2018 01 28 am – John 1:14-18 – The Word Became Flesh

This is one of the most beautiful and profound passages in all Scripture! It summons us to know God who has given us His Son to dwell among us

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

The early centuries of the NT church were full of debates about the doctrine of the Trinity.  It was clear that the Bible taught one God, but you had Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  So how did all this fit together?

  • Well, around AD 250, a man named Sabellius taught Modalism. Modalism is the idea that there is one God who has different modes of existing.  So He either exists as Father or as Son or as Holy Spirit, but He only exists as one of these at any one time.
  • Well, another man named Arius was convinced that this was wrong. He saw that the three persons of the Trinity are separate persons who exist together.  But he taught that the Father created the Son and that the Son was partly divine.
  • So along came another man called Apollonarius who wanted to show that Jesus was eternal and fully God. But he taught that Jesus only appeared to be a human being.
  • Well, all this led to two church councils – Nicea and Constantinople. Representatives from all of the churches of the world gathered to debate these views and to wrestle with the teaching of the Bible.  And from these councils we have the Creed that we often recite today – the Nicene Creed.  It teaches that there is one God who exists eternally in three persons, and that Jesus is fully God and fully human.

Now, I have given you a 1 minute summary of around 300 years of debate.  It all sounds pretty academic, but the truth is that people lost their lives because of these matters.  Others were excommunicated from the church and imprisoned or exiled.  It is said that you could not buy fish at the market back then without getting into or hearing a debate about Who Jesus is.  So, why did we begin with this history lesson?  Why is Who Jesus Is so important?  Well, that is what we want to consider today.  We want to see why Who Jesus Is is the most important matter anyone will ever consider.

You may have heard before that you can summarize the story of the Bible with just four words – creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  This is known as the gospel with four chapters!  Ch. 1 – God created a beautiful world.  Ch. 2 – Adam and Eve ate the fruit and sin and evil came into creation.  Ch. 3 – Jesus came to die on the cross to pay the price for sin.  CH. 4 – One day He will come again and those who have believed in Him will enjoy eternal life in the new creation that is free sin and evil.  And the centre of that story is redemption, the coming of Jesus to this world.  And this passage is how John describes the coming of Jesus and its significance.

In vv1-2, John introduced us to Jesus as the Word.  We saw there that Jesus is eternally existent, that He is a distinct person from the Father, and that He is fully God.  Since then, John has spoken about What Jesus Came to Do.  But as we come to v14, John returns to the concept of Jesus as the Word that He introduced in vv1-2.  But he will now explain how the eternally existent, Second person of the Trinity, who is fully God, came into the world and why this is so important.


Now, we noted last time that there are actually two John’s at work in this part of the Gospel.  This is the Gospel of John the disciple of Jesus.  But the John referred to in v15 is John the Baptist.  So that is why our theme for vv14-18 is this: Two John’s Explain the coming of Jesus and its significance.  Three points then: First of all, John the Disciple Sings about Jesus’ Birth, then secondly, John the Baptist Testifies about Jesus’ Origins, and thirdly, John the Disciple Contrasts Moses and Jesus.


  1. So first of all, John the Disciple Sings about Jesus’ Birth.
    1. And congregation, I use the word sing because I want you to see that this is no dry, theological statement. On an organ you have a row of buttons on the top that combine to give you the different sounds an organ can make.  If you switch all of those buttons on, you get every sound the organ can make all at once.  And down below you have pedals that give volume and swell.  And when you have all the buttons on and the pedals pressed down as far as possible, you get what is called full organ.  Well, v14 is the full organ of the Bible!  John sings, “The Word became flesh”!!!!!!!


