Advent Week Three: “And The Word became Flesh and Lived Among Us.” “We Actually Beheld His Glory, Actually Full of Grace and Full of Truth.” John 1:14-18

John 1:14-18Amplified Bible

The Word Made Flesh

14 And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception). 15 John testified [repeatedly] about Him and [a]has cried out [testifying officially for the record, with validity and relevance], “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me [b]has a higher rank than I and has priority over me, for He existed before me.’” 16 For out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift]. 17 For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father].

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

Some of us are what we might call “truth people.”

We tend to draw firm lines between right and wrong, and we feel that we have a moral responsibility to speak up when something just does not sound right.

Sometimes this is a gift because God can use us to identify sin and injustice, urging people to bring about change.

But sometimes it hurts our relationships because we can focus on the negative and be judgmental, pushing people away.

Meanwhile, some of us are “grace people.”

We gravitate toward the idea of God’s love and forgiveness, and we don’t like making a scene or creating conflict.

Instead, we try to forgive others and move on.

This too can be a gift because God can use us to bring harmony into tough situations.

But we likewise need to be very careful not to ignore serious hurts and problems that should definitely and decisively be addressed.

In the Bible we learn what God is like in the life and teaching of Jesus.

And we see how Jesus brings the practices of grace and truth together.

Jesus is infinitely compassionate—willing to unconditionally forgive the sins of all who place their faith in him.

At the same time, he is definitely not the least bit afraid to speak a hard word of of extraordinarily hard and difficult truth to bring someone deeper into faith.

At this time and season in my life, what do need from God?

At this time and season in your life, what do you need from God?

Grace extended from every which direction into every which direction?

Ceaseless, Unrelenting, Repetitive Messages of Encouragement?

Daily Unimaginable Miracles of Indescribable Unbelievable Forgiveness?

Ten thousand Words of harshest truths to set me in the right “GOD” direction?

John 1:14-18The Message

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

16-18 We all live off his generous abundance,
    gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
    and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
    all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
    not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
    who exists at the very heart of the Father,
    has made him plain as day.

“I promise I will be back soon,” a World War II soldier told his young wife before leaving her and their infant son.

Four years of war and fighting went by.

The young mother would show her boy a portrait of the soldier and say, “See, that’s your daddy. One day he’s going to come home.”

In reality, she didn’t know what to expect of the promise her husband made.

One morning the boy said, “Mommy, wouldn’t it be great if right now Daddy would just step out of the picture frame and we became a whole family again?”

In a sense that is exactly what God did 2,000 years ago.

As part of his eternal plan, he stepped out of heaven and became a man so you and I could look at Jesus and say, “That’s what God looks like.”

The apostle John described the stepping out,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 NIV).

This verse is the climax of John’s prologue as John completes his introduction of Jesus by proclaiming his humanity in the midst of his divinity.

This verse contains the truth behind the story of the angels and shepherds and their journey of witness they made to Bethlehem that first Christmas morning.

Without this singular verse the rest of the story has no meaning.

John 1:14 tells us what really happened 2000 years ago-and what it means to us today.

The key words are grace and truth.

This verse reveals four great certainties:

Jesus became human;

Jesus lived among us;

Jesus revealed his glory;

Jesus invites us to himself.

I. Jesus became human

John states, “The Word became flesh.”

Notice the link with verse one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV).

The Word that always “was” (verse 1) now became a temporal event at a point in history.

Furthermore, the Word that “was God” (verse 1c) now came into being as flesh, that is, he exists as a human being.

We often say that Jesus is God.

That is true.

But here’s an incredible statement: God became Jesus of Nazareth!

When he stepped out, Jesus Christ became the visible expression of the invisible God, He became a visual aid, as it were, to reveal the nature of God the Father.

He was God in a suit of flesh.

He was God expressing himself in a language that we could understand.

He was God announcing to the world: “I have come!”

Theologians refer to this action as the Incarnation.

This is a hard concept for us to understand.

In fact, many debates transpired in the early church as to what it really meant.

Some people said Jesus was not really a man; he just ‘looked like’ a man.

Others said he had the body of a man but he did not have a human soul.

Still others said Jesus was two people in one body-sort of half-God, half-man.

