The Identity of the Word
14And 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.’”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. —John 1:14-17
To the Jews in New Testament days, the term Word referred to the Word of God. The Word was the revelation that came from God. They had the written Old Testament. So the Word meant God’s revelation of Himself. It is brilliant that John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, didn’t coin some new term. His audience knew there was a Word. John made the connection: The Word is Jesus!
But because we don’t have the background, John’s language doesn’t click for us like it did in the first century. Hopefully now the point will be clearer to you when John says in John 1:14,“And the Word (the revelation of God; the rational principle by which everything exists, who is Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Isn’t Christianity revolutionary? Because Christianity says, Oh yeah, there’s a Word all right! Not unreachable or unknowable as the Greeks taught! Certainly the Source of all rational thought who created all the order in the universe. And His name is Jesus!
Jesus Christ is the Word of God who “became flesh.” That’s the headline of the Gospel—that God didn’t leave us in our sin but He came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.
Now John tells us his role as an eyewitness:“We have seen his glory.” But John means more than just seeing Jesus, the man. We saw and we recognized “his glory.”
Glory is God’s fingerprint; His signature. Glory is anything in the universe that indicates there is a God—whether it’s a beautiful mountain-scape or the stars at night or the human eye. Jesus’ life exuded glory!
John goes on to say, “Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Now notice John didn’t focus on Jesus’ love and kindness, though He certainly had those traits. And he didn’t highlight Jesus’ obvious wisdom.
John, Jesus’ closest friend, reports, “The glory of Jesus was; He was “full of grace and truth.” Nothing He did with truth diminished His grace. And nothing Jesus did with grace diminished truth. He was full of grace and truth. That’s what I’m going for every day. I’m spending the rest of my life on that point. That’s the glory of Jesus—full of grace and full of truth.—James MacDonald
- Do I gravitate more toward grace or truth?
- In what ways do I need to adjust so I’m seeking to have my life be marked by both grace and truth?
Eternal Father, it doesn’t surprise me that Your Son was full of grace and truth, because He is the exact and full image of You. Because He emptied Himself, You have recognized His special role and given Him a name above every name. I gladly bow at His feet. And while I live on this earth I want to follow where He leads, longing to have Him generate His grace and truth in my life. In Jesus’ strong name, Amen.