  1. We know already, from vv1-2 that the Word is the eternally existent, Second person of the Trinity, who is fully God. But at a certain moment in history, He “became flesh.”
    1. And we looked at this moment at Christmas time. Luke and Matthew give us the history of the birth of Jesus – His Mother was Mary and He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and He was born in Bethlehem at the time of the census called by Caesar Augustus and given the name Jesus, etc.  But John describes this moment with just these four astonishing words: “The Word became flesh.”
    2. Now, the word ‘flesh’ is very meaningful, but most basically it means human – the Word became a human being.
    3. And that word ‘became’ is also very important for rightly understanding who Jesus is. If you look at vv1-2, the key word is WAS; “In the beginning WAS the word.”  WAS emphasizes eternal existence.  The universe has a beginning but the Second person of the Trinity was.  But the word here in v14 is ‘became.’ And ‘became’ indicates beginning and change.
      1. Let me illustrate this with another ‘became’ example from the Bible. Do you boys and girls remember the name of Abraham’s first son?  It was Ishmael.  He was born to Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid.  Well, at one stage we read this about Ishmael, “God was with the boy as he grew up.  He lived in the desert and became an archer.”  So before this moment, he was not an archer, but now he was an archer.  Ishmael became an archer.  A key point though is that He was still Ishmael; he didn’t stop being Ishmael and become this completely new entity called an archer.  No, Ishmael was now also an archer.
      2. And it is the same here in v14 in relation to Jesus. What we are being told here is that the Word, the eternally existent, Second person of the Trinity, who is fully God, became flesh.  So before this moment, He was not a human being, but now He was a human being.  He was still the eternally existent, Second person of the Trinity, who is fully God.  That is what the rest of this passage and the whole Gospel will make plain – Jesus is fully God!  But now He was also a human being.  He didn’t stop being God and become a human instead, He didn’t become partly God and partly human, no, He added a truly human nature to His truly Divine nature.  “The Word became flesh.”
      3. Now, we don’t get this just from these four words. Other places in the Bible help us see that this is what is meant here.  We can’t look at them all, but Hebrews 2:14-17 is one of them.  There, speaking about believers as God’s children, we read, “Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity.”  The point being made there is this: Because we are human beings, our Saviour must be a human being.  And so v17 continues, “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way.”  OK?  Jesus had to have a fully human nature.
      4. And I know that this is beyond the ability of any of us to fully understand: How can this be? We simply cannot answer all the questions that we might have.  This is a wonderful mystery!


  1. But as we continue with v14, this astonishing truth gets beautifully personal. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  The point here is that His becoming flesh had a salvation purpose.  He didn’t just come, no, He came to dwell among us.  Let’s think about what that means.
    1. If we were to translate the Greek word literally, it would be that “He pitched His tent among us.” Earlier in the service, we read about the Tent of Meeting.  Later on, God gave Moses the design for a new Tent of Meeting and a courtyard and curtains and an altar, etc, all of which was the Tabernacle.  And the Greek word used here in v14 is the same word used for the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle.
      1. And what is so significant about this is that the Tent of Meeting is where God came to dwell among the people of Israel in visible form. Boys and girls, do you remember how that was described in Exodus 33?  When Moses went into the Tent to inquire of the Lord, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance.  And the people could see the pillar of cloud and they would stand there and worship.  Later, with the Tabernacle, we are told that “the cloud of the Lord covered the tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle … the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all Israel during all their travels.”  The glory cloud was the visible presence of God among His people.
      2. But it wasn’t just that God dwelled among His people in visible form over the Tabernacle. Everything about the Tabernacle communicated spiritual truth:
        1. The Tabernacle was setup right in the centre of the whole camp of Israel – Numbers 2:17.
        2. It was also where the 10 Commandments on the two tablets were, for they were kept inside the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting.
  • And as we saw in Exodus 33, it was the place where Moses would go to inquire of the Lord, so it was the centre of revelation.
  1. It was also the only place where the people were to make sacrifices for sin.
  1. Now, we will return to the significance of these things a bit later on. The main point that John is making though is that Jesus is the new and best focal point of God’s saving activity among His people.  Everything that was there in shadows and types with the OT Tabernacle is now crystal clear and brilliant and perfected and plain and better in Jesus!  And this is because God Himself, not a cloud or a vision, but God Himself has come to dwell among us!


