The Word Became Human
2 November 2014
A study in the series on the Gospel of John by John Dugas
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
We’ve seen that Jesus is fully God. He is the Creator. As such, He is absolutely sovereign over all of His creation. We should actively trust in the fact that our Lord and Savior is in total control of us, our trials, our situations, our enemies. This should be a great help to us when we suffer, when we are tempted to worry or to be afraid. But what if Jesus doesn’t care what happens to us? What if He’s indifferent to our plight? What if He lacks compassion for us?
I read something by R. C. Sproul this week that has been tremendously helpful to me. He wrote that God “loves us in the Son, and the same love that He pours out to His Son, He pours out to those who are in the Son”. God loves me with the same love that He has for His Son.
You may be thinking, “That sounds really nice, John. But how can we know that?” God has a close compassion for His people. He draws near to us with tender mercy. He visits us with gentle grace. John will tell us in today’s passage that God will flesh out His compassion by sending His Son to live among us. Jesus will celebrate the marriage of friends. He will speak saving truth to a Samaritan sinner. He will feed a hungry crowd. He will touch a man born blind and give him sight. He will visit Martha and Mary when their brother died and He will weep with them. And He will feed Peter breakfast, take a walk with him, and restore their relationship after Peter had denied Jesus.
John introduces to us Jesus who is in complete control of all things, Jesus who has a close compassion for His people. Look with me now at John 1:1-18.
John has already told us amazing things about Jesus. As God the Son, He has always existed. He is fully God. He created everything. And yet, there’s more. This amazing God cares for us deeply.
Message: John shows us how God fleshed out His compassion for His people. First,
I. Our eternal God became human (John 1:14).
Our eternal God who created us, became one of us. This same Word who was forever with God became human. He took to Himself the very flesh that He had created. Distinct from His divine nature He took on human nature. That’s what John means by the Word becoming flesh. Jesus was a real human being. He was real. He was in the flesh.
Now it is important that we understand that God the Son added humanity to His deity but that event did not change His divine nature in any way. We know that as God, Jesus does not change (Heb 13:8). We can understand this phrase became flesh as “He took to Himself humanity”. Flesh here simply means “human nature” and not sinfulness. Jesus was without sin (Heb 4:15).
John uses words that take our minds back in time to the wilderness generation that came out of Egypt. He tells us that Jesus dwelt among us. The verb dwelt comes from the word for ‘tabernacle.’ It means ‘to pitch a tent’ or ‘to dwell temporarily.’ He pictures for us God living among men in a tent. Do you recall how the book of Exodus ends? When they had finished building and setting up the tabernacle, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40:34). God came to live among His people.
So during Jesus’ earthly life, God’s presence was again among men for a limited time. In the OT tent, “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex 33:11). Jesus is called Immanuel: “God with us” (Isa 7:14). God cares about His people enough to live among them.
Not only did Jesus dwell among His people, but those like John who were with Him beheld His glory. John still has us thinking about Ex 40:34-35 when God filled the tabernacle. God’s glory filled the tabernacle such that Moses couldn’t enter. As an eyewitness, John testifies that they saw the splendor of Jesus lived out before them. Glory would include Jesus’ transfiguration. But I think it also refer to Jesus’ entire ministry (John 2:11) which reached the high point of glory on the cross.
This glory belonged uniquely to Jesus. Older translations call Him the only begotten. However, this word, monogenes, indicates that Jesus was unique as God’s Son. It doesn’t mean “only-begotten.” It is from two words “only” and “kind” or “species.” So it means “one of a kind, only or unique.” It was used of the widow of Nain’s only son and Jairus’ only daughter. It was also used of Isaac as Abraham’s son in a unique sense (Heb 11:17). Isaac was the only son given by divine promise.
And so Jesus has no equal. Jesus is unique as Son. No other son is like Him. He has eternally existed with the Father. He is of the same essence with the Father. Although we become God’s children, we do not share in His divine nature. The Trinity doesn’t expand as people become God’s children.
