To the Greeks, Logos was an abstract philosophy, and in fact a heresy had been growing in the church in John’s time that claimed Logos was a spirit that had entered Jesus when he began his ministry and then left him before his final hour of the crucifixion.
That heresy was called Docetism, from the Greek word “dokeo” which means “to seem.” It was a form of Gnosticism that said Jesus only -seemed- to be both man and God.
John 1:14-18, The Incarnate Word
So John carefully chose his words to dispel any misunderstanding about who Jesus is.
And the word became fleshJohn 1:14a
In the original Greek text those two words appear side by side,
“And the word flesh became.”
The Word, the creative thought and energy of God, became a soft, vulnerable baby.
This is called the incarnation
the infinite became finite
the eternal became conformed to time
invisible became visible
the supernatural One chose to be reduced to the natural
The Word did not cease to be God. The Word willingly laid aside some of the privileges of glory, but he never gave up his deity. This is the hard part to truly grasp. Jesus was fully God and fully man.
Amazingly, this was what God had in mind from the very beginning.
And, the Lord designed human beings with the capacity for God and a hunger for God. God created people in God’s own image, the image of Jesus, and made us to correspond to the Lord. Being made in God’s image, then, means that people are made as personal, moral, and spiritual beings.
God gave some animals the ability to think and feel in a “soulish” way, as the Bible puts it, but only the human received God’s breath, or “Spirit.” When a person is brought forth out of God, anew, the Lord fills—totally saturates and permanently alters—that person with God’s own Holy Spirit.
People are designed to contain God’s Holy Spirit in the most intimate communion possible.
- People have intelligence, the ability to think and to know, to understand ideas. We have the ability to think (at least some of) God’s thoughts, to share in the Mind of Christ.
- We also have emotions, specially designed to experience God in a different way than thoughts: adoration of the Lord’s beauty, reverence towards God’s holiness, awe at God’s power and perfection, a response of love to the Lord’s own loving kindness, compassion and mercy.
- People have a will—the ability to make choices, to reject or receive the light, for instance.
God gave people the gift of language, the ability to communicate with God and to understand the Lord’s unique revelation of God and humanity, of spiritual things and the spiritual realm, things we cannot otherwise know, as they are unseen, beyond the reach of our scientific inquiry.
Jesus has always shined the light into darkness, by giving every person the innate ability to tell right from wrong, which is called the conscience. From the beginning God has always given each person a simple test, to teach us how to know, and understand in an experiential way, the difference.
Right is upholding to God’s word, and wrong is choosing something apart from God’s expressed will.
Because we are made in the image of God, our original design was to display God’s holiness. And because the Lord made people like God, people have the ability to be in relationship with God. Being in loving fellowship with God is every person’s greatest purpose, every person’s greatest good, deepest fulfillment, pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.
So, John went on to say that
. . . and he resided among usJohn 1:14b
Literally, that word “resided” means “tabernacled,” which would have made Jewish readers of John’s gospel think immediately of God’s tabernacle in Exodus.
During the desert years, the Hebrew people lived in tents, and The Lord had a tent pitched for God as well, which would be God’s home, as it were, that the Lord could live among the people. God’s Shekinah, the pillar of fire and cloud which was the visible aspect of God’s presence, descended on the tabernacle and tented with the rest of the Hebrews in the desert.
The law was kept and put on display at the gate of God’s tabernacle. It was the place of revelation, where Moses would speak to God face-to-face, and God would speak to the people. People came to God’s tent, the tabernacle, to worship the Lord. And, at the tabernacle, the sprinkled blood of sacrifices would symbolize God’s forgiveness for their sin.
Now Jesus fulfilled all that by taking on a body to “tabernacle” in with his people
. . . and we beheld, perceived, and contemplated his glory, the glory in the manner of a father’s only-born, full and complete in grace, joy, and favor and truthJohn 1:14c
The glory Moses had asked God to show him, John saw in Jesus.
Jesus was fully man, but he never stopped being God. In verse 15 the Baptist gave his testimony that even though Jesus had been born six months -after- the Baptist, and even though Jesus started his ministry -after- the Baptist had started his own ministry, prophesying in the desert, still
“This was the one I spoke of: the one coming -after- me who came into being -before- me, who was first (in eternity) before me,”John 1:15b
Jesus is from eternity.
John described the fullness of Jesus’ grace in verses 16 and 17. If you have a Bible, take a look at that phrase “grace upon grace” or “blessing after blessing.” The first grace, or blessing, from God was the law God gave to Moses in verse 18.
The first grace, or blessing: through that Law people came to know God’s holiness and perfection, which none of us can match on our own, and also God’s generous forgiveness which the sacrifices only symbolized, always pointing to Jesus.
The second grace, or blessing: the Lord gave was God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. The grace and truth of Jesus are the same as life and light. Life is the gracious gift of God to all God’s creatures, and light is the understanding of truth, the illumination of truth. True life and true light only come through faith in Jesus
No one has ever seen God, John said in verse 18. But Jesus, the unique one and only, fully man and fully God who is at the Father’s side, has made God known to us.
To know Jesus is to know God
Just as a scientist studying quantum physics can show that one particle can be in two places at the same time, the apostle John could, by his own eye witness testimony, along with John the Baptist’s, demonstrate that the Word was not only with God, but the Word actually was God, too.
It seems impossible, it is a mystery, but it is true.
Though there are at least two people (Hagar and Moses) who saw God in some way, only Jesus has fully seen God as God truly is, and only Jesus makes God fully known to you and me.
[The Word made flesh | Gerard van Honthorst / Public domain]