I’ve Seen the Face of God! (John 1:14-18)

 

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I have good news. It turns out the bad news we’ve been hearing about marriage for the past 30 years is a myth. We’ve been told, for example, that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and that the divorce rate of churchgoers is as high as those outside the church. And yet, according to a new study and book released by Shaunti Feldhahn and Tally Whitehead, two social researchers who have been conducting a scientific study of the subject for the past 8 years, it turns out that 72% of everyone who is married today is still married to their first spouse, and even if you’ve been married before, the chances of your present marriage succeeding increases by 50% if you attend church together. That’s why their book is called The Good News About Marriage, because it means that getting married is one of the best decisions you can make in life!

Just think, for example, of what you gain when you get married. The Bible says the two become one, which means a second person is added to the equation with strengths you don’t have and completing you in a way no friend ever could. For example, when I married Cheryl, I gained a person who is kinder and more sensitive than I with years of experience as a pastor’s daughter, which I did not know I needed at the time, because I didn’t plan on being a pastor. But God had other plans for me and gave me the ideal wife not only to work beside me in ministry, but a great money manager who stretched every cent of the modest salary I made as a pastor, kept us out of debt, is the best mother our girls could have had, and is a beautiful companion who has added incredible joy to my life the past 44 years. I got the whole package when I married her.

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Some of you are probably wondering where I’m going with this. After all, aren’t we studying the Gospel of John? We are! That’s why I’m emphasizing the benefits of marriage, for that’s the picture the Bible paints of our relationship with Christ. It likens it to marriage calling Jesus our Heavenly Bridegroom, and we the Church His Bride. And the moment we’re united to Him by faith, we instantly gain everything that was lacking in us. We share His glory, we receive His grace, and God enters our lives for the first time. These are the benefits John describes in today’s study—John 1:14-18—five verses that could change your life forever! And like every verse in this book, they’re intended to accomplish John’s purpose stated in John 20:31, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Let’s read the passage. Then we’ll see what it means. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John (the Baptist) testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Again, our question is: What are the benefits of meeting Jesus? The first answer is—

  1. You Share His Glory.

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The last two weeks our study has focused on the Word or Logos, which in Greek philosophy was the principle on which all of creation rests; to the Jew, on the other hand, it was the revelation of God contained in the Holy Scriptures, both of which are true in part. But here John reveals something new and surprising. The Word is not an impersonal force or a writing; it is a Person, the Eternal Son of God who, according to verse 14, “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” To understand what this means, notice 3 key words with me.

The first is “flesh” referring to the weakest part of our personality. This is the part of humanity of which Jesus warned, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Paul added, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing.” So how could God become a man? The Greeks said He couldn’t. The body is too corrupt and God is too holy for the two of them to come together.

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By the way, there are Christians today who believe the same thing, that Jesus couldn’t possibly have had the same kind of body as we. He must have had a perfect body like Adam before he sinned. But that isn’t true. To take our place as our Savior and sympathize with us as our Great High Priest, Jesus had to be like us in every way, except one. He was without sin. I mention that because sometimes you’ll read in one of those books by someone who claims to have visited heaven that Jesus appeared as a bright light leading them through a long tunnel to heaven. That’s nonsense! John says the Word became flesh, at which point Divinity and humanity were forever fused together in One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is now and forever fully God and fully man. His humanity never diminishes His Deity nor does His Deity ever overpower His humanity. He is now and forever 100% God and 100% man.

That means when you see Jesus in heaven, He’ll look like He looked when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. He’ll have a real human body that you can see and feel and hug—a body which is fully human and yet glorified and without sin—just like the bodies you and I will one day enjoy.

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The second word is “dwelt.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The word is skenoo which means “to pitch a tent or set up a tabernacle.” What does that bring to mind? John is alluding to the Tabernacle in the wilderness where God first dwelt with His people. Yet like many objects and events in the Old Testament, the Tabernacle with all its offerings and furnishings was intended to picture the coming Christ who dwells, not in a tabernacle made by hands, but in a resurrected and glorified body.

In fact, one of the things we learn when we study the Feast of Tabernacles is that  Jesus probably was not born on December 25, when most of the world celebrates His birth, because it’s unlikely shepherds would have been out in the fields keeping watch over their sheep with snow on the ground. Instead, given the fact that John the Baptist was born 6 months before Jesus during the Feast of Passover, it’s likely that Jesus was born in October during the Feast of Tabernacles. Wouldn’t that be fitting? For the Light of the World to be conceived at Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and pitch His tent among us during the Feast of Tabernacles!

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But the most profound word is “glory.” “We beheld His glory.” The first time His glory was seen was as a blazing fire called the shekinah glory, hovering over the Old Testament Tabernacle. Shekinah means “His presence,” which was so glorious that no one could enter the Tabernacle until it subsided. John says that was what he saw in Jesus. “We saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The most obvious time was when he, Peter, and James were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. Suddenly His body was transformed before them, and “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light,” so that they all fell down before Him in fear. In fact, it was so glorious that Peter was still talking about it 30 years later in his epistle to the churches. “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales,” he says, “when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of His majesty…when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

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Nor was it only on that occasion. It was something they witnessed every day. For example, on the next page Jesus will perform His first miracle by turning the water into wine, and John will say, “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” Nor was it only in His miracles that they saw His glory. They also saw it daily in His words, His wisdom, His teaching, and the brilliant manner in which He answered the perplexing questions that were perpetually asked of Him. To quote the temple guards who returned to the priests empty-handed, having failed to arrest Him as they were sent to do, “No man ever spoke like this man!”

But it was seen most of all in His kindness, compassion, and love. This week I read the story of an early pioneer in the treatment of catatonic schizophrenia, one of the most severe forms of mental illness. Day after day patients would lie curled up in the fetal position on their beds, neither moving, speaking, or acknowledging anyone else existed, until a new doctor moved onto their ward. There he set up his cot and lived among them. Sometimes he’d even take off his jacket, crawl into bed, and gently wrap his arms around them. Often that one wordless expression of love was enough to bring them back to the world of the living. So in Christ, God moved into our world and dwelt among us, dying on a cross for our sins. “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

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And that can’t help but change you! In Moses’ case the skin of his face glowed with the glory of God after spending time in His presence, so that he had to put a veil over his face, so the people wouldn’t be afraid of him. But in our case the change is even greater. The Bible says one day it’s going to change us completely and forever. 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him just as He is.” But we aren’t to wait until then to change. If we love Him, we’ll let His glory begin changing us right now. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” What do you get when you meet Jesus, then? You share His glory, a glory that He has shared with the Father since before time began.

(Join us for the second part of this lesson, as we enjoy the second benefit of knowing Christ – You receive His grace.)

2 responses to “I’ve Seen the Face of God! (John 1:14-18)

  1. What a great privilege to marry my spouse twice! I was actually thinking of that minutes before I read this article. To honor your spouse in my humble opinion is only second to honoring the Lord as best I can. 🙂

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