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Sometimes in life there are things that occur that will steal your attention. From an amazing play at the end of a game, a marriage proposal, or seeing someone you love after you have been away from them. When this happens, ordinary moments turn into incredible memories that stay with you for a long time.  In the life of a Christian, though, there is no greater realization or moment that someone can have than to see and take in the glory of Jesus Christ. When I talk about the glory of Christ, I mean this: that Jesus Christ is supremely great. Jesus is honorable and deserving of praise as the perfect God of the universe. In fact, the Apostle John gets to the bottom of this when he speaks about Jesus in the Bible when he refers to him as the Incarnate Word, a title only identified with Jesus. Understanding what John means by the Incarnate Word is fundamental to much of his writings. Even more so than this, is having an understanding of how Jesus shows the Glory of God to us.

            First off, it is best to understand what John means by referring to Jesus as the Word (John 1:11 John 1:1). It is certainly beyond humankind’s understanding as to all that the “Word” entails. In John’s usage, we see that he uses it to describe the one who is God, who has existed eternally, and is the creator, and truth. When coupling this understanding of the Word with “Incarnate”, we see that Jesus is God in human form. This is an idea thatJohn 1:14 addresses when the apostle writes that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us...”.

            The title of Incarnate Word then, means that Jesus is God in human form. The creator has stepped into His own creation. With this action of stepping into the world and putting on flesh, John again shows us what this means for us. In his gospel in1:18 he states this, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”. N.T. Wright explains John’s point here when he says, “Up until this point in history, Human beings are not granted immediate, that is, unmediated, knowledge of God, but in Jesus we see, truly and undistortedly, who God is.”[1] There is a deep intensity behind this idea, because this means for the believer, we are able to see the character and nature of God in the person of Jesus. The eternal, perfect, holy God has been made known through the Incarnate Word. He clears up mankind’s misconceptions that God may be far off, that he is simply a man in the skies who casts down trouble upon people. Jesus shows mankind that God is with us and that He is a servant to all people (John 13:3-16).

Taking the Incarnate Word to the World

John, in both his gospel and first letter, uses the glory of Jesus as an introduction to the rest of his writing, which appears to show that the basis for his writings is Jesus himself. It is important then to see, what he writes following these introductions and how Jesus’ glory changes us.

In his gospel, John stresses the deity of Jesus and His nature as God. Also, we see the word “believe” appear 98 times[2], stressing John’s focus on showing that Jesus Christ is the Lord, and having others come to believe in Him. Certainly John here seeks to see people reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. This brings us to today, where we are faced with the ability to bring the truth of Christ to those around us. As one of Jesus’ disciples, John saw the goodness of Jesus in tremendous ways, it is no wonder that he seeks to tell people about the glorious Jesus and what He has accomplished. Acts 4:19-20 comes to mind, when we see Peter and John threatened by the Jewish leaders and told not to speak of Jesus anymore, to which they respond “But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard””. In the church here, and specifically with John, we see an immense love for the lost and bringing the truth to them. There is no doubt that our hearts today should have that same focus.

In 1 John, there begins with a focus again on the Incarnate Word, but this time John writes of a different topic afterwards, love. In chapter 3, John outlines the lifestyle of love that a Christian should have for other believers, as he calls on them to love one another according to the commands of Jesus. In chapter 4, John speaks again of love, focusing again on love for fellow Christians, but also on the nature of love itself. In this letter, love remains a constant word and theme portrayed. John writes that God is love, and that those who love others know God. John writes, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). John writes that once we have seen the glory of Jesus in his revealing the love of God to us, we have the ability to love others. Christ’s taking on human form and his death for us give us the chance to truly love people.

When John’s writings in his gospel and first letter are viewed in light of his understanding of Jesus as the glorious Lord and King, there is a refreshing meaning brought to his words, as Christ becomes the clear motivation for the Christian to advance the gospel, and to do so in love. So as we settle into 2017 and seek to make an impact in our sphere of life, let’s praise Jesus for what he has done and go into the world and love others by helping them see his glory, carrying the truth of 1 John 5:20 with us, “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

[1] O'Collins, Gerald, Daniel Kendall, and Stephen T. Davis. The Incarnation : An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God. Oxford: OUP Premium, 2002. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost.

[2] Bing, Charles C. "The Condition for Salvation in John's Gospel." Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 9, no. 16 (Spring 1996).


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