The Incarnation of the Word

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

The Word, which we have learned, was distinct from God and at the same time was God, became flesh. The Word, who has always been, became flesh at a certain time and in a certain place. God becomes a physical man.

Notice the difference in how John puts this. When talking about the Word preciously, he said that he simply “was” indicating that He was eternal and was not created but He created everything that was created. 

But here the text says He was made or He become. So, there is clearly here the idea that there was a time when the Word was not flesh and in time He became flesh.  And the understanding here in God becoming flesh is that He does not cease to be God when He becomes flesh. 

The eternal Word became human. So you have the God-man. God and man are joined in one person.  Yet never confounded and never mixed. His human nature does not overpower His divine nature, His divine nature does not overpower His human nature. They are both perfect and distinct and indivisible and yet unmingled and unmixed.

The deity of Christ is not diminished by His humanity nor is His humanity enhanced by His deity. He is fully man, fully God. Or very man and very God. 

What we know is that the Word being made flesh was not the same as our birth. He was born to a virgin and conceived in the virgin by the Holy Spirit. 

His flesh was not a pre-fall flesh but was a post fall flesh. We know that because He lived and grew and died, and that is a factor of the fallen condition.  

If He was not in the form of man after the fall, He would have no ability to understand our weaknesses and our infirmities and be tempted in all points as we are tempted and come out as a sympathetic high priest.

So He is truly human in the sense that we are human in the post-fall realm – with one exception: no sin. He is without sin – holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, without sin forever. Paul tells us in Second Corinthians 5, He knew no sin.

John says that the Word became flesh and then He says, “and dwelt among us”. This dwelling means to pitch your tent. He brought His tent to us and He settled down in our world. For thirty-three years, He lived in our world, took on the form of a man, came and became one of us. 

We know from Biblical testimony that He grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and man. God was on earth in human form and lived among human beings, specifically the Jewish people. He did this for 33 years. This is a historical fact. 

Those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh, those who deny that the Son of God was an actual man, those that deny that the Word was God are spreading not just error but heresy, and they don’t know God. God in human form dwelt with us.

The Motivation of John the Baptist

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

What would motivate John to only be a testimony of the Light? What would motivate John to become small? What would motivate John to point people away from himself and to the Light? 

The answer, I think, is that because of sin, and wickedness, and unbelief,  and the rebellious nature that marks the human race, seeing the light is the only hope. 

The problem with the world is that it does not know God. It is not that the evidence is not there, but the truth is suppressed by sinful man. If any man sees God, it will only be by the true Light. No man can see God, if they do not recognize the Light. 

The reason being is that they do not want God. God sends the Light, He was in the world, the word that was made by his hands, and the world knew him not. The Light shined into the darkness and the darkness comprehend it not. 

He came to his own, and his own received him not. The light came, but he was unknown, unrecognized, and unwanted. 

What then is the motivation? The motivation is that no-one sees God, no-one knows God, no-one receives God without the Light. 

But what good is a testimony of the light if man cannot and will not see it. 

How then is anyone saved? How does anyone see? How is the testimony helpful?

The answer is in verse 12. But as many as received him. There is a distinction made here. The world rejects the Light but some, a few, receive him. The world rejects the testimony of the Light but some, a few believe. 

What is it that enables some to believe while others continue in their rejection? Faith is required for believing and receiving the Light. Faith requires us to receive the Light, as it is testified of. In the Light is Life and Life is not found in any other place but the Light. 

The power or the capability to receive the Light is given to us by God. We are granted power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. We are not by nature the sons of God. The right or the authority to that privilege is given to us by God alone. 

John The Baptist came to testify of the Light so that men might believe and receive life through the Light. The Light is largely rejected and refused but some do see the Light, some do believe on his name, and some do receive the power to become the Sons of God. 

How does that happen? 

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

By a birth! The seeing, the receiving, the becoming the sons of God, and the believing on his name is all now summarized into one reality. A spiritual birth!

The power to externally become sons of God comes from an internal work of birth from God. 

