THE WORD BECAME FLESH!
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made 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 1:1,14, KJV).
Like the womb of the morning, some Scriptural texts are especially pregnant with glory and light. These are texts in which are found Divine expressions that unlock great bodies of truth. In the revelation of God's truth, such texts are like Jachin and Boaz, the two pillars in the porch of Solomon's temple. It is as though the weight of truth was suspended upon them. The text before us is such a text.
The Word of God is first of all about a Person, and second about an "eternal purpose." God's Word delineates, or expounds both that Person, and His purpose. Upon these two pillars, the entirety of Scripture is suspended. Apart from them, no word of the Bible has any eternal relevance. Every aspect of truth is integrated into these two things. The Person is God as revealed in Christ Jesus. Through His Son, God's "eternal purpose", determined before the foundation of the world, and toward which all things are moving, is revealed and expounded. Whatever is unrelated to Christ Jesus and God's eternal purpose is unworthy of emphasis, and will ultimately pass away.
Concerning the Person of Scriptural emphasis, Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). God's "purpose" is declared to be the reason for our calling (Rom 8:28), the driving cause behind the obtaining of an eternal inheritance (Eph 1:11), and the eternal objective that is fulfilled in Christ Jesus (Eph 3:11). Peter affirms that both the Person of Christ and the purpose of God were the focus of the prophets. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet 1:10-11). Christ Jesus was the Substance of the prophesies of old. These realities will be the locus around which our consideration of this text will center.
IN THE BEGINNING
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." This is more than the affirmation of a historical fact. It is not a mere point of sound theology. This is the beginning point of flawless spiritual reasoning. It is where we collect our bearings, and gather our perspective. We do not begin with a problem, but with our God! We do not begin with a crisis, but with our God.
"The Word," in this case, is the pre-incarnate Savior. The Spirit does not move us into the realm of eternity, but back to "the beginning," when our domain was formed, and the human enterprise was initiated. It is the same "beginning" of which Moses spake: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen 1:1). We are informed that the Person of Christ existed at that time, though as a spirit. He was not "the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5) "in the beginning." He was "THE WORD." First, this affirms that the Word was no part of the creation itself. Before creation, the Word "WAS." He is, therefore, "eternal," which is the declaration of this verse. It was "the Word" that gave being to all things, for "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). This again affirms His eternality, for that One who gives beginning cannot have a derived beginning.
The term "Word" is unique, and is intended to establish that the pre-incarnate Christ was the Source of all things--the Means through which God created all things. He is the Expression of God, the revelation of His purpose, and the Initiator of his work. The "Word," however, was not subordinate to God, but was Himself God. Though a separate Person, He was a co-equal, as it were, with Jehovah God. Apart from unique Personhood, Jehovah and the Word were not divisible in any sense. They were Oneness in perfection.
The Spirit has summoned us into a high realm, where frivolity and shallowness have no place. He has taken us back to "the beginning" to show us the source and effectiveness of our salvation. The fountain of eternal life has its origin in eternity. It is not a response to the human condition, but an immutable and eternal purpose, conceived before the foundation of the world, and made known in the fulness of time. Both the purpose and the Person initiating the purpose came from eternity.
AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH
"And the Word became flesh . . . " That "the Word" COULD become "flesh" is staggering to consider. That He DID become "flesh" is greater still. This reality has challenged the most prodigious thinkers of our race. In the blazing light of this truth, a number of things can be perceived. Here we see the glory of Divine initiative. We behold the extent of God's love, and His willingness to save. We see the amazing capacity of God for longsuffering and the accomplishment of His purpose. Stand in the light of this affirmation and behold the magnitude of your salvation. Its roots are anchored in eternity past, and its fruit are seen in abundance in eternity future. The Creator willingly submitted to be "begotten," and, entering into a defiled and polluted realm, there increased "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
THE WORD BECAME FLESH, and did so voluntarily. As it is written of Him, "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God" (Heb 10:5-9). Not only did He come of His own volition, He entered into the appointed work with unparalleled zeal. Before He was "made flesh," the prophet said of Him, "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me." When His disciples beheld His aggressiveness, they recalled this Scripture (John 2:17).
