Marveling at the Incarnation of the Word of God – John 1:14-18

Haddon Robinson: Christians are divided in their views of Christmas. Some want to give up on it and hand it over to the stores. Others want to salvage it and use it to say something important about the birth of Jesus to a weary secular world. I, for one, would like to take my place with the second group.

Years ago an old pioneer journeyed westward across the Great Plains of North America until he came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him—a vast chasm 1 mile deep, 18 miles across, and stretching out of sight. He gasped, “Something must have happened here!”

At the Christmas season, anyone who stops to look and listen must ask what the hustle and bustle is all about. A thoughtful man or woman, seeing the lights, the decorations, the festivities, and the religious services might also conclude, “Something must have happened here!”

Of course, something did happen. We need to tell the world about it. God has visited our planet. His Son Jesus Christ came to reveal God and to die for our sins (John 1:1-14). It’s the best news ever! The Lord came and lived among us that we might live forever with Him.

That’s why we can rejoice at Christmas.

One day has left its mark in time

For all mankind to see;

It is the day when Christ was born—

This morning we want to marvel at the Incarnation of the Word of God

AMAZINGLY THE WORD BECAME FLESH TO FULLY REVEAL GOD

I.  (:14) MARVELING AT THE REALITY OF THE INCARNATION

Def. of marveling: Be filled with wonder or astonishment

A.  Significance of the Identification of Jesus of Nazareth as the Word

And the Word

What does it mean for Jesus Christ to be identified as the Word?

Hendriksen: A word serves two distinct purposes:

  1. it gives expression to the inner thought, the soul of the man, doing this even though no one else is present to hear what is said or to read what is thought; and
  2. it reveals this thought (hence, the soul of the speaker) to others.

Christ is the Word of God in both respects; he expresses or reflects the mind of God; also, he reveals God to man (1:18; cf. Matt. 11:27; Heb. 1:3).

Robert Lightner: The Lord Jesus is the Word, the conveyor to men not only of the thoughts of God and the wisdom of God, but the conveyor of what God is.

Wiersbe:

– Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word

– He is also the Creative Word

– Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word

B.  Significance of the Word Becoming Flesh

became flesh,

Not talking about some mythical, feel-good story here;

Jesus is a historical figure – existed in time before the Creation of the World , from all eternity – but now you could see and touch and feel this Jesus

Cobb: Why did God become flesh?

– to give us an example

– to leave men with no excuse

– to enable us to relate to God; Jesus can understand us fully

– fulfillment of OT prophecy and types

– needed to become flesh in order to offer Himself as the Lamb of God

J. C. Ryle: The plain meaning of these words is, that our divine Saviour really took human nature upon Him, in order to save sinners. He really became a man like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. Like ourselves, he was born of a woman, though born in a miraculous manner. Like ourselves, He grew from infancy to boyhood, and from boyhood to man’s estate, both in wisdom and in stature. (Luke 2:52.) Like ourselves, he hungered, thirsted, ate, drank, slept, was wearied, felt pain, wept, rejoiced, marveled, was moved to anger and compassion. Having be come flesh, and taken a body, He prayed, read the Scriptures, suffered being tempted, and submitted His human will to the will of God the Father. And finally, in the same body, He really suffered and shed His blood, really died, was really buried, really rose again, and really ascended up into heaven. And yet all this time He was God as well as man! This union of two natures in Christ’s one Person is doubtless one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian religion. . .

Nowhere, perhaps, shall we find a more wise and judicious statement than in the second article of the Church of England. “The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and the manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.”

Illustration – The story is told of a little girl who cried out to her mother from her bedroom, “Mommy, I’m afraid to be in my dark room alone.” Her mother replied, “It’s okay, Honey. The Lord is with you.” She called back, “Yes, but I want someone with skin on.” Jesus is God “with skin on.” And He has come so that we never have to be afraid again.

C.  Significance of the Word Dwelling Among Us

and dwelt among us

tabernacled, pitched His tent among us

Steven Cole: John could have said, “The Word lived among us,” but instead he used the unusual word, translated dwelt, which means “to pitch a tent” or “to tabernacle.” It is used of the tabernacle in the Old Testament, where God dwelt with His people in the wilderness. John does not mean by this term that Jesus’ humanity was temporary, but rather, His stay on earth was temporary. By using the word that was used of the tabernacle, coupled with seeing Jesus’ glory, John wants us to make some connections. Just as the tabernacle was the place where God dwelt with His people and manifested His glory, so Jesus is Immanuel, God with Us. Just as the tabernacle was at the center of Israel’s camp, so Christ is to be at the center of the church. Just as sacrifices and worship were offered at the tabernacle, so Jesus is our complete and final sacrifice, and we have access to God through Him.