And unbelievers said it was all nonsense-that Jesus wasn’t God at all.

They claimed he was an ordinary person like you and me with a sin nature just like everyone else on planet earth.

All of those ideas are wrong.

When Jesus stepped out, the infinite God took on the form of a tiny unborn baby boy.

The Son did not cease to be God when he became a man.

He added humanity but he did not subtract deity.

He was fully God and fully man-the God-man.

Ponder that for a moment.

The Almightiness of God moved in a human arm.

The love of God now beat in a human heart.

The wisdom of God now spoke from human lips.

The mercy of God reached forth from human hands.

Jesus was God wrapped in human flesh.

Remember the story of the little girl who was frightened at night during a thunderstorm.

One dark and stormy night, She cried out to her Daddy, “Help me.”

Her Daddy in the next room said, “Honey, God loves you and will take care of you.”

Another bolt of lightning and clap of thunder caused the girl to cry out again, “Daddy!”

Her Daddy gave her the same response, “Honey, God loves you and will take care of you.”

The storm raged again and the frightened girl yelled again.

Her Daddy’s response was the same.

But then girl replied, “Daddy, I know that you love me and I know that God loves me, but right now I need someone with skin on.”

When Jesus stepped out he was God with skin on.

God became a man in human flesh.

II. Jesus lived among us

Notice the next phrase of John 1:14, it reveals the residence of God on earth, “. . . and made his dwelling among us.”

The word dwelt literally means “to pitch a tent;” or as military folks call it “to bivouac;” or as theologians define it as “to tabernacle.”

In fact, the Tabernacle was sometimes called the Tent of Meeting because it was the divinely-appointed meeting place between God and man.

In the same way-but in a significantly deeper sense-Jesus is the place where we meet God today.

Eugene Petersen in The Message paraphrases this verse,

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14 MSG).

For thirty-three years God moved into our diversity of neighborhoods.

He walked up and He walked down our alleyways streets and boulevards.

When he stepped out, Jesus lived among us.

Why?

“Pitching a tent among us” implies God wants to be on familiar terms with us.

He wants to be close to us as our skin is to us.

He wants a lot of interaction.

If you come into a community and build a huge mansion with a wall around it, you are probably saying that you don’t really want to be bothered by people.

But if you set up a tent in my back yard, you will probably use my bathroom, eat often at my table, play with the neighborhood kids.

This is why God became human.

He came to pitch a tent in humanity’s back yard so that we would have a lot of dealings with him around the campfires and firepits.

III. Jesus revealed his glory

Next John speaks of the manifestation of God’s glory: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.”

Again, Eugene Peterson rewords, “We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son.”

When John writes, “We have seen,” he uses a word that means to gaze intently upon, to study intently as under an electron microscope as in a laboratory.

It’s a word from which we get the English word theater.

The word glory refers to the visible manifestation of God’s presence and power.

It carries with it the idea of significant weight, authority and importance.

When Jesus stepped out, when he walked on the earth, people could see, gaze upon, God’s presence shining through him.

They saw the importance of God in their lives.

And, just so there was no mistake John recorded seven signs or miracles that openly declared the glory of God.

When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana of Galilee, John tells us that “He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11 NIV).

Jesus was not even minimally trying to be invisible nor was he obscure.

When you look at Jesus, you see the face of God.

God wants to be seen and to be known through his Son.

When you hear Jesus teach; you hear God teach.

When you come to experience Jesus; you experience God.

In Jesus we see God.

From my days as a Counselor for Homeless Veterans, I remember this talk:

An older man sat in my office and listened as I explained the gospel to him.

Finally he said, “I just can’t believe all that stuff.”

So I asked him, “What would it take for you to believe?”

I would believe if God came down, stood in front of me and told me himself!”

“My friend, he already has come down,” I replied.

“He came down 2,000 years ago and lived among us.

If you don’t believe that, then I have nothing better to offer you.”

“Go, and learn what that means ….!”

IV. Jesus invites us to himself

Finally, this verse ends with a powerful word of invitation.

It tells us that Jesus came to the earth “full of grace and truth.”

Eugene Peterson says he was

“Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

When he stepped out, Jesus offered grace and truth.