Spiritual life comes from a new birth: a new life infused into us so that we are able to see, believe and live like the children of God. We are born of God.

Let me ask you a question? Who took the initiative in our physical birth? Our parents did.

God takes this same image to show that it is God that initiates our salvation. We entered into our earthly families because we were born of our parents and we enter into the spiritual family because God created new life in us to do it. 

I am afraid there are a lot of people talking about the new birth that really don’t believe in a new birth. 

We do not believe because we were physically born into a certain family. It is not by blood. Spurgeon said that sin runs in the blood but grace does not. You are not a child of God because you are physically born a Jew.

We do not become the children of God because we do certain rituals or deny ourselves certain things. Salvation is not in stopping doing things and starting doing other things. You’re not born again because you decided to stop one thing and start going to church. 

Then John says, we are not born again by the will of man. Salvation is not accomplished by the exercise of your will. You’re not saved because as a Gentile, you decide to become a Jew by keeping the law and being circumcised.  It is not your making a decision, filling out a card, or by walking an aisle, or saying a prayer. 

There are countless people who are living ungodly lives thinking they are saved because they made a decision and raised their hand when their VBS teacher asked them if they wanted to go to heaven. 

There are countless people who think they are saved because when the preacher asked them at a funeral to make a decision to raise their hand if they wanted to see so and so again, they did. 

Salvation is a supernatural event and it cannot be caused by natural means or else it ceases to be supernatural and we really don’t have to be born from above. 

People are saved, people receive the Light, people become sons of God, and people believe on his name because of God. It is the gift of faith in response to God’s Word!

Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God. 

John wasn’t called to save anyone! He was called to testify of the Light so that men might believe but it is God who must do the saving. 

The Message of John The Baptist

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

Let’s look quickly at the witness of John The Baptist and see what constitutes a faithful and reliable witness. 

Notice the first the content of his witness

John The Baptist came to bear witness of the Light. John does not come with a message of certain doctrinal beliefs, he does not come to share dispensational charts, he does not come to show them the path to personal success or self-fulfillment, and he does not come to encourage them in the way of enhancing their lives. He come with one message, just one message and just one goal of the message. He has come to point us to the Light so that that we might through him believe. 

John The Baptist was sent to do one main thing and that was to testify of the Light. 

Then notice, the character of his witness.

He was not the light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. John’s testimony was void of himself. 

The problem is when we tell our story, it has too much of our story in it. 

John deliberately directs attention away from himself and what he was doing to the Light and what He would do. 

John’s witness was not talking about himself. 

There is no one saved by your story. They are saved by the Light. They don’t need to believe your story. They need to believe the Light. 

The testimony must not center on our experience but on the facts of the realty of the Light. We are not to shine our own light but His light! 

John the Baptist was not the light, he was only a reflector of the Light. 

Then thirdly, the conclusion of his witness.

The goal of his witness is that all might believe.

John was not building his own kingdom but he was pointing toward another. John was not interested in getting a following but was directing everyone to the Light. John was not trying to get a people who agreed with a certain doctrine. John was desirous that people saw and believed the Light.

What we know is that the ministry of John The Baptist, which was highly thought of and highly followed, began shutting down, when the ministry of the Light began. In fact, the life of John The Baptist would come to an end after he completes his assignment of being the witness of the Light. 

The Mission of John the Baptist

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 

I heard a preacher who spoke from these verses and basically communicated to the church that they were to be like John the Baptist by paving the way and smoothing the way so that Christ can advance. That sounds good but it is not the intent of the passage. That makes it about us, doesn’t it and this is not an attempt to describe us. It is a description of the Word. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Notice that John was sent by God. The word sent is the Greek word that means to dispatch someone for the achievement of some objective.

So, I’m pretty sure that God has a special and specific mission for John the Baptist that is not transferable upon us. If you will remember that the birth of John the Baptist was miraculous. He was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth who were well past child bearing age. But we see here that John as sent by God. God enabled Zechariah and Elizabeth to physically birth John. 