Every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ –

  • The bronze altar for sacrifice and the bronze laver for cleansing point to Christ.
  • The table of showbread in the holy place speaks of Christ, the living bread.
  • The golden lampstand points to Christ, the light, who illumines the things of God.
  • The altar of incense reminds us of Christ’s making intercession for us.
  • In the holy of holies, the ark of the covenant, made of wood covered with gold, points to the two natures of Christ.
  • On top of the ark was the mercy seat, where the blood of atonement was sprinkled.
    • Inside were the tablets of the law, pointing to Christ, the fulfillment of God’s law for us;
    • the jar of manna, pointing to Christ as our sustenance;
    • and Aaron’s rod that budded, pointing to Jesus as “the branch,” who was raised from the dead and gives new life to those who were dead in their sins.

Jesus, our tabernacle, “dwelt among us”!

Ray Pritchard – In the Bible three kinds of people lived in tents—shepherds, sojourners, and soldiers. They lived in tents because they never stayed in one place very long. Jesus lived in the “tent” of his humanity for 33 years on the earth because he too was a shepherd, a sojourner, and a soldier. He came to be the Good Shepherd, he came as a visitor from heaven, and he came as the Captain of our Salvation to defeat the devil once and for all. Jesus was God’s rescue mission to the human race. He came on a mission from God. When his mission was over, he went back to heaven. While he was here, he pitched his tent among us. When his time was up, he took his tent of human flesh and rejoined his Father in heaven.

MacArthur: A tent is an apt metaphor for the human body, which is a temporary home for the eternal souls of those whose real home is in heaven (Php 3:20) and who are aliens and strangers in this world (Ge 47:91Chr 29:15Ps 119:19Heb 11:131Pe 1:1172:11). Just as the tabernacle of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness was replaced with a permanent building when Israel entered the Promised Land, so the temporary tent in which believers now dwell will be replaced one day in heaven with an eternal, imperishable body (1 Cor. 15:4253–54).

II.  (:14b)  MARVELING AT THE REVELATION OF THE INCARNATION

A.  Awesomeness of the Sight of the Revelation

and we saw His glory,

How does this mesh with Phil. 2 – the laying aside of the manifestation of His glory?

Bruce Hurt quoting Vincent explains John’s use of glory in his description of Jesus the God-Man – This glory is not the absolute glory of the Eternal Word, which could belong only to His pre-existent state, and to the conditions subsequent to his exaltation (Ed: And at which no man could look at and live – see Ex 33:20-23); but His glory revealed under human limitations both in Himself and in those who beheld Him. The reference is again to the OT manifestations of the divine glory (Shekinah), in the wilderness (Ex 16:1024:16, etc.); in the temple (1Ki 8:11); to the prophets (Isa 6:3Ezek 1:28). The divine glory flashed out in Christ from time to time, in His transfiguration (Lk 9:31; compare 2Pe 1:1617) and His miracles (Jn 2:1111:440), but appeared also in His perfect life and character, in His fulfilment of the absolute idea of manhood.

MacArthur: The reference to Christ’s glory was not only visible but also spiritual.  They saw Him display the attributes or characteristics of God (grace, goodness, mercy, wisdom, truth, etc. (Ex 33:18-23).

B.  Awesomeness of the Source of the Revelation

glory as of the only begotten from the Father,

It had come to mean unique and specially beloved.

Bruce Hurt: The only begotten (monogenes) – Most modern scholars agree that monogenes does not refer to the “begetting” aspect of Jesus’ sonship, but rather to His uniqueness. As explained below NET Bible favors the translation “of the one and only.” ESV = “the only Son”, NIV = “the One and Only,” NLT, HCSB = “the One and Only Son” ESV Study Bible note – The Greek word underlying “only,” monogenes, means “one of a kind, unique,” as in the case of Isaac, who is called Abraham’s “one-of-a-kind” son in Heb. 11:17 (in contrast to Ishmael; cf. Ge 22:21216). Thus “only” is a better translation than “only begotten” (made familiar through its use in the kjv).

The glory of God the Father and of Jesus His uniquely beloved Son are the same because they are one in essential nature.

Jesus constantly points to the fact that He came from heaven where He was one with the Father to authenticate the credibility and authentication of His witness to truth.

C.  Awesomeness of the Substance of the Revelation

full of grace and truth

  • Subjective side — grace
  • Objective side — truth

Bruce Hurt:

Full”  (pleres from pleos = full, pletho = to fill) means filled up as opposed to empty (as of a hollow vessel – Mt 14:2015:37Mk 6:43). Of a surface, covering every part (leprosy in Lk 5:12). Figuratively, of one full of, filled with, abounding in, thoroughly endowed with (Lk 4:1 full of the Holy Spirit, Acts 9:36 abounding in deeds, Stephen full of grace and power Acts 6:8)

A common combination in the OT (“lovingkindness and truth” – see Ge. 24:274932:10Ex. 34:6Ps. 40:101161:7). In these two words the character of the divine revelation is summed up. “Grace corresponds with the idea of the revelation of God as Love (1 John 4:816) by Him who is Life; and Truth with that of the revelation of God as Light (1 John 1:5) by Him who is Himself Light” (Westcott).”