What Was Involved In Becoming Flesh
Academic explanations will not suffice when handling this spiritual nugget. We must probe the Word of God itself to gain profitable insight into the Word becoming flesh. It is at once apparent that this involved stepping down, taking a lower station, and submitting to restriction. The Spirit proclaims this with powerful words in Philippians the second chapter. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:5-8). We must linger in this scared room! Here we will learn of the greatness of God, the glory of redemption, and the accessibility of salvation.
His consideration. Ponder the consideration of "the Word." He not only was "with God," He "was God." He must now divest Himself of Divine prerogatives. Though Himself God, He must now submit to a state where He is dependent upon and subordinate to God. He Who created all things will Himself be begotten .The royal robe of Deity must be laid aside, and He must take upon Himself the form of man. How does He view this remarkable humiliation? The KJV and NKJV says, "He counted it not robbery to be equal with God." The NIV, RSV, and NASV say, He "did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." Darby translates it with strength with the words, "did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God." The Spirit is depicting the Word's evaluation of having to lay aside the prerogatives of Deity. What did He think about forfeiting equality with God? The answer comes back in thunderous tones. He did not consider it robbery! He did not consider Himself to have been plundered! He refused to cling to that equality, but chose instead to humble Himself! The salvation of humanity was worth the sacrifice! The rescue of the fallen offspring of God was undertaken without any hesitancy, regret, or sorrow! He knew if God did not come down to man, man could not go up to God!
He submitted to the restriction of a corporeal frame in a polluted realm. While dwelling among us, and in anticipation of His death, Jesus said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" (Luke 12:50, RSV). The "baptism" was that of suffering. He would be overwhelmed by suffering, eventuating in His vicarious death. The KJV says He was "straitened," or held in. Later versions emphasize the effect of this containment by translating the phrase, "how distressed I am until it be accomplished" (NKJV, NASB, NIV). A restriction is referenced here that we are not capable of comprehending. Deity in confinement, and voluntarily so! Ponder it with wonder!
What He did. He "humbled Himself." He was not coerced, but voluntarily laid aside the vestments of glory in order to save us. It is written, He "made himself of no reputation." The RSV says "He emptied Himself." The NIV says "made Himself nothing." Who is capable of perceiving the greatness of this affirmation. He submitted to a state where strength and wisdom would be derived! Mark it well, when He was "the Word," His strength was NOT derived. Oh, I want you to see this aspect of your redemption! When Jesus entered into the world, He was not omniscient, omnipresent, nor omnipotent. He entered as "a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes," totally dependent--TOTALLY! He through whom God "made the worlds" (Heb 1:3), was placed under the care of Joseph. When Herod sought the life of the child, the angel of God did not warn the infant Jesus, but Joseph (Matt 2:13). A descent of this magnitude has never been conceived by any created being! From the highest to the lowest! The cost of your salvation, when seen, exerts unparalleled power upon the human spirit.
In this humbled state, the Lord Jesus RECEIVED what He needed WHEN He needed it. The repository of Deity was not within Him. He now received from the Father, and was directed by Him. He Who was with God and was God, was now dependent upon His Father. Hear Him testify. "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). "I speak what I have seen with My Father . . . " (John 8:38). "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak" (John 12:49). "Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:50). "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19). "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). These things could not be said of the Word, Who was "in the beginning," was "with God, and was God!" When He was made known to the world, the Spirit of God descended upon Him, and remained there (Matt 3:16; John 1:33). Such phenomenon could only occur to the Word made humble!
The humiliating form. The humiliation of our Lord is not found, however, in His entrance into the world as a child. It is found in His servanthood: He "took upon him the form of a servant." He was God's servant, come into the world to provide a basis for the implementation of God's "eternal purpose." He Who made all things, and for Whom all things were made (Heb 2:10), willingly submitted to a condition of subjection or subserviency. He had to rely upon God, obey God, and increase in favor toward Him (Luke 2:52). Let every soul presumptuous enough to balk at the requirement of total submission behold the Savior! See Him in a submissive state, and ponder how you will be able to stand before His judgment seat if you fail to submit to Him.
