John 1:14 (NIV): 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.
Jesus, the eternal, divine Word of God, became God in the flesh, the man Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.” This is the great mystery of the incarnation, one that is nearly impossible for us to fully comprehend. How can the limitless God limit Himself to a finite human body? How can the immortal God become a mortal human being, and even die? But it all happened just as God foretold. Jesus set aside for a time the glory that He had with the Father since before the world began (cf. John 17:5). He humbled Himself, and took on the very nature of a slave of God, even to the point of humbly submitting Himself to death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:5-8).
John chose his words carefully in this verse. Jesus “made His dwelling among us” literally says that He “pitched His tent” among us, the people whom He came to save. Like a tent, Jesus’ physical body was a temporary dwelling place for His glory. But, like the tabernacle in the wilderness, that temporary, movable dwelling place was crammed with all of the glory of God – it was the place where God made His glory manifest. Some believed that they could destroy Jesus by killing Him. But in doing so, all they did was to tear down the tent. Jesus rebuilt the tent when He rose from the dead, this time remaking it into a glorious temple made of eternal stuff that can never be torn down again.
Even though Jesus did live in a literal physical body, with real physical needs and limitations, His glory was still visible to any who made the time to see it. This glory showed through in His absolute holiness – He lived every day of His life untouched by sin, so that He would be a sinless, spotless sacrifice that would pay for the sins of the whole world (cf. John 1:29, Hebrews 4:15). His divine glory showed through in the miracles that He did, restoring what was broken, creating what was missing, expelling evil and darkness by His holiness and light, and even restoring life to what had died. It showed through on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the corner of the tent was lifted, and Peter, James, and John got a brief glimpse of the glory that dwelt within. And, of course, the full majesty and power of Jesus was on display when He rose from the dead, and when He ascended into heaven in the sight of His disciples.
All of these experiences caused Jesus’ disciples to realize who He really was – the One and Only Son of God, who came from the Father, pitched His tent among us for a season, and demonstrated the truth and grace that only comes from the presence of the Father. This is the Jesus we worship.
Father, in reading the gospels, we get a look at Your glory shining in the life of Jesus. But when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, when He comes to live in our hearts and transforms our lives, we get to experience that power and glory first-hand! Thank You for making that a reality in my own life. Amen.