Verse 7 tells us that the purpose of John being sent by God was to be a witness. He will be the confirmation and will attest on the basis of personal knowledge. He will bear witness to the truth of the light that has come into the world so that men through the Word might believe. 

God not only sends the Word but God sends a witness to the Word. The reason being is that witnesses are essential in establishing any claim to be a fact. Of course, the witness needs to be credible, so that we are bound to accept it as true. 

When did John The Bapitst first know Jesus was the Light? When he was in his womb and Mary came to visit Elizabeth carrying Jesus in her womb and John The Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb. 

So, the witness of John The Baptist, who is absolutely credible, constrains us to believe his report. The reason God sent John to bear witness to the truth of the Word’s light and life for men is so that we would more readily believe. So, John The Baptist is not sent for Christ’s sake but for ours. 

So, we have a man that is witness to events of history. John witness events that actually happen in a particular place and a particular time. This light and life has come the earth at a certain time and John The Baptist is witness to it. 

What the darkness can neither comprehend nor overcome, John has been sent to testify of. 

The Perpetual Radiance of the Word

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

If the Word gave life to all things then it stands to reason that He is the source of life.

Scientists are traveling to far away planets trying to to find water because they say that water is the source of life. Water is not the source of life, the Word is the source of life.
A planet can have a vast supply of water and if the Word has not provided life, there will be no life.

The Word is the source of life for deadness and light for darkness. The creative account in Genesis falls into these two categories—light and life.

Now notice this life and light are qualified as life and light to men or mankind. It is not physical life and light, God has already created that and man already has that but it is spiritual life and light that man does not have.

Who needs spiritual life? Spiritually dead men! Who needs spiritual light? Spiritually blind men!

So, there is no life outside of the Word and there is no light outside of the Word. Whoever the Word is, we are still pretending we don’t know.

The Word invigorates and the Word illuminates.

Deadness is the absence of life and darkness is the absence of light.

The Word brings life and shines, present tense, is shining light into darkness but it is not understood, it is not grasped, it is not attained.

The Word is not recognized as being such by spiritually dead and blind men.

But thank God, the darkness cannot overcome the light. Darkness only remains in the background and is only visible where there is no light.

It is the not only the presence of light that is at issue here but the penetration of that light to those it illumines.

Are we getting an idea of whom John is referring to as the Word? He is the eternal Word, He is the Word that is in intimate relationship with God, He is the Word that is very God, He is the Word that is the agent in which all things are created and sustained, and He is the source of life and light and while his light may not be understood, it cannot be ultimately overcome.

That is sounding a lot like Jesus Christ. But John is going to give us even more clues as he moves forward in this Gospel and we will look at those next week, Lord wiling.

The Powerful Responsibility of the Word

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made

Now we know the Word is a person because John now uses a pronoun, him, to refer to Him.

The Word is the agent by which all things were created. The Word has created everything.

So, the Word which we have seen is eternal and exists before time, now takes place in time and functions as the author of creation.

If the Word has created all things and not anything was made without him, we know that the Bible says that God spoke and it was created out of nothing. God said, Let there be light, and there was light and so on. So, again we see the Word is truly God.

The Word of God is not an empty sound, but a dynamic action, a mighty creative or destroying power. God’s speech is his activity.

The Word is God’s agent through whom creation actually comes into being. The Word is the divine and personal agent in creation. He is not less than God, whatever His relation to the world may be.

Creation is not the solitary work of the Father, the Word, or the Spirit but it is the cooperative work of the Trinity. All three involved in the creative order.

The actual idea here is that all things were created through the Word and nothing was created that was not created through him.

The divinity of the Word is proven here by the divinity of his works. Only God can create. Man is unable to bring into existence a single blade of grass.

Notice again, all creation is created through him so he cannot be a created being. He is before all things, he is also the originator of all things. The Word has created all things and the Word sustains all things.

The Positional Revelation of the Word

and the Word was God

The Word has eternally existed, in intimate fellowship with God and now John turns that diamond and we see that the Word was God. 

The Word is divine in nature. 

