AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH
by Bob Wheeler
“And the Word became 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.”
John 1:14; NKJV
We have seen, then, in our last blog post, that Jesus is “the Word,” the Logos, the Creator of the universe. In John 1:14, however, the apostle John goes on to make a most remarkable statement: “And the Word became flesh.” And this brings us right to the heart of the mystery of the Incarnation.
The Bible uses the word “flesh” to denote human existence in all of its earthly weakness, limitations and frailty. “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh . . .” (Gen. 6:3).
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it . . .”
Here, then, is the remarkable thing about the Incarnation: that the infinite God could become finite man, and be both at the same time.
John goes on to say that Christ “dwelt among us.” The word translated “dwelt” literally means “to pitch a tent,” and here apparently refers to the temporary nature of Christ’s stay here on earth. It also recollects the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, and God’s “Shekinah” glory which accompanied Israel through the wilderness. And John says that Christ dwelt “among us” – He shared our earthly existence: our sorrows and joys, and even our temptations.
And then John goes on to say “and we beheld His glory”; and here John is speaking of his own first- hand experience as one who knew Jesus personally during Jesus’ ministry here on earth. John personally had the opportunity Jesus perform miracles and of listening to His teaching. And John, along with Peter and James, had the special privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, in which Jesus’ face shone and His clothes became bright white; and they heard a voice from heaven saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him!” (Matt. 17:1-8).
John says that Jesus’ glory was “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” All Christians are sons of God, in the sense that they have been adopted by Him. But Jesus was God’s Son in a special, unique way. He was the One who shared the Father’s eternal divine nature. In that sense He was God’s “only Son.”
And finally John says that the Son’s glory was “full of grace and truth.” “Grace” is God’s goodwill or kindness, often undeserved by its beneficiaries. John usually uses the word “truth” in its usual English sense: that which is true, as opposed to what is false. And both of these, according to John, were brought to us by Jesus. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Christ, through His teaching and example brought us a full and perfect revelation of the will of God. But more importantly, He brought us salvation, the forgiveness of sins.
This, then, is the remarkable thing about the birth of Christ: that the eternal Son of God would come down here to earth and take on the form of a finite human being. And why? Because He loved us enough to die on the cross to save us from our sins. It was an amazing act of love and condescension. How much do we owe Him! And how we should imitate His example of self-sacrificing love!
“Who is this so weak and helpless,
Child of lowly Hebrew maid,
Rudely in a stable sheltered,
Coldly in a manger laid?
‘Tis the Lord of all creation,
Who this wondrous path hath trod;
He is God from everlasting,
And from everlasting God.”
Wm. Walsham How