Study Notes 1-29-12: John 1:14

1:14 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.

  • John makes it crystal clear that the Word (Jesus) became a man.  This is the most concise statement we have in the Bible on the doctrine known as the “Incarnation.”
  • Morris and others talk about how John was seeking to dispel the Docetists who thought that Christ could not possibly have taken on a human body.
  • The fact that he “dwelt among us” tells us that He had to live here with us, twas part of His plan. The author of Hebrews tells us, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:14-18).
  • The “glory” that John is referring to almost always is thought to be an oblique reference to the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8). But it can also be tied back to the word for “dwelt” which is “tabernacled” and would have denoted in the Jewish mind that time in which the glory of God would dwell inside the tabernacle during their father’s wanderings in the desert (Exodus 40:34).
  • This glory that was dwelling among the people during the times of Moses had a special name.  When it directly referred to the refulgence and splendor of God it was called the Shekinah glory.  Shekinah means “dwelling” and was used as a way to say that God was dwelling with His people.
  • There are parallels between Moses and Jesus. Moses was certainly a type (or foreshadowing) of Christ.
  • Why did Christ have to dwell among us?  He had to dwell among us because He had to live a perfect and sinless life.  He had to be a perfect and spotless sacrifice.  He also had to be human because it was the sins of humanity that were being atoned for.  However, no one human man could be a perfect sacrifice, only God could take on the task, yet only a man could pay the price for what a man had done.  So that is why Christ had to be both fully God and fully man.
  • Why did He have to have a human body and be born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit?  Well, even though He was fully human, He would not have the inherited sins of the flesh.  That is an important distinction to make because this is the reason for the Virgin Birth.  When Christ was born, He was like Adam in the garden: a perfect, sinless human being.  And that is why we call Him “the Second Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45-47).
  • Theologian Wayne Grudem makes the point that Christ would not have inherited a fallen nature either from Mary or Joseph.  He was obviously not fleshly son of Joseph (so to speak), but the real mystery lies in why He didn’t inherit any sin from Mary.  Grudem explains, “The Roman Catholic Church answers this question by saying that Mary herself was free from sin, but Scripture nowhere teaches this, and it would not really solve the problem anyway (for why then did Mary not inherit sin from her mother?). A better solution is the say that the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary must have prevented not only the transmission of sin from Joseph (for Jesus had no human father) but also, in a miraculous way, the transmission of sin from Mary: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you…therefore the child to be born will be called holy’ (Luke 1:35)”
  • Doctrinally, two of the most important things we can look at with regard to Christ’s humanity are the atonement and justification.  We need to be fully justified (legally right with God) for our sins otherwise we could never stand before a holy and righteous God.  This can’t take place rightly without a perfect atoning sacrifice.  Church Father St. Anselm of Canterbury explains, “And this debt was so great that, while it was man alone who owed it, none but God was able to pay it. So he who paid had to be both God and man…so that man, who in his own nature owed the debt but could not pay, might be able to do so in the person of God.”
  • Theologian R.C. Sproul puts it this way, “Christ’s redeeming work includes not only His death, but His life. His life of perfect obedience becomes the sole ground of our justification. It is His perfect righteousness, gained via His perfect obedience, that is imputed to all who put their trust in Him. Therefore, Christ’s work of active obedience is absolutely essential to the justification of anyone. Without Christ’s active obedience to the covenant of works, there is no reason for imputation, there is no ground for justification.”

How do we teach this to our children?
EXAMPLE:  We learned today that God’s Son Jesus came to live with men and had a body just like you and I do.  He felt pain, and happiness and got bruises on his knees just like you and I do.  Why do you think Jesus had to be born and become a human/man? (so He could die for our sins – God can’t die, and yet only a God-man could pay for the sins of so many people) It is a good thing for us that God came down to earth to become a man, because this way He knows our feelings, our pain, and what it is like to live here on the earth.  Jesus is with God in heaven and because He knows our pain and difficulties, He talks to God the Father for us.  He asks God to help us in our difficult times.  This is very reassuring!  It shows how much Jesus loves His children – and we are His heavenly children because God has adopted us into His family.

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