God was “the Word”

How can the Word be with God, near God, in fellowship with God and at the same time be God? How can the Word be distinct from God and also be God? 

The church struggled for centuries getting this exactly right. 

When John says the Word was with God, he meant that the Word was with the Father and the Spirit and when John says that the Word was God he means that God is a triune God, one God in three persons, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. 

John speaks of one God in three distinct persons.

Notice how John uses the definite article “the” that signifies a singular noun. He does not say the Word was the God but simply the Word was God. The absence of the article before God allows God to be plural. 

The Jehovah witnesses translate this to mean “the word was a God.” They miss the truth of one singular God made up of three persons. 

Whoever the Word is, we are pretending we don’t know, we do know now that He is fully God. By being God, the Word therefore, is is all powerful. Whoever the Word is, the deeds and words of the Word are the deeds and the words of God.

The Personal Relationship of the Word

the Word was with God,

The Word was continuously in the presence of God. There was fellowship between the Word and the other persons of the Godhead before the world was made. 

The idea was that the Word was by God, near God, or toward or unto God. 

By saying that the Word was with God, John is making a distinction the Word has from God. The Word has a certain existence of His own. 

There is a separateness being made clear between the Word and God.

The Word dwelt with God and was in eternal fellowship with God. 

There was a particular intimacy between the Word and God. The Word is oriented toward God. They are perpetually running towards one another. 

We may begin to conclude then that “the Word” is a person, with God but distinguishable from God, and enjoying a personal relationship with God. 

The Word has always had a deep personal relationship with God. This is a unique intimacy the Word enjoys with God. 

The Preceding Reality of the Word

Someone said, “The gospel of John is a pool safe enough for a child to wade in and deep enough for an elephant to drown in. 

The German Reformer, Martin Luther said, “Should a tyrant succeed in destroying the Holy Scriptures, and only a single copy of the Epistle to the Romans and the Gospel according to John escape him, Christianity would be saved.” 

We are so familiar with Scripture that we read these verses and they don’t move the needle very much. We take the truth of the Scripture for granted. I want you to try to imagine you know nothing about Jesus Christ. Imagine you are trying to understand the identity of the Word that John is explaining in this passage. Let it soak and let John logically work this out. It is only when the whole story is told that we will be able to understand what these words mean.

The title John gives here is “the Word.” The Greek word translated here “The Word” is the word logos. It signifies the communication of God. It is the revealing of God’s mind, his heart, and his will. It is the presentation of God and it is the proclamation of God. Whatever “the Word” is it is revealing to us God. This is God’s speech. It is a divine expression.

His Word created the world and in doing so he reveled Himself to the world by the creative Word. So, everything in creation reveals to us God. What man could not see or apprehend of God by himself, God has reveled to man by the Word. The Word in what makes the incomprehensible God comprehensible. The Word makes thoughts that are  inaudible, audible. 

John seeks here to put everything we are going to learn about who “the Word” is under this umbrella this divine expression of God. The Word has come to show us who God is, including the redemptive love God has for the world. 

Listen to Isaiah 55:9-11, “9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please,and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

What we can know in how God’s Word is used in the Old Testament is two-fold. Firstly, God’s Word is sent by God to accomplish a particular purpose. Secondly, God’s Word is unfailingly accomplishes this purpose.

Whatever John is describing here by the title “the Word” we know it is the manifestation, the communication, and it is the revelation of God. The Word is sent by God to accomplish a particular purpose and it always accomplished that purpose. 

One writer said that John was like a man holding forth a diamond for us to view who, after the initial awe-imspiring presentation, begins to turn the stone so that all its facets might be admired from various angles. 

So, let’s see how John turns this diamond:

1 In the beginning was the Word

The word was. The word did not become but was before anything was created. The Word is not from the beginning but in the beginning.

Matthew takes us back to Abraham and Luke takes us back to Adam but John takes us back to eternity past and the Word was there. 

The Word transcends all time and all things. 

This In the beginning wording refers to the opening words of Genesis 1:1-“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” That is the beginning John is referring to here. 

