“The Word was Made Flesh”
“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.”
Have you come to Christ? Have you beheld his glory? Are you numbered among those who can say with John, — “We beheld his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Incarnate Word
First, the Apostle speaks of the incarnate Word. If there is any verse in the Bible marked with the special emphasis by God the Holy Spirit, surely this is one. Every word is of immense importance. Here is the glorious person so highly spoken of in the preceding 13 verses of this chapter. The Word is declared to be “made flesh.” The Son of God was “made flesh.”
The word translated “flesh” is very strong. The same word is used in Romans 3:20, where we are told no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the law. In Romans 8:3 Christ is said to have been made “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” The word here translated “flesh” has the same significance as the Hebrew words used in Genesis 6:12 to speak of “corrupt” flesh. John could not have used a stronger, more emphatic word to speak of our Savior’s great condescension and humiliation in assuming our nature. Had John merely said, “the Word was made man,” the meaning would not have been so emphatic a declaration of degradation. (Philippians 2:5-8).
“The Word was made flesh!” — The Son of God was made what we are, made to be our full nature, body and soul, a complete man. He who is God became man. He did not cease to be God; but he took our human nature into union with his divine nature, so that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and Man, the God-man, our Mediator. “The Word was made flesh,” as Augustine put it in the 4th century, “Not by changing what he was, but by taking what he was not.” This union of God and Man in one person is indissolvable and forever. Jesus Christ our Savior, our God-man Mediator, is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
I have no idea what the length, breadth, height or depth of what I am about to say is; but I cannot help linking these words to those of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:30. — “The Word was made flesh;” and “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones!” So is it now, so it has been in all ages of time, and so it shall be forever.
The Favored People
Second, this text describes a favored people. — “And we beheld his glory.” Who are these favored people? They are an elect people, a chosen company. The Lord Jesus said, “I know whom I have chosen.” He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” He came unto his own, and his own received him not; but they who did receive him are described as people who were “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The elect in Christ’s day, though they were but a small remnant, nevertheless did exist. There were but few who followed him; but there were a few who followed the Lamb whithersoever he went. The “we,” then, who “beheld Christ’s glory,” were a chosen company. So it was then, and so it is now. Thank God for his electing love. Those who behold his glory are those who were chosen from eternity to behold his glory (Acts 13:48). And those who behold his glory here shall behold his glory forever in the world to come (John 17:24).
Those who behold Christ’s glory are a graciously called people. We behold his glory because we have been specifically called by him to behold his glory. — “He calleth unto him whom he would” (Mark 3:13). — “He calleth his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). It is written of those he delivers from going down to the pit, “His life shall see the light” (Job 33:28). — “Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3). — “They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God” (Isaiah 35:2). The Son of God calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. If you and I behold Christ’s glory, it is because he has called us to himself; and that call is the result of his election of us unto salvation.
Those who behold his glory are also a divinely illuminated people. If others do not see what we see, and we are as blind as they by nature, our seeing his glory must be because of something he has done for us, and not because of anything in us or done by us (2 Corinthians 4:6). “Blessed are your eyes, for they see!” — None believe in Christ but those who are his sheep. No man comes unto him except the Father who sent him draws him, and none ever perceive him but those whose eyes are opened by his own healing fingers. Do I behold his glory? If so, it is because he chose me, he called me, and he illuminated me by his grace.
The Thing Revealed
Third, look at the thing revealed. — “We beheld his glory.” — “We beheld.” The text does not say, we heard about his glory, we read about his glory, but “we beheld his glory.” What a privilege that is!
This is much more than a physical, carnal vision of the Lord Jesus. Many saw him with the eyes of their heads, who never saw him with the eye of faith, who never beheld his glory. And many today behold him with the eye of carnal reason, who never behold his glory, because they do not know him and do not behold him by faith, having him revealed in them by the Spirit of God. When John says, “We beheld his glory,” he is saying the very same thing Peter said when he wrote, “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” (2 Peter 1:16). He is talking about that which he, with Peter and James, beheld on the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ was transfigured before them. They saw him as he now appears in heaven, glorified with the glory he had with the Father before the world was. They saw the Lord Jesus Christ as the sinner’s Substitute, who accomplished redemption by his death upon the cursed tree (Luke 9:28-31).
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