And the Word

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).                                                         

To this point in his record of Jesus, John has identified Jesus as God, Creator, Life, and the giver of life and light. Now the historian turns to the earthly mission of Jesus by first relating the humiliation of Him in taking on flesh. It matters not what lofty positions Jesus might had occupied on earth; none could equal His existence in heaven with the Father. Paul wrote the Philippians, “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God, counted not the being on equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in likeness of man” (Phil. 2:5-7). 

John 1:14 clearly links the gospel of John and the first epistle of John as products from the same pen. Not only do both books identify Jesus as the “Word” (Jn. 1:1, 14; 1 Jn. 1:1), but both affirm Jesus took on the robe of flesh as well. First John 1:1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we have beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life.” In this verse the writer said he (with others) had exercised three of the five senses God endowed man with: hearing, seeing, and touching. And if identifying Jesus as the Word shows the kinship between 1st John and the gospel, the affirmation that the “word became flesh” tells us that from the same hand came 2nd John which states that he who denies that Jesus came in the flesh is both a deceiver and antichrist (2 John 7).

When John wrote that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us … and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father,” we must remember that however marvelously Jesus demonstrated the glory of God on the earth, the brilliancy of His glory there must have been but a dim reflection of the glory He had with His Father before His advent into the world. It must have been a rapturous thing to have witnessed the scene on the high mountain when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John (Matt. 17:1-5), and of which moment Peter professed “we beheld his majesty” (1 Pet. 1:16-18). Furthermore, this glory was doubtlessly restored to Him once again when He returned to heaven. Still, let us never forget that Paul wrote of Him, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). The poverty Jesus came to experience was the giving up His life for us. But while that is true, He took on Himself the depth of physical poverty as well. He said, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20). Jesus’ time on our earth was in reality humiliation to Him, an “emptying of himself” is the way Paul characterizes it in Philippians.

The Hebrew writer also wrote of Jesus’ robing Himself with flesh and His purpose for doing so. Heb. 2:11-12 says, “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to naught him that hath the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” This passage gives two reasons why Jesus took on Himself flesh. First, it was done that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, the devil. Second, it was done so that He might deliver all them who through fear of death were subject to bondage during their lifetime.

We are not left in doubt as to how Christ, through the death of His flesh, can destroy the one who has the power of death. First we are told that “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). To make possible the “taking away of sin” we are told, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifice for sin thou hadst no pleasure: Then said I, Lo, I am come (in the roll of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:5-7). The point is clear. Because it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, God had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and the sacrifice (of animals) for sin. But sacrifice for sin was necessary, so God prepared a body for His Son that His Son might offer the perfect sacrifice for sin. Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin, He took away death which resulted from sin. And by His resurrection He completed His defeat of the devil. His sacrifice for sin made forgiveness possible and His resurrection took away Satan’s power over man through death. Christ’s rout of Satan is complete. Also, by His resurrection Jesus not only destroyed Satan’s power in death; He delivered men from the fear of death by demonstrating to them that there is deliverance from death. Christ was raised from the dead and we shall be too.

In Christ’s advent to earth there is the crowning glory which is perceived by those who see Him for who He is. They see the exalting glory of God’s Son full of grace (the wondrous gift of God to man) and full of truth. How the human spirit longs for that which is wholly true, having neither admixture of deception nor falsehood. All men can be confident of God’s gift of His Son to man — there is “no catch” to it! Laying hold of that grace procures for man the salvation of his soul, a gift worth more than all the world.

Jim McDonald

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