In all, of this, He did not assume the form of an angel, but of man! Scripture apprizes us that it was becoming for Him to be made like unto us, not like angels (Heb 2:10). Those who affirm "the angel of His presence" (Isa 63:9), and "the angel of the Lord"( Ex 3:2; Psa 34:7, etc.) mentioned in the Old Scriptures, refers to Jesus, are in error. Were this the case, "the Word" would have "humbled Himself" prior to being "made flesh." Whatever may be said of angels, they are "servants," in every sense of the word (Job 4:18). To have "the Word" operating in the capacity of a servant prior to being made flesh would require Him becoming a servant two times. However, His humiliation is associated exclusively with our redemption, never with the deliverance of Israel, or various appearances prior to His entrance into the world. One time humbled! One time laying aside the vestments of Deity! One time stripped of the prerogatives which were His by nature!
It was humbling to Him because He was required to lay aside the effulgence of His glory. It was, however, becoming to Him because it revealed the glory of His character, and the greatness of His love. For man to become like God is a staggering consideration. For God to become like man is more staggering! However the greatness of the distance traversed for us to be "conformed to the image of God's Son" (Rom 8:29-30), a greater distance was negotiated when "the Word became flesh," taking upon Himself the form of man. His humility was greater than ours! His obedience is more a marvel than ours! His willingness is of greater magnitude than ours!
In the world, "the Word" made "flesh." Something is involved in that enfleshment that reaches into our hearts. It is arresting to consider the extent of His experience in the body. "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb 5:8, NKJV). Of that learning process it is written, "who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear" (Heb 5:7. NKJV). Stand in the presence of such condescension, and give glory to God! This was no pretension! The Savior did not feign reliance upon God! His tears were real! His vehement cries were genuine! His fear was bona fide!
The extent of His humiliation. As if entering into the world deprived of Divine prerogatives, assuming the form of a servant, and being found in the likeness of man, were not enough, His obedience is declared. "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." While in a humbled state, He debased Himself even more by submitting to death, even the death of the cross. He received a commandment from His Father, and He was intent upon carrying it out. "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:18). He would not die an ordinary death, like Jacob, who "drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people" (Gen 49:33). He would not enjoy a gracious death like Moses, who breathed his last on the border of the promised land, while still in vigorous health, and was buried by God Himself (Deut 34:5-6).
His death would be the most grievous of all! It would be "even the death of the cross." He would not only be rejected by men, but by God. Hoisted between heaven and earth, He would endure indignities that were a reproach to any man. He would become, as it were, "a worm, and no man" (Psa 22:6). The repulsive and defiling sins of the world would be laid upon Him, and He would bear them "in His body, on the tree" (Isa 53:6; 1 Pet 2:24). There, upon that cross, God would make "Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor 5:21). The death of the cross was a death of cursing--Divine cursing. As it is written, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" (Gal 3:13). There is no human language capable of adequately describing the humiliation involved in Christ's substitutionary death.
The extent of Christ's humiliation confirms the eagerness of God to save! It declares the magnitude of our sin, and the requirement for Divine intervention. It should melt every heart, and compel us to deny ourselves, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. It was in Christ's flesh, that the sin of the world was condemned. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom 8:3). The NIV is seriously wrong in translating the latter part of this verse "And so he condemned sin in sinful man." Our sin was condemned in Christ's flesh--in His body, if you please! O, the greatness of Divine purpose! The magnitude of Divine condescension! THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH!
The reason Jesus came into the world was in order that He might DIE! Thus it is written, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death" (Heb 2:9). This is the primary reason for Him being made like unto us! In the world, men are generally noted for their life. Jesus is noted for His death. As ordinarily perceived, children are born to live. Jesus was born to die! His entrance into the world was for the solitary purpose of retrieving humanity from the fall. "THE WORD BECAME FLESH!"
