ATP Blog: Living Word
When I think of a word, it is either something seen on a page, or something heard via someone’s voice. The Apostle John brings a deeper and fuller meaning to The Word, especially as it relates to God.
Verse fourteen tells us, ‘The Word became 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.’
There is a lot packed into that little verse that further (from verses 1 through 13) describes The Word of God. Not only did The Word create, making it eternal, but it also shines a light on the Truth. In this verse, we find out first that The Word became flesh; this means that it is living, and is a person! We knew that The Word must be living if it/He created the world (from verse 1-3), but this verse goes further, explaining that The Word became flesh. Isaiah calls this transformation Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’ God took on human form several times in the Old Testament, in what we call a Theophany, but this instance is more special and significant. God did not just take human form, but in the other three gospels we learn that He planted Himself as a seed in the womb of a woman, and then was born as a baby! This was not a person being born, and then later becoming God, but rather God taking on human form right from conception.
If you think that is amazing, that God’s Word took on human form, the next part is even better. He came to dwell among us. This is not just God living with humans on their level, but The Word of God living the experience of being a man. Hebrews tells us that He experienced all the temptations of a man, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). God’s Word, in the person we call Jesus Christ, experienced emotions (sadness, anger, happiness), physical (pain, relief, tired, hungry).
Then, the most amazing of all, mankind got to see a glimpse of the glory of God through the person of Jesus Christ! His sinless perfection. His reliance on God through the Holy Spirit and prayer. His power over creation, sickness, and the devil. Most importantly, His selfless sacrifice on our behalf. The glory of God is revealed that we may be drawn to God, to a relationship with Him made possible by that sacrifice.
The verse then gives two descriptions of The Word. First, John calls Him the only begotten of the Father. We understand that Jesus Christ is God, and thus is not a created being, so we must understand what begotten means. John uses it later in chapter three, when Jesus describes God’s great love for mankind to Nicodemus. The word literally means only child. Jesus Christ is called the Son of God (whereas the first person of the trinity is called the Father). So, by calling The Word ‘The only begotten of the Father,’ John is making sure we understand that he is referring to the second person of the Trinity! He then says that He is full of grace and truth. This is extremely important, as we find out later in the gospel that all Christians are to follow Christ’s example. We learn throughout the Bible, old and new testaments, that God is truth. Here, and in other letters of the New Testament, it is explained that the presentation of truth must be accompanied by grace. Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, or undeserved favour. Truth without grace is harsh, and will not be well received. Grace without truth is fluff, and will not help a person grow in their faith. Jesus’ perfect example is the presentation of God in word and deed, full of grace and truth.
As I have already insinuated, may we learn to follow Christ’s example of being God’s Living Word, full of grace and truth. May it show in how we live, and in what we say.