  1. Well, we will return to these Tabernacle matters later on. But let’s consider a couple of points of application in relation to the Word becoming flesh.
    1. The first has to do with the utter humiliation of this.
      1. Just think about it – GOD becomes man!! The Creator becomes one of the created ones.  The heavenly One becomes an earthly one.
      2. Now, the Bible is clear that Jesus did not sin. Nevertheless, as a human being He was subject to the effects of sin:
  • He had a weak and frail body, just like ours, that was subject to hunger and tiredness and sickness and death.
  1. He felt pain, He felt sorrow, and He felt the hurt of those who sinned against Him.
  2. But more than all of this, He felt the weight of all your sins and my sins and the sins of all God’s people that He took to the cross. Just ponder that for a moment – the Innocent one becomes sin  And because of this, He felt the weight of the eternal wrath of God that was poured out on Him during those hours of darkness.
  3. Brothers and Sisters, “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” should fill your heart with sorrow and shame for the suffering that your sins caused Him. You should be like the tax collector that Jesus speaks about who when he was praying, “stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”  Do you know that guilt and shame?  Do you have at least some idea of how much the Son of God suffered for you?
  • What a demonstration of His love, that He would willingly come to earth to endure this suffering so that we would not have to!
  1. But a second implication of His becoming flesh is that in Him we have the perfect helper. If you could choose between someone who can just give advice and someone who has experienced the same situation that you are in, who would you choose?  9 times out 10 it will be the person who has been there and felt that.  Yes?  Well, Hebrews 4:15 speaks about Jesus as able to sympathize with our weaknesses, because He has been tempted in every way.  In your pain and hurt and turmoil, you can cry out to one who knows what it is like to be human and to be weak and to be tempted!


  1. Well, we will take up the points we have made about Jesus as the greater Tabernacle in our third point, but before we do that, let us look very briefly at v15 where John the Baptist Testifies about Jesus’ Origins. We read, “John testifies concerning him.  He cries out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.'””


  1. On Thursday of this past week it was my birthday. I turned 48.  That means I have existed for 48 years and around 9 months.  But before that, I did not exist.  And each one of you also came into existence with your conception and birth.  And this was true also of John the Baptist; before he was conceived, he did not exist.
  2. Now, John was conceived about six months before Jesus was conceived. His point here is that though he was born before Jesus, Jesus existed before him!  And this is because John understood that Jesus did not come into existence when He was conceived and born.  He always existed as the Second person of the Trinity.
  3. And this makes Jesus unique among human beings. Before Jesus was born, He lived in heaven with the Father!  And before He came to earth as a baby, He had already revealed Himself to men and woman at different times in OT history.  There are many accounts of the Second Person of the Trinity making visible appearances in the OT.  The pillar of cloud and the Burning Bush – both were the Second person of the Trinity.  And do you remember the time that Abraham and Sarah ate and drank and talked with the Lord?  That was Jesus!  Jesus Himself said to the Jews at one time, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”  “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:56).”
  4. What the two Johns are saying in v15 is that the Jesus who the people of His day heard and saw and experienced as a human being was unique because He was also eternal God!


  • So, Jesus is unique in terms of His origins for He is human and eternal God. But He is also unique in that as God and man He is the source of all salvation blessings.  And we see this in our third and last point as John the Disciple Contrasts Moses and Jesus.  And when I say Moses, I don’t just mean Moses the man, but also everything he represents: the Law, the Tabernacle, the sacrifices – the whole OT package of religion.  And this contrast starts already with the second half of v14 as we read, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”


  1. The point we have just made about the uniqueness of Jesus’ origins is why John refers to Him here as “the One and Only.” Other English Bible versions have the “only begotten,” but the Greek word used here is also used in relation to Isaac, the son of Abraham.  And Isaac was not the only son of Abraham; Ishmael was also Abraham’s son.  But Isaac was unique or ‘one of a kind.’ in that he was the son of promise, the covenant son, the son from whom Messiah would come.  And it is the same with Jesus.  The emphasis here is on His uniqueness.  God has revealed His glory in many other ways.  God has spoken through many prophets.  God has blessed His people in many ways.  But Jesus is unique in how He reveals God.  Jesus is the One and only!
    1. We see this firstly in reference to Jesus revealing God’s glory. As you read through the OT, it becomes very clear the OT people of God did not like coming face to face with the glory of God, one little bit.  You boys and girls might remember when God appeared on Sinai to give His people the law.  There was fire and thunder and the ground shook because of the presence of God.  And the people begged Moses to meet with God by himself because they were too terrified.  And when Moses did go up Mt. Sinai and meet with the Lord, we are told that His face became radiant, and that because of this the people were afraid to come near him.  Perhaps you also remember Isaiah 6 which is where Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision.  How did he react?  He said, “Woe to me! … I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”  To see God’s glory in the OT was terrifying!  But there is not even a hint of terror in these words of John, “We have seen His glory.”
      1. Turn over the page to John 2:11. Jesus has just performed His first miracle, which was to turn water into wine.  We read, “This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee.  He thus revealed His glory.”  And how did His disciples respond?  We read, “And his disciples put their faith in him.”
      2. And this is the story of Jesus’ public ministry: As Jesus walked on water and fed thousands with a few bits of bread and healed the blind and raised the dead, He was revealing the power and the glory and the love and the mercy and the compassion and the majesty of God. And He did this not to terrify people and scare them away but to attract them to Himself.
      3. Listen to John 3:17. Having just been told that God so loved the world that He gave us His One and only Son, we read, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”  Every miracle that Jesus performed, especially His own resurrection from the dead, was a proclamation of salvation.  Jesus was saying, I am God come to save you!  Believe in me!


