WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY
Key Verse: 1:14
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
One of my Christian friends recently told me that he wants to see the glory of God. “What a noble and admirable desire he has!” I thought. I wish many of us had the desire to see the glory of God. Moses in the Old Testament had this desire. When he was leading the people of Israel in the wilderness, he was often challenged by many obstacles and felt it was impossible for him to lead the people any longer. The Lord encouraged Moses by saying, “Moses, I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses asked the Lord, “Lord, now show me your glory.” (Exo 33:18) But God said to Moses, “Well, Moses! You cannot see my face, because no one may see my face and live.”In fact, God showed Moses only his back, not his face (Ex 33:23). This was great enough. Yet, according to John’s gospel, those who believe in Jesus can see the glory of God even better than Moses. In fact, Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus as they were walking in the Garden,“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”(14:8) Then Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that Father is in me?” (14:9)
The great thing about our John’s gospel study is that through it we can see and experience God in Jesus. Today’s key verse, verse 14 reads, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”Since I became a Christian when I was junior in college in 1975, John’s Gospel has been my favorite gospel because I don’t know about you, but whenever I read John’s Gospel, I feel that Jesus is so close to me. I feel that I can almost see Jesus face to face. The more I read John’s gospel, the more I feel that Jesus is speaking to me directly and personally in my ears. I almost feel that Jesus lives in me, touching me, washing me and embracing me. In fact, we can have a personal encounter with God through John’s gospel over and over again. I am so glad that we are studying John’s gospel this year. I hope and pray that through the study of John’s gospel, all of us can see the glory of God in Jesus and that John’s gospel study this semester would be a spiritual feast for all of us.
The New Testament has four gospel narratives, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John. These first three Gospels are often called “the synoptic gospels”, which describe events from a similar point of view, as contrasted with that of John’s gospel. John’s gospel is very unique. When Apostle John wrote this gospel, he was very old and all the other Apostles were already dead and the church was under attack of severe persecutions. The rise of various heresies, especially Gnosticism, became a great threat to many believers. John the Apostle had to write this gospel in order to protect believers from the growing influence of heresies and nurture them spiritually.
The Gospel of John is considered a simple gospel, yet it is found to be the most profound gospel. As we read it, we find several key words that are constantly repeated throughout the gospel. For example, the word “love” is repeated 27 times, the word “light” 24 times, the word “truth” 54 times, the word “life” 50 times, and the word “believe” 54 times. Today’s passage, John 1:1-18, is the prologue of John’s gospel, in which we find so many key words.
Unlike the synoptic gospels, which begin with the story of Jesus’ birth as a baby, John’s gospel starts with the statement that Jesus is God.Look at verses 1 and 2. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” These verses reveal Jesus’ co-existence with God the Father before the creation of the world. Apostle John uses a special term“the Word” (Logos), which was very relevant to his Greek audience. The word “Logos” is used in Greek philosophy in various ways for a principle of order and knowledge or the concept as the highest virtue or as a personification of the divine being. Of course, John didn’t mean that Jesus Christ is merely the Logos of Greek philosophy. Rather, John might have used the word “Logos” because in Jewish religion, the Word of God is considered as God himself. The opening phrase of John’s Gospel “In the beginning” reminds us of Genesis 1:1, which reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We know that the universe was formed at the command of God’s Word. When God said, “Let there be light!” there was light (Gen 1:3). Jesus is the divine Word of God who created the heavens and earth in the beginning. Look at verse 3.“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Verse 4 reads, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” This verse teaches us the Logos – the Word – who was in the beginning is the origin and author of life and that life is the light of all mankind.It means that we, as God’s creation, can find true meaning and purpose of life in relation to the Word who was in the beginning. In other words, our life has true meaning and purpose only when we are connected to Him because we are wonderfully and purposely made in God’s image, not a byproduct of accidents.
Look at verse 5. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” There are two worlds: the world of light and the world of darkness. When we are in spiritual darkness, we are like a blind man from birth who can easily deny the beauty and magnificence of a great landscape, believing that he is ugly and has no hope at all. Many people feel that life is meaningless. Some people may feel depressed when they don’t have the sense of self-worth, self-respect and self-competence. Some people suffer with tremendous pain in their hearts because of their damaged self-image due to failures and mistakes. Others feel hopeless when their dreams are shattered. When we are in spiritual darkness, we cannot see the beauty of our life in God. But the real problem is that we cannot overcome the power of darkness unless we have the light.We need the light.
In order to bring light to this dark world, God had sent so many messengers and prophets in the Old Testament, and John the Baptist was the last prophet who testified concerning the light. Look at verses 6-9. “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”Here, the true light refers to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Jesus came as the light of the world. But most people’s response to the light was negative.
Look at verses 10-11. “He (The Word who was in the beginning) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Generally speaking, neither the world nor the Jews received the light of Jesus. The result is that they have no other choice than remaining in the darkness.