These are the final two great pair of words of John’s prologue as he introduces Jesus.

Grace is an irresistible compulsion to give men more than they deserve which springs spontaneously from the deep, boundless, unlimited generosity of God.

Truth, on the other hand, has roots in a divine determination to be consistent, predictable, and thereby continuously trustworthy in dealing with mankind.

Grace without truth is easily seen as sentimentality while truth without grace can appear to be an inflexible rigidity.

These two words explain why Jesus stepped out, coming to the earth.

Because he was full of grace, he died for you and me while we were yet sinners.

Because he was full of truth, he was able to pay for our sins fully, completely.

Here is the good news for people like us.

Because Jesus is grace-full, we can come just as we are to him.

We don’t have to clean ourselves up first.

Because he is truth-full, you can come in complete confidence knowing that he will keep his promises.

When he promises a complete pardon for your sins, He absolutely means it.

The one present the world needs is grace and truth.

We find it in unmatched, unmatchable, abundance in Jesus Christ.

Over and over again, I have asked alcohol and drug abusing depressed homeless veterans what is constantly pushing them to the brink of life at home or streets.

Their answer is so sadly consistent that it must have a deeper meaning than we realize.

“Oh, that’s easy …. I am just no damned good,” they tell me.

Sometimes they are hearing voices, so I ask what the voices say.

“That I am absolutely worthless to everyone including me, that I should die.”

The problem is excruciatingly real as it is excruciatingly dangerous and lethal.

The problem is minutely, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, annually, perennial.

As long as humans have existed, we have always somehow sensed that we were not something that we ought to be – and never going to be who we ought to be.

As long as we have been wounded by family, friends or strangers, or enemies we have always found a way to severely devalue ourselves, to crush our self-worth.

The ONE cure for all the fractured suffering of the human heart, all the terror we visit upon one another, all the guilt we bear with bent spines our whole lives, all the horrible, condemning voices, is the fact of grace.

Grace in its simplicity, I propose, is the greatest concept in human history.

This season, we celebrate the birth of the author of grace.

He came to Earth worthless and was born into oppression and domination.

He came to a place and people broken, and in the end was broken himself.

The author of grace was told by many that he was no good, that he was a liar, that he a drunk, was useless, deluded, demon possessed and intensely mad.

Finally, he received the ultimate rejection and insult, and paid with his life.

He was broken for the broken and hated for the hated.

He was “despised and rejected,” so that the despised and rejected would have a living hope and comforter – and yet, in all of it, he announced the cure of grace.

He told us what we already knew; that we were broken and needed repair.

He told us the repair would be free for the taking, that we were all loved in spite of the voices in our heads, hands of the bullies hurting us, words of our enemies trying their harshest to crush our spirits, cruelties of our families and friends.

In bringing us grace he changed the world.

He said that we could never do enough to be truly good; but we could share his goodness and accept the gift he offered equally.

In that one fell swoop, he negated any other contingent therapy for the misery of humanity.

No wealth or position could cure our loneliness; no rule or law could overcome our weakness; no plan or good deed could earn our healing.

Only the gift He Himself brought – Only Himself.

At Christmas, Jesus shouts down the voices in our ears with:

“You are worth absolutely everything to me!

I will make you good!

You do not need to die.

I came to do it for you.

Then you will actually, truly, genuinely, really live!”

At Christmas, the cure of grace embodied came for all.

Brokenness was broken at last.

Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God …. full of Glory, Grace, and Truth!

What are the deeper implications of this to us personally?

What are the deeper implications of this to us connectionally?

What are the deeper implications of this to us relationally?

What are the deeper implications of this to us intimately?

What are the deeper implications of this to us ULTIMATELY?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

let us Pray,

Heavenly Father, thank You that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was made flesh and came to dwell among us as the unique and only begotten Son of God, Who alone truly qualifies to be our Redeemer. Thank You that He was born into the human race as a man – fully God yet fully man – so that by His birth, life, death and Resurrection, He could become the singular substitute for the sin of the world. Thank You that by grace through faith in Him, I have been redeemed. What a wonderful loving Savior, full of all grace and all truth. To Him be all praise and glory, AMEN.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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