Coming from the Father, Jesus was full of grace and truth. Grace is God’s compassion for people. Notice the context. God’s compassion is a close compassion. God the Son drew near to the people so He could bring them grace. Jesus was not stingy. He came with an abundant supply of grace. Truth is the ultimate revelation about God. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) but He also came endowed with abundant truth about our God. John next demonstrates how Jesus’ compassion in dwelling with us is greater than two spiritual leaders who lived among God’s people.
II. Jesus is greater than John the Baptist, the greatest prophet (John 1:15-16).
John the Baptist was a great man of God because he bore witness of Jesus. But John was the first to testify that Jesus was greater. John declared “He existed before me.” In His humanity, Jesus was younger than John the Baptist. However, John knew that Jesus existed in eternity past. So John concluded that Jesus has a higher rank. Jesus surpassed John because He was by nature greater than John. But look at another way in which Jesus was superior John 1:16
What does it mean to have received of His fulness? Jesus is the source of all our blessings. How do we know that? The writer explains that what all believers have received fully is grace upon grace. Literally, he says that we’ve received “grace in place of grace”. In Jesus we have a continuous supply of grace. Jesus’ storehouse is inexhaustible. He sends us one blessing after another.
Recently, we were in San Diego at the beach watching a group of boys surfing. They swam out a ways and waited for waves that would be right for surfing. One wave would come. If they missed it, there was always another one shortly behind it. So it is for God’s people. In Jesus we have “one blessing after another” (NIV). When one supply of grace ends, another is quick on its heels!
Again, what is grace? Grace is the totality of God’s spiritual goodness, kindness, favor toward us who believe. It is His close compassion and care. Think about Lam 3:22-23, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.” What inexhaustible resources are ours in Jesus! His compassion shall never run dry!
III. Jesus is greater than Moses, the great lawgiver and friend of God (John 1:17-18).
God’s Law being given to Israel through Moses was a tremendous blessing and privilege. It revealed to them God’s standard of righteousness. But Moses couldn’t give the people the ability to obey that righteous standard. Sinful men and women can never keep the Law perfectly. So, the Law pales in comparison to grace and truth given through Jesus. Now grace is not lawless. Jesus gives us truth—revelation about how to live and He gives us the grace to obey it.
The Law keeps making righteous demands on us but grace continues to supply the help we need to obey. We cannot keep the Law except by God’s endless supply of grace.
Another way in which Jesus is superior to Moses is found in v. 18 [read]. God used to speak with Moses face to face, the way a man speaks to his friend (Ex 33:11). What man could boast of anything greater? While there were those who saw God in a sense (Isa 6:5; Ex 24:9-11), John could still say that no man has seen God at any time. No one has seen God’s essential nature.
Well, there IS a man who did claim to have a more intimate relationship with God. He is the only begotten God (monogenes). This is better translated, “the unique God” or “the one and only God.” Who is this? It is Jesus. John closes his prologue the way he opened it, by saying that the Word is God. Jesus is unique because he shares the deepest, most intimate relationship with the Father. Their relationship is so close that John describes Jesus as in the bosom of the Father.
Because Jesus has such an intimate relationship with the Father, John writes that Jesus has explained the Father. We get our word “exegesis” (study and preparation for teaching) from this word explained. It means to interpret or explain. Jesus the unique Son, is the official and only “exegete” of the Father. In Jesus, the invisible nature of the Father is displayed to us. How could Moses be a better “exegete” of God when He has not seen God the way Jesus has seen the Father?
I want us to come away with two things from today’s passage. We should add to the absolute sovereignty of our Lord Jesus the truth that He cares for us deeply. He has drawn near to us to save us and to provide wave after wave of gracious help. He wants to be among His people. He wants to help us in our troubles.
The second thing we should take away from this is that we should imitate God’s close compassion. Liberals take the easy route, just throwing money at people’s needs. Let us not fall into the modern trap of trendy ministry to the poor. Like God, we should draw near to people so that we’ll know their real needs and then provide help. Let us imitate God by drawing near and giving real help.