In the beginning, when everything created came into being, the Word did not come into being, He already was in being. 

When nothing was there, the Word was already there. 

The word “was” speaks of being continuous. The Word did not at any point come into existence, There never was when the Word was not. The Word continued to exist in the beginning. 

Everything we see today, at some point came into existence. There was a time when what we see did not exist. But there was never a time when “the Word” was not. When everything began, he already was. 

The Word has not beginning. As John uncovers his subject, whatever “the Word” refers to it precedes creation and was not part of creation. The Word is eternal.

 No matter how far you go back, the Word was already.

What God Does FOR You, He Does IN You!

5 — Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. –Philippians 2:5-8

Theologians call it the hypostatic union. Jesus Christ was both divine and human. He was both God and man. Equally God and man. Not 50/50 but 100 percent God and 100 percent man. 

It is important for us to know that and to believe that. But Paul tells us here in this text, what Jesus did with this hypostatic union of Godliness and humanity. What was the point of Jesus being God and man?

Paul says that He humbled himself. He lowered himself. The word humbled means for someone to lose prestige or status. It means to be humiliated. It what was done to slaves. They lost everything and became nothing. 

As we look back at verse 3 we see the context of that word humble. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

That is what Jesus did. He lowered himself, He humiliated Himself, He lost everything including His life because he esteemed us better than Himself. 

So, the King of King and Lord of lords, becomes a servant or a slave. A slave to whom? To us! To you and to me. Jesus lays aside His status to serve us. He counts us more significant than Himself. He is counting us worthy of His suffering and worthy of His death. We are not worthy of it but He esteemed us to be. 

As Jesus goes to the cross, that was the direction His mind was running. In His mind, He was humbling Himself, esteeming us better than Himself, serving us by suffering for us and dying in our place.

Paul also tells us that Jesus became obedient. 

This obedience of Jesus is not to us but to the Father. The humiliation of Jesus, the lowering of Himself, esteeming us more significant than himself, becoming a servant to us, suffering for us, and dying for us all was done in obedience to the will of the Father. 

So, what happens on Good Friday is the Father and Son in union and harmony do that which is necessary for our salvation. What happened Friday on a hill outside of Jerusalem was the culmination of the covenant made between Father and Son to save a people that include you and me. 

The whole life of Jesus Christ is summed up in the word “obedience.” From His first breath at Bethlehem to His last breath on the cross, He humbled Himself in obedience. 

Jesus was found the fashion of man, humble and obedient, so that in chapter 3:9, we can be found (same Greek word) in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

So, Jesus takes what is not His, our sins, and gives to what is not ours, His righteousness. 

The righteousness which is of God is the obedience of Jesus Christ from birth to death. So, it is by this one man’s obedience that those who were made sinners by one man’s disobedience are made righteous. 

Notice that Paul makes sure that we understand that Jesus’ obedience ending act of obedience was not a normal death. It was death on the cross. It was the worst kind of death. It was torturous death. It was painful death. It was shameful death. It was a hard death. It was an excruciating death. 

Christ did not die in his sleep. He did not die by lethal injection. He died by the cruelest death known to man–the cross. That was the degree of  His humiliation and that was the level of His obedience–even to the cross. 

In other words, His humiliation can be now lower and His obedience can be no higher. 

God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. There is no greater love because there is no greater level He could humble Himself and no greater obedience He could render. 

But the point of the passage is this: It is that same mind, the mind of Christ had toward us, that we are to have for one another. We are to humble ourselves, lower ourselves, become slaves to one another as we count each other worthy our our service.

It is the same mind, the mind of Christ had toward His Father, that we are to have toward the Father. We are to be in obedience to Him, obeying Him sacrificially in everything. 

That is what it means to be a person who has both human and divine natures. That is what it means to be a believer. That is what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

That is what it means to be indwelt with the Spirit of God. That is what it means to be like Christ. That is what it means to be really saved. To humble ourselves to the lowest point and serve other and to be obedient in all things to the Father. 

Don’t miss the truth here: What God did FOR us is also what God does IN us.