  1. And we see this also at the end of v14 where John tells us that Jesus came from the Father, full of… what? Judgment?  Condemnation?  Punishment?  No, grace and truth.  And that phrase is drawn down into v17, where we read, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
    1. Jesus came to proclaim a message of grace and truth. Very often, people have this view that the Christian life is a life of rules and regulations that strip life of fun and joy and the good things.  Oh how wrong that view is!  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  The Christian life is the life of joy and happiness and meaning.  Jesus came to open the windows of heaven, as it were, so that salvation blessings could rain down upon God’s people!
    2. This why v16 says, “From the fullness of His grace we have received one blessing after another.” The Christian life is one blessing after another!  Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  And John’s point here in these verses is to emphasize those last two words of Ephesians 1:3, “who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Jesus Christ is the key to receiving all of the blessings of salvation.
    3. Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course Jesus spoke about hell and judgment and condemnation.  But that is only for those who reject Him and the message of grace and truth.  And if you are fool enough to reject Jesus and the grace and truth of God, then you, my friend, deserve condemnation and hell.


  1. John says, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ.” And this is not to say that there was no grace and truth in the law.  How do the 10 Commandments begin?  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  The point is that what the law does well is to reveal sin.  Just read Romans and Galatians.  But it needed the coming of Jesus for us to fully and plainly understand grace and mercy and forgiveness.  And we can illustrate this by returning to what we said about the Tabernacle earlier:
    1. The Tabernacle was setup right in the centre of the whole camp of Israel. Who is the foundation and cornerstone of the church and the centre of the Christian life?    This is the key truth of the book of Ephesians.  27 times in that Book we read “in Christ” or its equivalent.  The Christian life is about union with Christ.  Eph. 2:20 describes the church throughout history in this way: “In [Jesus Christ], the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”  Eph. 4:16 describes all God’s people as a body.  We read, “From [Jesus Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love.”
    2. But the Tabernacle is also where the 10 Commandments were kept. So, who is the only human being to have ever kept the 10 Commandments?  Jesus!  And His obedience is an essential part of our salvation; He takes our sins from us and gives us His obedience – that is how we become acceptable to God.
    3. And the Tabernacle was the place where Moses would go to inquire of the Lord, so it was the centre of revelation. But listen to what Hebrews 1:1 says about Jesus: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”
    4. The Tabernacle was also the place where the people were to make sacrifices for sin. But in Hebrews 10 we read, “Those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  But “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
    5. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of everything that the Tabernacle symbolized.


  1. So finally, as we come to v18, we see why the coming of Jesus is so important. For Jesus, the One and only; the unique One, the Son of God and Son of Man, who has now returned to heaven and is at the Father’s side, has made the Father known.
    1. For this answers the supreme question of humanity: How can we know God? How can sinful men and women approach a holy God?  How do we find Him?  How can we become acceptable in His sight?  How can there be peace between us?  How can we enter into fellowship with this God as our Father in heaven?
    2. The answer is Jesus! 1 John 5:12 puts it this way: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  It is only those who understand and believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man, and that what He did on the cross, He did for them you, who know God as their Father in heaven!  Is this true of you?  I pray that it is.


The testimony of a Jew who came to know the Father through Jesus:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sMEkGoojbg