INSPIRATION. EDUCATION. INFORMATION.
John 1:14 says:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This verse is the Christmas story according to John in this Gospel.
There is no mention of shepherds, nor wise men. No mention of Mary, Joseph, nor the angels. No stable, no inn, no furry animals. No details of the lives of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, or others who were so greatly impacted when Christ came.
Instead, John’s Gospel opens with taking us back to the beginning of time, when the world was created. John is making it clear from the opening of his writing, that this One who came is the Son of God – God Himself. And, that by believing in Him, we may have life in His name.
When John penned the words we read tonight, he was the last living of the 12 original disciples. Paul and all the other 12 disciples had died. Jesus’ life and work were well-known and the Gospel was being proclaimed. However, lies were being spread denying that Jesus was the Son of God and denying that He came in the form of a man. (Breath, pause) When we consider our day, we need these words that John wrote just as much.
Let’s take a closer look. This God who came near, what does He show us about Himself? How does He want us to respond?
First, what does God show us about Himself?
v. 14 John talks about “The Word”
When John is writing about the Word, “he is talking about the one true God who created all things.” (we find that in verse 1)
The Word was with God in the beginning, was God, and through whom, all things were made.
He writes plainly that this Word spoken of is Jesus, the Son from the Father.
Why call Him “the Word?” Much to say…but these words in a commentary helps bring understanding: “The Word” = “Jesus came to declare God, to tell about God.”
We use words to communicate what’s in our hearts and minds.
Likewise, Jesus fully reveals God, His character, His words, His actions.
Jesus shows us who the Father is.
(In our verse), what did the Word do? Became flesh and dwelt among us.
Dwelt among us = “pitched his tent” (made a home, a dwelling place).
For these early readers, it would have been the beautiful reminder of God dwelling among His people in the tabernacle (and later, the temple) as we read in the OT. The Lord came close to His people by instructing Moses to make a sanctuary where He could dwell in their midst (Exodus 25:8-9, Exodus 29:45).
And now, through the Word, God comes even closer.
(In the temple / tabernacle, there was still a veil that separated the presence of God from the people.
All the people did not yet have direct access to God.
Man has a problem – sin. And our sin separates us from God. Each of us share this sin problem.
But God purposed to do something about that sin problem and to make direct access to Him possible – which He did through sending Jesus, who became the meeting place of God and man.
The verse talks about “seeing His glory.” The word “glory” would have again taken the early readers back to God’s glory that was seen at the temple / tabernacle in the OT. It was the glory of the LORD that filled the tabernacle and led the people all throughout their journeys (Numbers 14:10, Exodus 40:34-38)
And, He is STILL the one among us leading us through all of our journeys. In fact, if we belong to Him, one day, the Scripture gives us this beautiful picture when all things are made new, of the Lord as the Shepherd guiding His people, sheltering them with His presence, forever with Him.
The verse brings out a note “the Only Son from the Father”
Jesus did not come into existence when he was born of the virgin Mary.
As God wants us to see plainly, this One who came was God Himself, from eternity past, and from when the world was created.
Even John the Baptist who was physically born before Jesus gives this witness in the very next verse - John declared “Jesus came before me, and was greater than me.”
It is easy to start making Jesus very small, in thinking about Him being born in a manger as a baby. But these verses lift us up out of our small focus. This magnificent view that John gives us in his writing - Jesus is the eternal Son of God –who is God and through Him all things are made.
This is the One who came to dwell among us.
I can tell you, that my view of God has become way too small. And over these past few months, I am being reminded how big God is, we cannot fully understand or describe Him. He is awe-inspiring and it’s amazingly comforting. It makes my heart’s affections for Him be re-kindled, killing my pride, and humbling me.
As we see pictures of Jesus in a manger this Christmas season, may God give us a fresh wonder of where He came from… who He is…this Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.
How did He come?
This verse says full of grace and truth.
Grace and truth = recalls the phrase we’ll find throughout the OT of God’s steadfast love and covenantfaithfulness to His people.
For more than 2,000 years since the opening of Genesis until Christ came, God did not waiver in keeping His covenant promise… He would send One to bring salvation for His people. We see this fulfilled in this Scripture:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the full revelation of God’s grace and truth.
God’s covenant faithfulness is beautifully and completely found in sending God the Son.
Stop…and consider what this means for us. The magnitude of what the Lord has done…
Sinful humanity. Living and lost in darkness. Dead. Without hope.
He, the perfect holy God, came near…
He chose to become flesh and dwell among us.
So how do we respond to this most significant act of the Son of God coming and dwelling among us?
We get the answer just two verses before – “Receive Him, believe in His name”
Receive = not just knowing in our heads the facts about Jesus, BUT welcoming and submitting to Him in a personal relationship.
Believed in = means personal trust.
His name = “refers to all that is true about Him.”