AND DWELT AMONG US
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory." Though veiled, it was "the Word" that dwelt among us. With Divine prerogatives left in escrow, as it were, "the Word" tabernacled among "the people who walked in darkness" (Isa 9:2; Matt 4:16). He was not born in an isolated area, but in a city at the time of taxation, when public registration was taking place. Neither, indeed, was He raised in the wilderness, but in a city teeming with activity. It was not a wholesome city, but one out of which good was not expected to come (John 1:46). Prior to His public ministry, He was known as "the carpenter," one Who interfaced with people (Mark 6:3). Throughout His ministry, He was among the people, ministering in cities, countrysides, homes, the temple, and synagogues. He attended wedding feasts, sat with publicans, and engaged in dialog with religious leaders. He "dwelt among us," a visible, active, and accessible figure. One translation says, "He set His tabernacle in our midst." Here was the ultimate fulfillment of Leviticus 26:11; "I will set My tabernacle among you." This was a time when, as Ezekiel put it, "My sanctuary is in their midst" (Ezek 37:28). Jesus was the ambulatory Temple of God, set up among men.
By "dwelt among us," more is meant than merely being where we are. It was here that the enfleshed Word "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). He confronted the devil for extended periods, facing focused and powerful temptation (Matt 4:1-11; Luke 22:40-44). He experienced weariness (John 4:6), hunger (Matt 4:2), rejection (Isa 53:5), sorrow (Matt 26:37), inner groaning (John 11:33,38), and weeping (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). The attacks of men, Satan, and the power of darkness fell upon Him. He was identified with us in human experience, particularly as it relates to maintaining identify with God. He faced the Tempter as One stripped of Divine entitlements, and in a weakened state. He felt the downward pull of the flesh, and extended effort to resist the urge to sin. He thus triumphed over the wicked one, displaying his inferiority.
Just as He was born to die, He dwelt among us for a high purpose. That purpose relates to His intercessory work. He is our appointed High Priest, sitting at the right hand of God in our behalf. His presence there is focused in objective. He is not merely keeping the wrath of God from coming upon our heads. As our High Priest, He is ministering required resources to His people. He is mediating the New Covenant, bringing the benefits of it to those who have "received Him" (John 1:12). What is more, He is accomplishing this work as one Who is able to "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb 4:15). His heart is in His indispensable work, because "He dwelt among us." His entrance into the arena of warfare enabled Him to be a "merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb 2:17). To be an effective High Priest "for men," Jesus had to be "taken from among men" (Heb 5:1). That is one of the fundamental reasons He "dwelt among us." Our present spiritual sustenance and upholding is owing to Him being a "merciful and faithful High Priest." It was His tenure among us that so wonderfully suited Him for this ministry. He now ministers to us as One familiar with our situation. He not only has what we need, but desires to give it.
AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY
"And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." There have been times when the presence of Deity was undetected. When Jacob wrestled with an angel through the night, he awakened to say, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it" (Gen 28:16). Earlier in this very Gospel, John affirmed, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (John 1:10). Prior to baptizing Jesus, John the Baptist confessed, "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water" (John 1:31,33). Christ's true identity was generally hidden from men during his term in the flesh. As Isaiah prophesied, "And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa 53:2).
When Jesus was among men, He was not perceived with such clarity as is now possible. One time, however, Peter caught a glimpse of the Son of God. Because the Father revealed it to him, Peter saw Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). There were times when the disciples "marveled" at His power (Matt 21:20; Mark 6:51; Luke 8:25; Luke 24:41). But after Christ was exalted, they beheld Him in a fuller and more productive way. Toward the very end of Christ's ministry, the disciples still did not have a clear view of Christ. Even after His resurrection, it is said of the chiefest of them, "For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). The testimony of the disciples concerning the glory of Christ did not come until after His resurrection. Even though they were subjected to remarkable evidence, their hearts were not yet able to receive it.
Our text, however, speaks of beholding His "GLORY." The "beholding" of which he speaks is a discerning look. Even though there was a time when His true Person was not recognized, the text speaks of the occasion of its clarity--when they saw Him in a different and invigorating manner. There are at least two ways in which His glory was "beheld," or discerned.
