John 1:14 – 18

The Word Became Flesh

14 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. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.1

Stop!  Listen!  God’s Word is speaking powerfully here.  What we know to be true, and have heard many times, is a very profound truth.  Nine short words that say so much.  In fact, a large part of the Christian message is contained within these words.  What are these words you say?  They are the first nine words of this new section we are studying, brief and succinct but very powerful:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

As we learned from our first study (John 1:1-5), the “Word” was, and is, one of the eternal Persons of the Godhead.  This Person, the Word, was the Agent through whom all of the created universe came into existence and became real in time and space.  And now we find out that this Eternal Word stepped into our time and space to become a real human being and to live among us.

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Theologically, this is known as the “Incarnation”, where God emptied Himself of His own divine nature so that He could take on the form of man and share in the specific culture and language of a first century Jewish person.  He came and “dwelt among us”, which literally means that He “put up his tent for the purpose of living with us.”  He wanted to become one of us so that as a Man, He would be able to help save all men.  Only as an Insider could He do this, not as an Outsider.

This is one of the most important goals we aspire to as missionaries.  Though we could never really compare ourselves to Jesus, who left Heaven to become a human, we too must be willing to leave all that is wonderful and comfortable back in our home countries to go and live among some of the poorest and most neglected peoples of the world.  This is called “Incarnational Ministry”, where we go live among the people as one of them, just as Jesus modelled for us.

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As we look at our Scripture passage above, we see that Jesus modelled much more for us as well.  John writes “we have seen His glory”, which is another way of saying, “we have seen how marvelous and wonderful He is.”  And what had those early followers of Jesus seen?  That Jesus was full of “grace and truth”.  Along with the word “glory”, we have in this short passage three of the most complex and theologically loaded words of this Gospel, and of the Bible.

According to Newman & Nida, in Section III of Apendix II, “the word ‘truth’  in this Gospel refers primarily to God himself, though it may be extended to include the revelation of God or a description of persons who respond to that revelation.”2  In other words, our passage above is telling us that Jesus had complete knowledge regarding the very nature of God the Father.  For anyone who wants to truly know God, that knowledge comes through Jesus.  And verse 18 says that in fact that is one of Jesus’ great ministry tasks here on earth, to help us come to know who God the Father really is.

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Not only did Jesus come to earth full of the knowledge of the nature of God, but it says He also came “full of grace”.  One way of translating “grace” is “loving kindness”.  Using this definition, we see that Jesus came not just to teach us the truth about God (which we so often compartmentalize on just the intellectual level), but Jesus came to demonstrate God’s loving kindness towards us.  This I think is even more important.  As they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

God wants to lavish His love upon us.  He sent His only Son (who would ultimately die for our sins) as His greatest act of love towards mankind.  So it is not surprising that in this short Scripture passage that speaks about Jesus coming to earth, and why He came to earth, that we find the words, “From His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Putting that another way, when Jesus came to earth, He came to shower “loving kindness upon loving kindness” on us.  Another Christian term is “blessings”, and so we can read this as “we have received blessings upon blessings.”  Isn’t that truly amazing?  Jesus, the unique Son of God, loved us enough to want to leave his glorious home in Heaven to live among us, to reveal God the Father to us, and to shower wonderful blessings upon us.

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My questions, dear friend, as you read this article are these: Do you know Jesus? Have you experienced His amazing love and forgiveness of your sins?  Do you want to know Jesus and invite Him into your life?  Write back to me if this is what you want and need to do in your life.  God bless you.

1  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 1:14–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2  A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John. 1980, New York: United Bible Societies

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