The Word Among Humanity
Home Church Devotional 9/16/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. John 1:14-18 (NASB)
John has been building a case for Jesus as the Word. We were first introduced to Jesus as the Word from Eternity. The phrase “In the beginning,” would call John’s readers to the very first book of the Bible, Genesis and the story of creation. However, John has a greater purpose than reminding us about creation, in fact, John takes us to before time began and introduces us to the Logos, the Word. Greek readers understood logos to be the shaping and ordering principle of the universe, while Jewish readers understood logos would go far beyond just the spoken language and a person reason. For both, however, logos pointed to a beginning. And so, the Word from Eternity was from the beginning.
John then shifts gears to point to the Word of Creation. Yes, this same word was active in creating the universe, not just the entirety of the universe, but every single detail of the universe. No matter how large or how small, the Word of Creation made all things. Nothing, in fact, existed before the Word created! Jesus, John says, is the agent of creation, who created all things. And without Jesus, nothing, not one single thing, could exist. We learn that the Greek word for apart carries the meaning of bereave, that of being separated from a close relation because of death, and in fact, a death does occur when we are apart from Jesus. Our own death! We are created beings and without the Word we can do nothing.
In our passage today, John introduces Jesus as The Word Among Humanity. Jesus, John says, the Son of God, who was, in fact, God and was with God in the beginning, active and responsible for all created things, became flesh to dwell or live among those He created. The Greek word that John uses for dwelt means to “tabernacle” or “to pitch a tent.” Once again, John brings to the mind of his early readers the Old Testament and the tabernacle, a time when the glory of God would descend upon the tent so God could dwell among His people.
John purposely uses the word flesh, the Greek sarx, to clearly point to the full humanity of Jesus. In his first epistle, 1 John 4:3, John reminds us that anyone who claims that Jesus has not come in the flesh, does not belong to God. John has already established the point that Jesus was already the Divine Word, but now, he says, Jesus arrives on earth in the flesh! Before Christ came in the flesh, people could only know God partially, through His written word and His creation; after Jesus arrived in the flesh, people could know God fully through the revealing of God through Christ in the flesh! In Christ, God is tangible and visible.
In Christ, God came to meet with people, just as He descended upon the tabernacle of the Old Testament; through Christ, the tabernacle of the New Testament, people can come and meet with God. In becoming human, Christ became three things for fallen humanity. He became (1) the Perfect teacher – in Him we can see how God thinks and how we should think; (2) the Perfect example – Jesus is the model for what we are to become, showing us how to live and He, Himself, gives us the power to live that way; finally, (3) Jesus became the Perfect Sacrifice – Jesus is our Passover Lamb, He came as the sacrifice for all sin, satisfying the requirements of God for the removal of sin. Christ became and continues to be the PERFECT example of God in human form! Given that the Greek logos, or word, can mean “reason” and refers to anything that wasn’t flesh, to say that the word became flesh is breaking all the rules. And isn’t that exactly what God did?!
When John speaks of glory, his early readers would understand this to be shekinah glory because shekinah carries the meaning of “in the tent” or “glory in the tent.” This is Christ’s divine greatness and shining moral splendor. On the mount of transfiguration, the disciples saw underneath the simple appearance of Jesus as an ordinary Jewish carpenter, they saw the indwelling glory of God. To outsiders Jesus was no one special, but to the inner circle, Jesus was the unique Son of God, filled with the shekinah glory of God.
John also describes The Word Among Humanity as full of grace and truth. The Greek word for grace – charis – parallels the Hebrew word for “lovingkindness,” as repeated in Psalm 136 and indeed, throughout the Psalms. Grace has always been of and from God, from the Old Testament through the New Testament. However, the Greek also carries an understanding of “that which is a free gift.” The Greek word for truth used by John is alethia and it means “reality” and “genuine.” Christ is the reality and in union with Christ we experience grace and truth. By His power, we can show His life to others through our own Lives.
When John speaks of the fullness of Christ, he is using the Greek word pleroma, meaning a “superabundance” and “completeness.” John is speaking from his personal experience with Jesus, for John has never found Jesus to be lacking in any way. Within this description of The Word Among Humanity is an invitation from John to trust Jesus to meet our every need. Should we, the ones He created, not be able to trust our Creator to know all of our needs? Jesus, the Eternal Word, responsible for all that has been created, has taken on flesh to dwell among those He created.
Jesus, the Word, became flesh that He might live among those He created. In living among us, He experienced all things we, as humans experience. There is nothing that surprises Jesus about the human race. For the writer of Hebrews reminds us “…we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NASB) Yes, The Word Among Humanity was the Perfect Teacher, the Perfect Example and the Perfect Sacrifice, because there is nothing He has not experienced in His humanity that we too experience in our humanity.
Jesus Christ, The Word Among Humanity knows all you are struggling with today. Whether it is finances, employment, relationships, spiritual battles or physical health, the Word knows and understands because He too has been where you are today. Now is the time to come to the Word, for He is the Perfect Expression of God, tangible and visible, able to express the heart and mind of humanity to God and express the heart and mind of God to humanity. In Christ, God has come down to meet us and through Christ we can come meet with God. Come, meet with God through Christ, the One who has superabundance and completeness to meet every need you might have.
Amen and Amen.