John 1:14-18 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. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
I have always thought of John as being the disciple closest to Jesus. John was present when Jesus was baptized. John was one of the first disciples to be chosen by Jesus. When Jesus met with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration John was present along with Peter and James. What a magnificent evidence of the bond between Jesus and his leading men! John was present when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. There are many other examples of John’s importance. He certainly was qualified to write this most spiritual gospel. With that in mind let’s look at part of what he said.
First, let’s imagine we are in John’s study looking over his shoulder. He has a Gospel written by Mark, one written by his fellow Apostle Matthew and another carefully researched and composed by Doctor Luke. He is pleased with the documents before him but there are several things missing.
John takes up his pen dips it into the ink and begins to write, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “The beginning”, for John, was not with the Virgin Mary or her husband, Joseph, in Nazareth. The beginning was many centuries earlier. It was a time before any thing was made. The fullness of deity existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. His message of the incarnation was not a Baby in a Manger but instead a triune God who determined to become flesh and live among men and John was one of them.
Many years later he wrote about the time when…
John saw his glory. Look with me to 1 John 1:1-2. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us. John begins with, “That”, and it refers to the incarnate Word -- Jesus. Not only did he see the glory of God in Jesus Christ he listened to him with his own ears, saw him with his own eyes, touched him with his hands! And, assuming that John is the disciple “whom Jesus loved” in his Gospel, he may have been one of a few people who actually heard the heartbeat of Jesus (John 13:25). John, with his friends, had an amazing gift! God had revealed himself in the eternal life (John 14:6) that had always existed with the Father.
Let’s look at Luke’s account for one of the times that they actually saw the glory of God in Jesus Christ! Luke 9:28-31. Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Jesus took his closest men with him when he went up on the mountain to meet with Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah who represented the prophets. These men witnessed the change in Jesus that was similar to the change Moses experienced when he was on the mountain with God. Moses would have been very familiar with that manifestation of God’s glory. When he appeared with Jesus on the mountain he came from that glory in heaven. The brilliant white light, in both cases, was the glory of God! As we go into the Christmas season we should desire to see that glory for ourselves rather than all the commercial hubbub.
In fact, Jesus is God’s glory. Let’s look at the description of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The word translated here as “radiance” could as easily be translated “reflection”. Jesus was the reflection of God’s glory. Wherever he went as a man he was continuously manifesting the Father’s glory. As a man, he was here to sit upon David’s throne. As God he was here to show us the Father. He gave up none of his divine power when he came to the earth as a man. As we celebrate Mary’s baby at Christmas we need to remember that that Baby yet holds the universe together. We also need to remember that he wasn’t just born in a stable he was also beaten and nailed to a cross to pay the price for our sin. When he came to earth kings and priests did not welcome him…
The shepherds were witnesses. Let’s look at Luke 2:9. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
That Angel made the announcement to the shepherds and as he did so the glory of God surrounded them. 13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
It must’ve been a magnificent experience. Those shepherds saw what worship really is about! The angel made the announcement — probably Gabriel — and having done so the heavenly choir filled the air with glory and worshiped God. The glory of God had been…
Lost by Adam. Let’s look at Romans 3:23. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This is a very familiar passage. We turn to it often when asking a person about their salvation. All have sinned! We emphasize that! But we often fail to expand on the idea that when Adam fell we also fell in him. Every one born as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve fall short of the glory of God. Adam and Eve, before they sinned, were clothed in God’s glory! When they took the forbidden fruit immediately the glory of God was taken from them and they were ashamed. They were ashamed because now they were naked since the glory had departed from them. Mankinds only hope is that the glory can be…
Restored by grace. Let’s turn to another familiar passage Ephesians 2:8-10. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Remember what John wrote. The glory of God in the Son was shown in his being full of grace and truth. The glory of God is restored in the grace of God. We are saved by grace… How do we understand what this means? Someone defined grace as — God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense! You see? We have no ability to save ourselves! If we are left in the condition that Adam’s and Eve’s sin placed us we could not be to the glory of God. We are born in desperate need of salvation that we cannot provide for our selves. And yet our primary purpose on earth is to bring glory to God.
One of my favorite preachers/writers is John Piper. He is well-known for his interpretation of the first question in the Westminster Shorter Confession of Faith. The question is: “What is the chief end of man?” The answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Piper’s response is: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.”
Let me quote Wayne Grudem: The fact that God created us for his own glory determines the correct answer to the question, “What is our purpose in life?” Our purpose must be to fulfill the reason that God created us: to glorify him. When we are speaking with respect to God himself, that is a good summary of our purpose. But when we think of our own interests, we make the happy discovery that we are to enjoy God and take delight in him and in our relationship to him. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). David tells God, “In your presence there is fulness of joy in your right hand are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). He longs to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, “to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4), and Asaph cries out, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever”. (Ps. 73:25–26)
Fullness of joy is found in knowing God and delighting in the excellence of his character. To be in his presence, to enjoy fellowship with him, is a greater blessing than anything that can be imagined.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God …
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” (Ps. 84:1–2, 10)
Therefore, the normal heart attitude of a Christian is rejoicing in the Lord and in the lessons of the life he gives us (Rom. 5:2–3; Phil. 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:16–18; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6, 8; et al.). (Grudem’s Systematic Theology, page 441)
I commend to you the practice of rejoicing in the Lord. He is after all the happy God! Let me quote John Piper again.
“This is the gospel: “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:10-11) That’s a quote from the Bible! It is good news that God is gloriously happy.
No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy, then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all.
But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God when he says, “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). Jesus lived and died that his joy — God’s joy — might be in us and our joy might be full (John 15:11; 17:13). Therefore, the gospel is “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.”
The happiness of God is first and foremost a happiness in his Son. Thus when we share in the happiness of God, we share in the very pleasure that the Father has in the Son.” (DesiringGod.org)
Our appropriation of the joy of our master is a matter…
Depending on faith. Let’s look at Romans 4:16. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
Jesus Christ came into the world as the Word of God. He came as the Word who was with God and was God. There is no thing that we can do to allow us to enter into the glory of God. Instead, our relationship to God depends not on works that we have done but by faith so that it can rest on grace. Our receiving God’s grace can only be achieved by faith! When we do place our faith in him it will be…
Leading to truth. John 14:5:6 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John said that he had seen, heard and touched the word of life! The consequences of that encounter allows us to have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ with the intention that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1, 3).
Christmas should be a time of joy! Yet for many it is a time of sadness. Jesus came into the world so that we can have his joy complete in us. Jesus came to the earth with the glory of God that had been lost by Adam. Jesus becomes for us a new head of a new race. Jesus himself is the way, and the truth, and the life. The glory of God is manifest in the grace of God and explained in the truth of God. Jesus is no longer a baby in a manger. Neither is he a man on a cross! He is the risen Lord, the Son of the Happy God! And by his grace, through faith, we appropriate that happiness!
The Christmas season reminds us of the birth of the Messiah. It is one of the most popular holidays around the world even among those who are not Christians. A first century Jew, like the shepherds, would have been startled to think of the Messiah as being a baby. In the angel’s announcement this Messiah is referred to as “the Lord”! That word would typically be used only for God himself. Jesus manifested the glory of God. He was born in David’s hometown — Bethlehem! The Jews might’ve expected that he would be born, or would arrive at, Jerusalem. They would’ve also expected that he should be announced in the courts of power for his day. Instead he was introduced to shepherds tending their flocks. Has he been introduced to you? Today could be your day for meeting Jesus our Lord and Messiah!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.