“And the Word was made 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. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” ~John 1:14-18

The apostle John presses his point in John 1: 14 and following that Jesus Christ is the most unique Person in the entire universe for He is the God-man.

Jesus is the Word that was made flesh.

He is the eternal Logos that became a mortal.

Christ is the Infinite who has become Finite.

He is the Invisible that has become visible and the

Intangible that has become tangible.

The Transcendent became immanent.

That which was far off drew near.

Most importantly of all it was John’s contention that Jesus Christ was true humanity. Other biblical writers agreed. The author of Hebrews declared that Jesus remained a sinless, perfect Man for He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).

This vision of the two natures of the Person of Jesus Christ is a tremendous thought, though difficult to comprehend. “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).

As true humanity Jesus, from childhood, “increased in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Nevertheless, as true deity He was always the Son of God who commanded the forces of nature.

The Old Testament prophets wrote about Christ, the coming Messiah as being both human and divine. He was to be of the woman’s seed according to Genesis 3:15.

He was to be a Prophet like unto Moses (Deut.18: 18).

He would be a direct descendent of David as per 2 Samuel 7:12.

And, He would be a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3).

Yet the prophets also predicted the Messiah was to be the Branch of the Lord, beautiful and glorious (Isa. 4:2).

He would be called

“[the] Wonderful Counselor,

the Mighty God,

the Father of the Ages

and the Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

As Jehovah He was to come suddenly to His Holy Temple (Mal. 3:1), and so He did. He “dwelt among us,” said John. The word for “dwelt” is better translated “tabernacle”. He “tabernacled among us,” said John. Jesus “pitched” His tent, if you will, for about 33 years.

Upon hearing John’s word for “dwelt”, the mind of the Jewish Christian should have immediately gone back to the Old Testament religious structure for the tabernacle was used by Israel in the wilderness. For 40 years the nation used the Tabernacle in the wilderness as a focal point of worship during the time of their pilgrimage from Egypt to the Promised Land.

A.W. Pink observes the type and the Anti-type as he comments on the Tabernacle and Christ.

The Tabernacle was a temporary place, so our Lord dwelt with men briefly.

 The Tabernacle was for use in the wilderness. Jesus needed a body suitable for His use in this world.

By His incarnation, by His being made flesh, Jesus was able to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, to die and to set an example to follow.

Outwardly, the Tabernacle was humble and unattractive. In the flesh of Christ there was no beauty

that men should follow after Him.

The Tabernacle was God’s dwelling place. Between the Cherubim upon the mercy seat God made His throne.

Then came Christ. The Tabernacle of His person was the place where God met with man. Jesus said, “No man cometh to the Father but by me.”

The Tabernacle was the center of Israel’s camp. In like manner all of the Christian life has Jesus at the center. And when we meet to worship, it is to gather around Christ.

The Tabernacle was the place where the Law was preserved (Deut. 10:2-5). Of Christ, we hear His own words, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy Law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7,8).

The Tabernacle was the place where animal sacrifices were made. The procedure was brutal and bloody. In the Outer Court of the Tabernacle stood the brazen altar. There, animals were brought. Despite their sounds, the animals were tied down. Blood was shed and atonement was made for sin.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus cried unto God. Despite the tears and the agony of the soul, His body was still nailed to the Cross. His blood was shed, and atonement was made for sin.

The Tabernacle was the place where the priestly family was fed according to Leviticus 6:16,26. “And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the Holy Place; in the Court of The Tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it.”

For the church, Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. He is the One upon whom our souls delight to feed. 

“The Word Tabernacled among us,” said John, “and we beheld His glory.” There is a fourfold meaning to this thought of the glory of Christ.

First, Jesus Christ possesses essential glory by way of His Divine perfections. The essential glory of Christ is reflected in the fact that John says He is “the ONLY begotten of the Father.” No one else has been begotten of the Father except Christ. But what does that mean?

The Church has always taught the reference is to the deity of Christ, that He is very God of very God. The Deity of Christ is one of the great teachings of the New Testament and essential to Christian theology. If Christ were not God, then those who worship Him are guilty of idolatry, which is exactly what the Muslims declare of Christians.

But wait, the Deity of Christ is revealed by the testimony of many witnesses.  There is the testimony of His supernatural birth. He was born of a virgin. 

There is the testimony of His matchless teaching.

No one taught like Jesus. He taught with authority and superseded even the Law of Moses.

There is the testimony of His miracles. He cast out demons by the power of God. 

There is the testimony of His death.

“Truly,” said the centurion, “this man was the Son.”

