The Word Made Flesh

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True Bible Teaching - Gods Word Explained

The Word Made Flesh

The Word Made Flesh

The Bible is the Word of God, which is why we should read it carefully and prayerfully. But "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us..."reading it is not an end in itself for it is a revelation from God to bring us to Him.

Jesus once rebuked his listeners by saying that they had searched the Scriptures, but their reading had not brought them to him, although those Scriptures are all about him (John 5:39). He was the Word or revelation of God made flesh, as John Carter now explains.

The Word of God

The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah with these words:

“Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God … The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3,5).

The gospel-writer John picks up those words in the opening words of his account of the life of Jesus when he says:

“In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1).

He is not here referring to the written Word of God – the Bible – nor to the Lord Jesus Christ as though he had existed from the beginning of time. The Greek word “logos” from which we get the word “logic” has to do with reason or thought, for any written or spoken word is the expression of the thought or reason that preceded the utterance.

But once uttered that word has power, especially if the speaker is Almighty God Himself. Thus, at the beginning oftime, God spoke “and it was done” (Psalm 33:9). God said “Let there be light” and light appeared; for every word spoken by God is effective to the accomplishment of His purpose.

Personification

So, when the apostle John said: “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God” (John 1:1), he did not mean that “the Word” was a separate personality. He meant that God had a reason for Creation, and a purpose which had been with Him from the very start of everything.

John, in his first Epistle, uses language very similar to the opening of his gospel when he says:

“The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us...” (1 John 1:2).

Here he is explaining that they have seen the risen Christ who has been given eternal life, after his resurrection, and that this life (which has now been revealed in the risen Christ) was always part of God’s gracious purpose from the very beginning. Must we give “life” a separate existence and make it a person?

No! This is personification in operation, and it helps us to understand the prologue to the gospel. For when John says that “the Word” (the logos) and “the life” were with God, it means that these attributes – logic, reason, thought, and intention of giving people eternal life – were part of God’s plan from the very start.

“The Word was God”

So what does it mean that “the Word (logos) was God”? We should express that in modern English by using an adjective for, although the Greek word is a noun, it has an adjectival value.

What John is saying is that the Word was divine. The purpose that God conceived in the beginning was a divine purpose. It was a divine thought which was then expressed in words when God revealed His gracious purpose.

The whole of the scheme He had in mind partook of the character and of the attributes of God. Just as our thinking and planning is human through-and-through, so what God purposes to accomplish is divine through-and-through.

It cannot be otherwise. But since man has sinned and transgressed, how and in what way is this purpose to be realized? Now here comes the breakthrough. We are told in the 14th verse that something extraordinary has occurred:

“The Word became 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” (John 1:14).

God’s plan and purpose which had previously been expressed in the words that He had communicated to the patriarchs and through prophets, had now been embodied in human form.

God had begotten a Son, who partook of our human nature, so that we could see what Almighty God is like by having His Son live alongside us. As a later writer would express the same thought, in different words:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2).

The Word made Flesh

John now tells us more about what it was like to have God’s “only begotten Son” (1:18) dwelling among mankind, and he uses some language which looks back to the time of Moses:

“The Word became flesh and dwelt (or tabernacled) among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The word “tabernacled” used by John is a derived from the word used to describe the display of God’s glory in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

Just as God had dwelt in the midst of His people in the Tabernacle, and the Temple, so God was now tabernacling in a man, in flesh, in Jesus Christ, through his Holy Spirit.1 John says, “We beheld his glory.”

What is the glory that was seen in Jesus? He perfectly displayed the moral attributes of the Eternal. Once, long before, Moses had asked God to show him His glory and God said that He would make all His goodness pass before him and would proclaim the name of the Lord (Exodus 33:18,19).

“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” … (Exodus 34:6).

These were the characteristics of God, and the expressions of His Name, as He revealed His character to Moses. Now, in Jesus, we have the manifestation of the Father and His glory revealed in a Son, who was “full of grace and truth”, full of all the qualities and attributes of God.God Revealed At the end of the Lord’s ministry, one of his disciples said: “Show us the Father” (John 14:8). Notice what Jesus said in reply:

“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (14:9).

To have lived with Jesus, to hear him speak and see him act was to see just what God is like Himself. We may have heard about the royal family, for example, but if one of the family came and lived with us we would get a very good idea of what royalty is really like.

Because he was God’s Son, Jesus had his roots in the Eternal. He was in a unique position to show mankind what God is really like because he was his Father’s Son:

“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him” (John 1:18).

Previously the Word of God had come through intermediaries – people who had been inspired to reveal God’s purpose, or who had been used to convey God’s law to His people. John notes the difference between a prophet and a Son when he says:

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

God was gracious in giving Israel the Law: but they had a higher and fuller grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice the change in the verbs “given” and “came”. The law was given by or through Moses: he was the channel of something “given”. But it was embodied in Jesus. Grace and truth “came” and were established as facts in him. And all this was done for man’s salvation, in order that the fullness and grace of God might be extended to all who will come into a relationship with Him. God is bringing many sons to glory through this One who is the only begotten of the Father. This is the Father’s method, and the way He has brought about human salvation. Can we wonder that the names of God are given to the Son in the prophecies, and that those who at last attain to the Divine nature are themselves described as manifestations of the Name of God?

The Divine Name

Even now we may be brought into relationship with His Name. Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

The Divine Name is expressive of God’s purpose. That name required that God should be manifested in a Son through the Holy Spirit, which is His power. That was the means whereby Jesus was brought into being (Luke 1:35); and it was then operative in raising him from the dead and endowing him with the power of an endless life. The same spirit will be operative in changing those who are born of the spirit to likeness of nature to Jesus Christ, making them all equal to the angels. There will thus be manifest at the return of the Lord Christ, a new order of immortal beings, taken out of the human race, with Jesus the Son of God as their Head.

By John Carter