III.  (:15-17)  MARVELING AT THE SUPREMACY OF THE INCARNATION

A.  Supreme over John the Baptist

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said,

      He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

Remember what Jesus said about John the Baptist – Matt. 11:11 – “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist?”

Points to the eternal existence of Jesus Christ as the argument for Him being greater in rank and importance than even the greatest of the prophets.

Interesting context in Matt. 11 – the supreme revelation that we have via the Incarnation creates greater accountability on the part of those privileged to interact with that revelation.

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus issues that precious call to come to Him for salvation and discipleship – for rest and relief

B.  Supreme in its Sufficiency

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace

Superabundance of grace

Grace heaped upon grace

Image of a flowing river – new streams of grace constantly flow over us and through us

Vincent – John’s meaning (of His fullness) is that Christians receive from the divine completeness whatever each requires for the perfection of his character and for the accomplishment of his work

Hurt: grace piled upon grace, always enough no matter the need! Indeed, this is Amazing Grace!

Stedman: God has a daily supply of grace for us. Grace is the generosity of love reaching out toward us, giving itself to us. To those who come to Christ, God’s promise is that every day we can take a new supply of his love. We can know that we are loved. We know we are cherished, protected, and blessed. We are strengthened, kept, and supported by his love; grace upon grace, day after day, like the manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. So God gives us a daily supply of love. Because we have been loved, when we reach out in love to someone else, when we give as fully and freely as we have received, then we fulfill the Law, for love is the fulfilling of the Law.

Ephes. 2:7  “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus

C.  Supreme over the OT Law

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Piper: Does that mean that the law of Moses is contrary to grace and truth — that the law is not gracious and not truthful? I don’t think so. What verse 17 says is that before the REALITY — the embodiment — of grace and truth came through Jesus, a WITNESS to that reality came through the law of Moses. …The law was a witness to grace and truth. Jesus was the fulfillment not the contradiction of the law of Moses.

Hendriksen: “Our own experience as believers enables us to bear testimony with reference to this plenitude that is in Christ, for out of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace, like the waves that follow one another upon the seashore, one taking the place of another constantly.  The law, which was given through Moses, was unable to supply this fullness of grace and truth.  Though good in itself, it was unable to save.  It made demands, but did not possess the pardoning and enabling grace needed by sinners, who are confronted by these demands.  It provided types and shadows (e.g., in its sacrifices) but never the reality (truth).  This grace and this truth came through Jesus Christ, who by his redeeming life and death merited the grace and furnished the reality (truth) to which the types and shadows of the Mosaic law had been pointing.”

IV.  (:18) MARVELING AT THE UNIQUENESS OF THE INCARNATION

A.  Unique in His Role of Bridging the Gap Between God and Man

No one has seen God at any time;

Bruce Hurt: Paul writes that the essence of God is invisible = “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1Tim 1:17), “Who Alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1Ti 6:16) What Paul is saying is that no man has ever seen the very essence of God, or God in His essential nature. John is saying that the only way to see the inner nature of God is to see Jesus.

Christ solves the fundamental problem: If God is invisible and can’t be seen, how can we know Him?

  • Jesus is the perfect God-Man
  • The only Mediator between God and Man
  • The Great High Priest who is able to represent man to God
  • The Door to provide access to God

John 14:8-9

B.  Unique in His Relationship to God the Father

the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father,

What intimacy and love is pictured here

C.  Unique in His Representation of the Father

he has explained Him.”

Bring out the meaning of

  • Level of detail
  • Level of accuracy
  • Level of intimacy

Exegesis at the highest level

CONCLUSION:

Athanasius: Christ became what we are that he might make us what he is.

J. I. Packer: The Son of God… came to seek us where we are in order that he might bring us to be with him where he is.

Richard Clerke: The earth wondered, at Christ’s nativity, to see a new star in Heaven; but heaven might rather wonder to see a new sun on earth.

Carl F. H. Henry: The early Christians did not say in dismay, ‘Look what the world has come to,’ but in delight, ‘Look what has come to the world!’

This Christmas, let’s not have a Ho, Hum attitude … here is just another Christmas.

Instead, let’s be blown away with the awesomeness of the Incarnation.

Let’s marvel at how the eternal Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to fully reveal God and supply to us the sufficiency of grace upon grace that we need every moment of our lives.


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