The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14 (NIV)
The Odessa American newspaper reported about the night of October 16, 1987: “The world breathed a collective sigh of relief at 7:59 Friday night when Jessica McClure ignored the joyous cheers of hundreds surrounding her and wiped her eyes in the cool evening air for the first time in 58½ hours.” Much of the world, or at least much of America, had been glued to their TVs, radios and newspapers, powerfully drawn into the drama unfolding just outside Midland Texas. Eighteen month old Jessica McClure, quickly known around the country as “Baby Jessica” had been playing with her siblings when she suddenly dropped out of sight, falling 22 feet down a narrow abandoned well. A microphone dropped down to her showed that she was conscious, singing, screaming, and occasionally reciting snippets of nursery rhymes.
The situation was dire. How do you reach a baby 22 feet straight down a hole that is barely bigger than she is? Ropes wouldn’t work – there was no one down there to tie it to the baby. Hooks wouldn’t work – they could easily harm the child. They pumped warm air and oxygen down into the well while they strategized.
They quickly reached the decision that the only way to save Baby Jessica was for someone to go down after her. Since no adult could fit into the well, they quickly dug a larger, 30 inch diameter shaft 5 feet away from the well. When they got to a level just below Jessica, they dug a horizontal 2×2 foot hole that intersected the well shaft. They greased the well shaft with Vaseline, shoved Jessica slightly upward to free her knee that has come up and jammed her in place, and pulled her out of the well. When she emerged from the rescue shaft just a few minutes later, wrapped in gauze and tied firmly to a backboard for the trip to the hospital, prayers of thanksgiving went up all over the country; all over the world!
At the time of mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden, God already knew that there was going to have to be a rescue. And He knew that, with us stuck in the deep well of sin, the only solution was going to be for Him to come down after us Himself. Throughout many centuries, He groomed a people group to receive Him when He arrived, even telling them through prophets when He was going to come and how He needed them to prepare themselves.
Finally the time came, and the Word of God, the One and only Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, made His appearance on Earth, being made flesh, just like John says. He was born to humble, godly parents in the village of Bethlehem right on schedule. About 30 years later, the time arrived for Him to be revealed to the people of Israel, the people that God had prepared for all of those centuries.
As He began His earthly ministry, He revealed His glory to His disciples. Some of the inner circle, Peter, James, and John, actually got to see His divine glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). But John doesn’t even include the transfiguration in his gospel. Instead, he points to seven miraculous “signs” that, to him, conclusively demonstrated the glory of God’s one and only Son, the Word made flesh: changing water to wine (2:1-11); healing the official’s son (4:43-54); healing the disabled man at Bethesda (5:1-9); feeding the 5,000 (6:1-13); walking on water (6:16-21); healing the man born blind (9:1-7); and raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44). John carefully chose which of Jesus’ miracles most clearly revealed His glory and demonstrated who He really was. In fact, he tells us clearly in 20:30-31, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John’s overriding concern was the same as that of God’s people today: that people everywhere, come to understand, through the testimony of what we have experienced of Him in our own lives, that Jesus was no ordinary man, not merely a great moral teacher or learned holy man. He was nothing less than God Himself, the Word made flesh, come down to pull us out of the deep well of sin and death that we had fallen into; to climb down to where we were, and to pull us up into the bright light and fresh air of God’s love.