And 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.
In his commentary on John, the late New Testament Grant Osborne says of this verse “In my opinion, this is the single greatest sentence ever written in the history of human language, the deepest theological statement ever written. No finite human being could ever enter the realm of God and join his family. It could only come to pass if God himself were to enter the realm of humanity.”
The Word is referring to Jesus. And it says that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.
The God who created the world came into the world to save the world. The eternal God of creation became flesh and blood, skin and bone.
Jesus’ divinity matters but so does his humanity.
It is because of his divine nature that he has the power to withstand and to bear the weight of sin. Our sin is an affront to God and no mere mortal is capable of redeeming himself before a Holy God, let alone redeeming humanity.
But it also matters that Jesus is human because it is humanity that has sinned. And in being fully man, Jesus is like us in our humanity. Jesus entered sinful humanity, though he himself is without sin.
His sinlessness matters because it took a sinless, perfect, and righteous sacrifice to pay for sins. His humanity and divinity make Jesus a worthy sacrifice and atonement for sinful people.
Our verse says that the Word became flesh. God became man.
Colossians 1:19 says: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell
The glory of God came to earth through the Lord Jesus. There’s one word in particular in this verse that brings it to a climactic point in this passage.
The English doesn’t truly convey the meaning of what’s being said here. Let’s take a step back.
In the Old Testament, people originally exist in perfect fellowship with God. That’s what Eden was. It was a holy place. A perfect place. A sinless place.
Because of sin, fellowship with God was tarnished. The unencumbered closeness to God was lost due to sin.
We were no longer holy. But the story doesn’t end there. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God bringing redemption to his people.
God makes a covenant with Abraham. We see God’s continued faithfulness to his covenant.
The Israelites were held in captivity in Egypt. After God had miraculously freed them, and while the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God gave them instructions for a structure called the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent that the Israelites were to travel with and it was a symbol for God’s presence with his people.
Sometimes it’s called the tabernacle. Sometimes it’s called the tent of meeting.
Exodus 40:34-35: 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Exodus spells out very specific instructions on how the tabernacle was to be built, what types of items would be placed inside the tabernacle, etc. The instructions are so specific because it is a sacred and holy place.
Again, it represented the very presence of God in the world. But this was pointing forward to something greater.
When the Israelites entered the land, part of their purpose was in constructing the temple. As the tabernacle had been portable, the temple was meant to be permanent.
The overarching purposes were still the same. Most notably, it was where God met his people in the word. It was his presence in the world. The temple was the place where sacrifices were made.
For the priests, there were specific instructions on what they had to do to prepare to enter into the Temple It was a sacred place.
As with the tabernacle, not just anyone could go into the temple.
The priest couldn’t just go into the temple any arbitrary way they wanted. It was a holy place. The temple was completed during the reign of Solomon
1 Kings 8:10-11 says:
10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
In both places, when the presence of the Lord comes into the temple, people can’t even stand in it because the presence is so glorious.
The temple is hugely important in the Old Testament. The specific instructions for the temple are important. But this points forward to an even greater temple. To an even greater example of God’s presence with his people.
And that is the significance of John 1:14.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.
The word translated as “dwelt” more literally means that Jesus tabernacled among us, that Jesus pitched a tent among us. It’s the same word for tabernacle that was used centuries before Christ when the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek.
The true tabernacle
Jesus is the tabernacle. He is the greater temple. He is the presence of God with his people because Jesus IS God with his people.
So it’s not simply saying that Jesus dwelt among us. But rather: in Jesus, we see God became flesh and tabernacled with his people. Instead of a tent or a building, we have a person, we have God himself. The greater tabernacle, the greater temple.
And he’s greater because he’s everything these places were meant to represent. It was only the priests who could go into the tabernacle and the temple. A priest serves as a mediator between man and God. Jesus is the greater priest. It is he who restores our relationship with God.
These man made structures were where sacrifices were offered. Jesus himself is the sacrifice.
And as I’ve said, the tabernacle and the temple represent the presence of God with his people. Jesus is God himself who has come to his people. The word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The Word made his dwelling among us. He pitched a tent among us. He tabernacled among us.
The God who created the world came into the world to save the world. There was no other way for a sinful people to be reconciled to the Lord than through God himself coming into the world.
But because of his love for us. Because of his goodness. Because of his grace…
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The creator entered creation.
How do you make yourself right before a Holy God? How do you earn standing before a perfect God? How do you deserve blessings before an all powerful God? You don’t and you can’t.
God became one of us so we could be with him. He is a personal God. It doesn’t get more personal than Jesus entering his creation. Sometimes it can be tempting to doubt if God really knows what we’re going through when we’re struggling. It can be tempting to wonder if God really cares.
He knows. He knows what it’s like to live in a sinful world. He knows what it’s like to have people oppose him and not like him. He knows what it’s like to be hated for no reason. He knows what it’s like to be slandered. He knows what it’s like to cry. He knows what it’s like to be let down. He knows what it’s like to be betrayed. He knows what it’s like to suffer and feel pain. He knows what it’s like to face injustice.
It can be be easy to focus on Christ’s glory and divinity to the point where we forget his humanity. But we see his humanity in this passage. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
It’s often said of people in politics who have opinions on public policies. We feel like they can’t relate to the average person. There’s the old saying not to judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
Jesus lived a lifetime in our shoes.
Sometimes God can seem distant. He’s a personal God who invites us to know him.
He joined us in our humanity. He came to earth so that we could have heaven. He died so that we could have life. He was forsaken so we could be children of God.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Thanks for reading! If you liked this post, please share and subscribe! This article is part of a series on the Gospel of John.