However, some receivedthe light and became God’s children through faith in Jesus. Look at verses12 and 13. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” One of the main reasons that people cannot become the children of light is that they have no power to overcome the power of darkness. The power of darkness in us cannot be overcome by our human ancestry or human effort but only by the power of God. Verse 12 says that to those who believed in Jesus’ name, God gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband’s will but by being born again, which is the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1-8). Here, the word “gave the right” can be translated as “gave the power.” In other words, to those who believe in Jesus’ name, God gives them power to overcome the power of darkness in them. The power of darkness in us may not disappear immediately but it will surely and completely disappear as we learn to trust in the name of Jesus Christ. Some people choose to remain in darkness by closing their minds to the light, perhaps because of shame, guilt or fear. We need to open our minds and let the light of Jesus shine in us.
Once in a while, I have a chance to visit the rehab-unit at the hospital where a lot of disabled patients who have difficulty of moving their arms or legs receive physical therapy. They are asked to stretch their limbs often even though they may feel initial discomfort doing so. However, through regular exercise and constant treatment, the patients can makeslow progress, and sometimes the progress can be a lot faster than expected. Likewise, trusting in Jesus can be challenging and awkward for those who are so used to just depending on themselves. They may feel uncertain and insecure about trusting in Him.But the power of darkness can be removed from us as we learn to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. In fact, the word “believe” is repeated 54 times in John’s Gospel.The main purpose of John’s gospel as stated in verse 20:31 of the book is that by believing in Jesus we may have life in his name. Therefore, I can guarantee that if we continue to study John’s gospel and learn to trust in Jesus, no one will remain in the power of darkness but everyone will be able to experience the power of God and live in the light of God. 1 Peter 2:9 reads, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”Once many of us who were apostle of darkness has become apostles of light.
Look at verse 14.“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What does it mean that the Word became flesh? It basically means that God became a man and that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. In those days, some heresies taught that Jesus Christ was not born as a flesh-and-blood man, but only appeared to be one. Some said that Jesus was an angel. But this verse clearly tells us that Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
However, the expression “the Word became flesh” seems to have a much stronger meaning than “God became a man.” The Word became flesh clearly reveals Jesus’ identification with us and his victory over the power of sin and death. Hebrews 2:14-18 read, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”The power of sin and death has absolute dominion over all fallen mankind. The Bible says that since we are dust, to dust we would return. (Gen 3:19) This is God’s curse for fallen mankind. It’s hard to see someone we love getting really old, deteriorating mentally and physically and even dying. But in Jesus we have hope of everlasting life through Jesus who overcame the power of sin and death through his resurrection. The glory of God in Jesus is not like the fire, clouds, or smoke in the ancient tabernacle. The glory of God in Jesus is the glory of the One and Only true God, full of grace and truth.
Look at verses 16-17. “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The grace we receive from Jesus is superabundant so that we cannot exhaust it. Our access to the spiritual bank account of God’s grace in Jesus is limitless. God’s grace in Jesus Christ is different from the law, which is the only the partial revelation of God’s grace because it leads only to condemnation and death. The grace in Jesus Christ is the full and complete revelation of God’s grace that is powerful enough to save us from the power of sin and death and provide us with new life of love, joy, peace and hope – especially the hope of glorious resurrection. For this, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins on the cross. God is the truth because he is absolutely good. We came to know Him and see the fullness of grace and truth through Jesus Christ.
What a great and amazing revelation of God our Lord we have in Jesus Christ! Look at verse 18. “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”Although the fullness of God’s grace is available in Jesus Christ, we don’t get to benefit from it automatically. We need to exercise our faith in Jesus. Living by faith in Jesus means living by the grace of Jesus Christ day to day. However, it’s easy for us to neglect God’s grace and remain self-reliant. As a result, many of us live a dry, lifeless and weary life, apart from God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
In this fast moving and highly demanding world, it’s easy for us to become so busy minded, as a result, we live like the children of darkness. Someone said that the word “B-U-S-Y” stands for “Be-Under-Satan’s-Yoke.” Unless we live by the grace of God day-to-day and moment-by-moment, how easy it is for us to be under Satan’s yoke. God does not want us to be spiritually dehydrated. God wants us to live an abundant life. Everything is ready. We know that we have unlimited access to the spiritual account of God’s grace in Jesus. Living by faith in Jesus means to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. We need faith and courage to make a decision to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. The more we withdraw God’s grace from our spiritual bank account in heaven, the more glory we can see and experience in Jesus. Today’s key verse, verse 14, is Apostle John’s confession of faith. He said, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”Can this confession be ours? Do you want to see the glory of God? We are invited to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ and have a spiritual encounter with God. May we learn to put our trust in Jesus so that we may overcome the power of darkness and live a life in the light of God, full of grace and truth.