There is the testimony of His resurrection.

Jesus is alive and all the universe has hope.

John is right. Jesus Christ possessed essential glory in His own personage.

Second, the glory of Christ is not only essential to His nature, but it is official. The Official Glory of Christ was manifested on the Holy Mount. In 2 Peter 1:16,17 we read of that blessed event whereby men beheld His official glory. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. “

Third, the glory of Christ is personal for He is beautiful to gaze upon. John says of Jesus that He was “full of grace and truth”. It took much grace for the Lord to appear in weakness. That Christ should choose poverty and helplessness as a babe, that Christ should choose harsh circumstances over all earthly comforts is a vivid indication of how completely He was determined to be identified with men.

But Jesus did not come to simply display grace. He came to reveal truth. There are those who do not mind the grace of the Lord, but they deeply resent His speaking the truth. The Bible says in John 6 that when Jesus spoke the truth some murmured at Him. Others were offended, and “many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.”

Why were the people offended?

Why did they murmur?

Why did many no more walk with the Lord?

Because Jesus knew from the beginning who believed not, and who should betray Him, and He said so. The Lord went on to state in John 6:65, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto Him of my Father. It takes Divine power to repent of sins. It takes a Divine act of mercy to cast oneself upon Christ having been convicted of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.” It takes a supernatural work of Almighty God to reveal to the mind the awful condition of the soul. 

There are those who refuse to face the truth of their own desperate spiritual condition. In their minds they have done no wrong. In fact, they can do no wrong. As a result, God’s grace is desired, but not God’s truth.

There is a fourth thought in our passage. There are acquired glories of our Lord. The acquired glories include the various rewards bestowed upon Jesus by the Father based upon the completed work of Calvary’s Cross. Philippians 2:9 explains. “Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.”

No wonder John cried out as he contemplated Christ, “This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was [is] before me.”

What did John mean when he said “He [Jesus] was before me?”

According to the flesh, John had been born six months before Christ and yet he declares, “He was before me.”

“John, what do you mean?”

The answer is this. John recognized that Christ is eternal. “And of His fulness have all we received.”

The word for “fullness” is another important term in this passage, for it speaks again of the Deity of Christ. This same word is found in Colossians 1:19 and in 2:9. “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Out of the fulness of Deity have all believers received. What has the Christian received? Every believer receives many marvelous gifts of divine grace. 

There is the gift of eternal life. John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

There is the gift of lasting peace. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

There is the gift of inner joy. John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

There is the gift of the precious Word of God. John 17:14 “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

There is the gift of the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”

Grace gift piled upon grace gift comes to those who love Jesus Christ and follow Him.

Returning to John 1:17 John establishes a contrast between the Law, given by Moses, and grace and truth, which comes by Christ. In developing this contrast, care must be taken not to despise the Law for the Law itself was holy, just, and good.

However, the Law was limited in what it could do by way of grace.

The Law was very strict.

The Law demanded obedience but gave no strength to keep it.

The Law required the smallest regulation to be upheld.

To violate the Law was to bring fear to the heart because punishment of some sort was certain.  If all men had was the Law, they would be without hope.  It is in infinite mercy that God gives to the world, through Christ, grace and truth. Grace is given in that a Saviour is provided who will die a Substitute for others.

Truth is given in that the heart confesses to the need for a Saviour. The honest soul says,

“I should have been crucified.

I should have suffered and died.

I should have hung upon that Tree,

But Jesus, God’s Son died for me.”

Do you know the grace of God? Have you ever admitted the awful truth that you need a Saviour from sin? If the answer is no, then on what basis to you hope to gain heaven?

By your own good works?

If by good works, where is the need for grace?

Many years ago in England, there was a place called the London Orphanage run by Dr. Barnardo. One day Dr. Barnardo was approached by a dirty, little, ragged boy, who asked for admission to the orphanage. The little boy figured that there was food and clothing, and a place to sleep in the orphanage, and he was right. But first he had to get inside. He had to be accepted.

“But my boy”, said the doctor, “I do not know you. Who are you? What have you to recommend you?”

The little child was very bright, and he held up before Dr. Barnardo his ragged coat and said,

“If you please, sir, I thought these here would be all I needed to recommend me.”

In like manner you and I stand before God. We are dressed in our pitiful rags of good works and self-righteousness all of which is as filthy garments in the sight of God. We need to get into heaven. And all we can say is “If you please, Sir, I thought these here would be all I needed to recommend me.”

We need Jesus.

We need grace, and that is the truth.

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