; and if death on a cross was a punishment reserved for criminals (which it was under Roman law), and if it was our place that he took, what does that make us to be? Nothing more than a lot of criminals. That is the naked truth about us all and it is revealed by the place the Lord had to take to save us. What grace, you say! Yes, but what humbling truth for us too!” –Good News For Bad People by Roy Hession.
God became a Man in the person of Christ to save us. No less will do. There are basically two groups of people in the world. There are those who believe that you enter heaven by human merit and those of us who believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. To those who believe that heaven is the prize for those who work their way, Christ, and how he got here, is of little consequence. But for those of us who believe that salvation is by Grace, Christ, and how he got here and his substitutionary atonement, is everything. We do not believe a person can be saved at all unless the right thing is believed about Jesus. If your Saviour is not God manifest in the flesh, you do not have a Saviour at all.
May God bless you.