They Saw His Glory In The Transfiguration
Three of the Apostles were granted the privilege of beholding the glory of Christ prior to His death. He took them apart for prayer, into "an high mountain apart." There, the Spirit apprizes us, "As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening" (Luke 9:29). We are told "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light" (Matt 17:2). His inner Person burst through the shell of His body, affecting even His clothing. It was like a miniature resurrection! In that state, He was more harmonious with the unseen world than with the seen one. We know this, because of what occurred while He was in the transfigured state. From the unseen world two spiritual giants from centuries before, "appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31).
Years after Jesus had ascended into glory, and shortly before His own death, Peter recalled this event. Hear his marvelous testimony. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain" (2 Pet 1:16-18). Compare this to Peter's response during the actual event. "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Matt 17:4). What is the difference between the two responses? On the mountain, Peter had beheld the glory of the Word becoming flesh, but did not comprehend it. When he wrote his epistle, the magnitude of that glory had burst upon his soul. Like Jacob, he appreciated the vision after it had occurred more than during it.
They Saw His Glory In Recollection
His glory was seen in retrospect. As the Apostles reflected upon their time with Christ, He was revealed to them in the fullest sense. Think of John's wonderful recollection of the enfleshed Word. "That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life; 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 1:1-2). This was an enlightened view! What did they see "with their eyes?" It was "That which was from the beginning"--the Word made flesh!
Mark it well, GOD WAS BROUGHT WITHIN THE RANGE OF THEIR SENSES! The God Whose judgments are "unsearchable" and ways "past finding out" (Rom 11:33), became apparent to them! They "looked upon Him" Who by nature is "invisible." This was not a mere apparition. It was not a mirage, or an imagination. Their hands "handled" Him! They saw Him as "that eternal life which was with the Father." Reflecting upon their time with Him, they saw a pattern of the Divine Nature in a body, in this world! They walked with Him, talked with Him, were taught by Him, and became acquainted with Him. They "beheld His glory!" They witnessed Divine initiative and response, Holy action and impulse!
But they beheld His glory in a unique way: as "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Not a mere teacher! Not a mere worker of miracles! Not as One who could stop the mouths of His critics, command a fig tree to dry up by the roots, and even calm a raging storm. That is not how they beheld Him! They did not perceive Him as having power over all disease, the world of demons, and death itself-- even though undeniable evidence of this power was presented to them during His ministry. They did not see His glory as one Who could multiply bread and fish, straighten a woman bowed over for eighteen years, or restore a withered hand.
Think about what I am saying! When beholding His glory, their minds were not drawn to His power to stop a twelve year old issue of blood, raise the feverish mother-in-law of Peter, or walking on a raging sea. They did not recall how He healed the deaf, the dumb, the blind, and the lamb. When they beheld His glory, they perceived Him as "the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." In Christ, they caught a glimpse of God the Father Himself! GOD WAS BROUGHT WITHIN THE RANGE OF THEIR SENSES! Here was the "fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9). This was not coincidence, "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell" (Col 1:19).
Here, in the Son of God, was the most precise expression of God. Moses articulated the Law of God. The holy Prophets declared the purpose of God. John the Baptist declaring the coming of the Lamb of God. The Apostles articulated God's great salvation. But the Son of God articulated God Himself. HE IS THE APPOINTED EXPOSITOR OF GOD! In a most remarkable affirmation, Jesus declared, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Luke 10:22). If ever men are to be brought to God, it will be through God's "only Begotten" (John 14:6). In fact, He has been appointed to "bring us to God" (1 Pet 3:18). If He is not perceived, men will not come!
"The only Begotten of the Father" not only is the Expositor of God, He has a desire to expound the Father to those who will come to Him. While He tabernacled among us, He revealed this aspect of His nature and ministry. The Holy Spirit moved Matthew to record this for our encouragement. Again, He affirmed, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Matt 11:27). Were this all we knew about the matter, it could prove discouraging! It certainly does expose the poverty of the world's wisdom and mere human efforts to know God. Is it possible to know the one to whom Jesus wants to reveal the Father?
