The Word in Tabernacle

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

The Apostle John clearly tells us at the start of his gospel who the word is. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Clearly it was the Word that was in the beginning before all else was known to man. The Word that was with God, the Word that created all things in God’s creation and it is the Word that is God. Word is not tangible, it cannot be seen in a physical sense, as it is in the very essence of God, a Spirit. We do not have the ability to see a spiritual being with our physical eye. When we worship God we must worship Him is spirit. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) My father tells the story of a young lad who was having trouble believing in God. His father asked him why this was and the lad answered, “I could believe if God had skin.”

This was always God’s plan to be visible to man. Man does not have to look far to see the visible attributes of God through His creation. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) Yet, as the young lad in my father’s story, it is easier to believe if we can see that which we believe in. The Apostle Thomas had this same difficulty after the resurrection of Jesus. Even after the other Apostles had testified that Jesus had risen from the grave Thomas would not believe unless he would see for himself. “So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

In the Old Testament the Israelite people built the tabernacle as a place that God could dwell. Upon its completion the glory of the Lord filed the tabernacle. A cloud was upon in by day and a fire by night. If the cloud or fire moved the Israelite people packed up and followed to where the cloud or fire led them. Thus the Lord directed His people visibly but still no one has seen the Lord as He is a Spirit. (Exodus 40:34-38) Jesus, the Word of God, became God in the flesh.

When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of the living God Jesus replied. “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Here the idea is that the Word becoming flesh in that God took on human nature or became as a man. The Word became as a man or the term used incarnate. The meaning then being that a higher order than man became as a man. “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7) Here the second member of the trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit became as a man or united with man. Jesus then was God in the flesh.

In John 1:3 we see, “All things were made by him.” The word made in that verse is the same as we see in our text. “And the Word was made flesh.” (KJV) In the New American translation the word “became” is used. This gives us a better picture of the true meaning. The existence of Jesus has always been just as the existence of God. Jesus became flesh as of a man. Jesus came in the flesh in a body that was prepared for Him from the beginning. “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me.” (Hebrews 10:5) We as people in the flesh face the appointed time for the death of our flesh. Because of the fall we also face the second death if not covered by the blood of Jesus for our sins. Therefore God came in the flesh as a man that he might render powerless the work of Satan. “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

That if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth then we demonstrate that in our spirit we are from God and are His children. “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” (1 John 4:2) It is not that the Word of God became united with man in the flesh and changed to take on human attributes but that the Word of God became so united to the flesh that the Word of God became flesh. Just as the spirit of a man becomes untied with the body the Word of God became untied with the body to become a righteous person.

The Word dwelt among us. It is as in the Old Testament when God dwelt with His people in the tabernacle. The Word dwelt in the tabernacle of human flesh. The point of the Apostles teaching here is that the Word became incarnate. Meaning that the Word of God became embodied in the flesh and dwelt with men. Jesus sojourned with us as we are on a journey through this world to the world to follow. Jesus ate, drank, walked, and slept with us for a number of years. Jesus experienced life just as we do as a man. He could be seen, spoken to and we could hear Him speak with our physical ears. This is the Apostles John’s testimony of his life with the incarnate Word. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3) The theme of John’s gospel was to present Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. God came in the flesh that He might dwell with men and lead them in the truth that they may have everlasting life. “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31)

Through Jesus we saw the glory of God. This is the testimony of John that the Word of God became a man. This would be a correct glory that God had become united with man. The inner three, Peter, James, and John, saw Jesus in His Glory on the mount of transfiguration and Peter later wrote of it in his second letter. “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased” — and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18) Here on the mount of transfiguration they saw Jesus in all His majesty, splendor and dignity. Therefore John states we beheld Him in His glory.

The disciples also witnessed His glory in the signs and wonders He performed, by the beauty of His teaching, by His resurrection and ascension to return to the Father. All of this manifested His perfections, that which only could be of the Son of God.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16) As the only begotten Son of God He would be very dear and greatly loved, as He was in complete submission to the will of the Father. He was sent to be the Savior of mankind and was sacrificed for man and this would have been immensely grievous to the Father. Yet, God poured out His grace upon man that through His Son their relationship with God could be restored. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

The Word made flesh is then that of a loving God and full of grace and truth. Jesus was a display of God’s lovingkindness and did good for all. He sought the welfare of all men at a great sacrifice unto Himself for the love that He had towards mankind. In Him was truth fulfilled in that in Him there was no lie or deceit. Jesus was not like the false prophets of past or the false Messiah’s to come, and He was greater than the prototypes of the past, for He was the full truth and revelation of God. The Word of God came and tabernacle in the flesh of a man that we might see the full glory of God and to redeem us unto God through Him. As Jesus testified to those whom He trusted most, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, December 21, 2015

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