So, from the very start of John’s Gospel – a book that is RICH, that we would know the Son of God, and by knowing Him, have life in His name – John boldly lets us know:
There is life in His name and you can have it!!! Not by physical birth, not by our ethnic background, not by who our family is (or is not), not through any effort of our own, but entirely through God’s work that we can become His – born again as we’d read later in the famous words of John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, would not perish, but have everlasting life).
I heard the Gospel since I was small. It was my mom’s desire that my brother and I would know the Lord. And though she was still recovering from giving birth to me, she took me to church the Sunday after I was born where, in her love for Jesus and her desire for me to know Him, she dedicated me to the Lord in church. Her act that morning did not save me. But, through my mom’s faithful example, she took me to church Sunday after Sunday, and any event that would me help learn about Jesus. And, it was at the young age of 10, that I remember clearly understanding for the first time that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. And in sitting by my mom, when the invitation was given to go forward to receive Christ, I tugged on my mom’s arm, and let her know I wanted to go forward to receive Christ. I remember her asking me if I was sure, and I was. And that night, I received Christ and believed in His name.
It happened not because of the family I was born to, nor my background, nor any effort of my own. In God’s grace upon grace, He opened my understanding to realize my need for Him, and that night, through His work, He saved my soul and made me His child.
How about you? Have you received Him and believed in His name?
Tonight, this very night, you can. An invitation is offered to you this evening to receive Him and believe in His name.
A gift has been offered to all of us, but it only becomes ours when we receive it.
If you have never received Christ, and you sense Him offering to you that gift of Himself to you and you realize you are a sinner in need of a Savior, right now…
Pray with me….
Father, thank you for giving us Your Son. I realize I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Tonight, in this very moment, I turn from my sin and my dead, dark condition apart from You, and I receive You Jesus and believe in Your name. Thank You for coming and dwelling among us, thank You for dying in my place on the cross, thank You for rising again, and sitting right now at the Father’s right side. You are the greatest – most significant – gift I can ever receive and I do that now. In Your name.
If you have placed your trust in Jesus, or if you have other questions in how to begin this most important relationship, please, please tell someone and let us help you begin growing in a relationship with God.
Now, for all of us who have received and believed in Christ, what does this Scripture have to teach us?
We can look right before this verse, right after, and all around it, and it’s clear for us to see.
God chose to send a witness – John the Baptist - before Jesus to bear witness about Him. The apostle John makes it very clear that John the Baptist was not the light – he came as witness to the true light – Jesus. Being a witness of the true light describes us. Apart from Christ, we have no light on our own.
It’s like being the moon – who has no light on its own, but shines the light of the sun.
If we have believed and received Christ, His light and life are now in us. We are like the moon who shines His light.
When we know Christ, and his light has come into the darkness of our lives, we can like John the Baptist constantly point to Christ. It’s Him!!! It’s HIM!!! “Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”!! “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”!!
It’s interesting to see how people continued to try to figure who John the Baptist was – they wanted to lift him up and asked if he was the Messiah. You keep finding John say, it’s not me, in fact, the one who comes after me, is greater than me and was before me.
JESUS is the main character in this Scripture. He’s the main one in the story of the Bible, and in the story of our own lives.
It’s like a children’s pop-up book, when you turn pages, part of the scene pops up. In the story of the Bible, in the story of our own lives, JESUS is the pop-up on every page.
And like John, we have the amazing opportunity this Christmas, and into a new year, and for as long as we have breath, to be a witness for Christ, to point to Jesus, it’s HIM.
I don’t know if you are like me. I am sad to admit, that even in ministry and mission, in the busyness of it all, of life, I get so distracted. It’s like I begin to keep the light to myself, consumed in my own mind, and walk right past opportunities every day to be His witness, to speak of HIM. And it grieves me so. Instead, that we may clearly shine His light that others might also receive and believe Him. When we’re out, engage in conversation with people, connect…
Now, I can also tell you that I have been so busy working for the Lord, that I have missed HIM.
In preparing this devotional, can I tell you how good it has been to “stop my activity” and spend quiet time away with the Lord and His Word? I realize in all my work for Him, I have missed HIM.
I’m sure I’m not alone. Does life, family, work, ministry consume you, too? Or maybe sickness, issues, responsibilities? Or, maybe we have just given up and stopped caring? God alone fully knows.
But one thing we know, that a God who would go to such immeasurable lengths to be near us, and to make a home with us (John 14:23), and who is preparing a forever home for us, stands with a clear invitation tonight, come closer to Me.
One of my favorite things is sitting down over hot tea with a good friend and having meaningful conversation. That’s how the nearness of our God can be for us.
Draw nearer to Him, come closer to Him, go deeper still…
In response to the Word who became flesh and made His dwelling among us, I’m going to close with Psalm 73:28:
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD by refuge (my safe place, my retreat, the One where I place my trust), That I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:28)
Mercy Hill Church