Jesus did not leave the matter here. Remember, He is the "fulness of the Godhead bodily," and thus will reveal to us the heart of God. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30). Hear His plea! "COME TO ME!" And why so? Why should we come to Him? Because He has a desire to show the Father to us--to reveal Him to us! He knows that alone will satisfy the laborer, and relieve the heaven burdens of life. In the knowledge of God, you will find "rest for your souls." Knowing Him gives you the advantage!
FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH
You cannot improve upon this expression: "full of grace and truth." Every major translation reads this way: "full of grace and truth" (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, Websters, Darby, Young's Literal, etc.). It is rare, indeed, to find such unanimity among translators! The word "full" means more than simply filled up with. This comes from the word patroj, which means complete or full grown. The idea is that the full scope of both grace and truth are found in Christ Jesus--in both His Person and accomplishments. Here are two qualities that came in their fulness in the Person and ministry of Jesus Christ. As it is written, "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). These were among the Divine qualities revealed to Moses: "And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth . . . " (Ex 34:6). The "sweet Psalmist of Israel" also spoke of these magnificent traits in the fortieth Psalm. "I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me" (Psa 40:10-11). Again, he wrote, "He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!" (Psa 61:7). And again, "All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies" (Psa 25:10).
What is "grace and truth" the glorious attributes with which Jesus was filled? Here is the compendium of Divine power, required to meet human need. Grace to cover the past, obtain righteousness, and walk in Divine favor. Truth to uphold, illuminate, and provide a basis for fellowship. Both of these are necessary for our salvation. We must walk in the smile of God, favored and preferred by Him. Yet, we must also be in strict harmony with the truth, allowing no aspect of the Divine nature to be obscured or minimized. Until "the Word became flesh," this was impossible. Apart from the promise of God, there was not the faintest glimmering of hope. Man could not measure up to the Law, and God could not forget it.
But in Jesus, the Son of God, grace and truth were brought together in an union that was not dissolvable. In Him, the Scripture is fulfilled, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psa 85:10). This fulness is not an end of itself, but the Divinely appointed means to an end. In Christ, both grace and truth became accessible to humanity. He brought them within our reach, so to speak. Whatever is demanded to be delivered from sin is found in Jesus--and in abundance. He is "full of grace and truth." Things required to successfully resist the devil are plentiful in Christ Jesus. He is "full of grace and truth." Resources necessary to successfully negotiate the straits from earth to glory are found in rich supply in Christ Jesus. He is "full of grace and truth." Hopelessness has taken flight, as the eagle of hope has taken the place of dominance--and it is all because "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." He did not cohabit with us as a spectator, but as a concrete demonstration of Divine intent. He tasted of the dregs of human experience, in order that the supply of grace and truth, resident in His Person, might flow freely to those who embrace Him. As surely as He IS, so surely His grace and truth are accessible.
In this world, there are a variety of things with which we can become preoccupied. Under the administration of the "old serpent," men and women are being distracted to lesser things, inferior considerations. They appear noble on the surface, but they are not worthy of the place of preeminence. It is good that we be concerned for them, but they must not allowed to sit upon the throne of our hearts. Some are preoccupied with people, others with government, and some with self advancement. Still others are enamored of the church, while some are preoccupied with sinners. Such pursuits are fraught with sorrow and emotional ups and downs. The reason for this is quite simple. The pursuits I have mentioned all center in mankind. The wisest among us will acknowledge men are, by nature, erratic, inconsistent, and unstable. A house built around them will crumble to the ground!
I have become preoccupied with Jesus. My single quest is to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. The loss of all things is a small price to pay for His fellowship. I call you to a deeper consideration of the Son of God. I summon you to make Him your quest. There is no more noble pursuit, no more venerable goal, no more rewarding enterprise. You can possess the same driving compulsion Paul had. Hear his own words, and take them into your heart. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3:7-11).
But it will require all of your effort. As seasoned as you may be, you have not yet attained to the goal. Hear the Apostle once again on this matter. "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:12-14). The greatness of Christ demands a wholehearted effort. If He humbled Himself, coming so far to save me, He will surely give me power to come to Him, experience grace and truth from Him, and at least dwell forever with Him! The upward call can be fulfilled because of the Word Who, in the beginning, came down!
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