Word Become Flesh

Jesus is the word made flesh and the true tabernacle in which the glory of God is revealed and now resides – John 1:14.

Sunrise Photo by Terry Tan De Hao on Unsplash
The prologue to John’s Gospel presents key themes that are explained in the body of the book; most critically, that Jesus is the “
word made flesh” in whom life and light are found. Moreover, he is the true “tabernacle” in which God’s “glory” dwells. And John employs imagery from the history of Israel to illustrate what God has done in His “only born Son” - [Sunrise Photo by Terry Tan De Hao on Unsplash].

Since his death and resurrection, Jesus is the place where the presence of God is found, and His glory is manifested for all men to see. And the “word made flesh” is the means of access to God - the greater Tabernacle and Temple where true worship of the Father takes place “in spirit.”

Access to God’s “glory” is no longer confined by the physical walls or geographical boundaries of the old Temple “made-with-hands,” or centralized in the city of Jerusalem.
  • Jesus of Nazareth is the “Word made flesh that tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of an only-born from a father, full of grace and truth” - (John 1:14, 1:47-51, 2:13-22, 4:20-24).

TABERNACLE


The living word of God is embodied in this flesh and blood human being for all to see the divine nature writ large in the life of Jesus Christ - in his words, deeds, death, and resurrection the true nature, purpose, and glory of God are displayed before the entire world.

The description of the “word tabernacling among us” echoes the incident at Mount Sinai when God inscribed His ten “words” on stone tablets. In Jesus, the word of God has now “become flesh.

The Greek verb rendered “tabernacled” is skénoō, which means “to tabernacle; to pitch a tent.” It is related to the noun skéné for “tent,” the same term used in the Greek Septuagint translation of the book of Exodus for the “tabernacle” in the wilderness. Thus, in Christ, God is “tabernacling” with his people.

In Exodus, Yahweh commands Moses to “construct a sanctuary for me that I may dwell among them,” a portable structure fashioned “according to all that I am going to show you, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings.”

In obedience, Moses “Proceeded to take a tent and pitch it by itself outside the camp… and he called it, the Tent of Meeting… it came to pass, that when Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud came down and stood at the opening of the tent” - (Exodus 25:8-9, 33:7-11).

GRACE AND TRUTH


In the Septuagint version, the “Tent of Meeting” is the skéné martyriou or “tent of witness,” the place where often the presence of Yahweh was seen in the pillar of cloud. And just as He revealed His presence among the people of Israel in the Tabernacle, now, He makes His habitation among His people in Jesus, the “word become flesh” - (Exodus 40:34-35, Numbers 9:15-23).

Sunrise Scotland - Photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash
[Photo by Raphael Andres on Unsplash]


And John states that “we beheld his glory… FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.” This employs further imagery from Exodus and echoes Yahweh’s self-description.

Moses asks Yahweh to show him his “glory.” He responds that neither Moses nor any man “can see my face and live,” and therefore, He places Moses in the “cleft of a rock” when He passes by, permitting him only to see God’s “backside.” He descended in the cloud and passed before Moses, proclaiming, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God of compassion and grace, slow to anger and abundant IN LOVING-KINDNESS AND FAITHFULNESS” - (Exodus 33:17-23, 34:1-6).

But from now on, the glory of God is revealed in Jesus, a proposition that John expands on in his gospel account. In it, and unlike Moses, the disciples see the full glory of God, not just His “backside,” and a glory compared to that of “an only-born from a father."

And the glory manifested in the man from Nazareth is “FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH,” a statement that corresponds to the proclamation by Yahweh as he passed before Moses - “abundant IN LOVING-KINDNESS AND FAITHFULNESS.”

Thus, the glory briefly glimpsed by Moses, and from a distance, is now revealed fully in Jesus. He is the True and Greater Tabernacle in whom God dwells, the one through whom He manifests His unfiltered grace and truth to men.

And with his arrival, God’s presence is no longer restricted to the ancient Tabernacle or any manmade structure. It is no longer limited to a geographic location. The wilderness structure has become obsolete by what God has done in His Son - (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4-6).

The old Tabernacle was glorious and revealed much about the nature of God. Nevertheless, its glory and access to it were always limited. In contrast, the glory found in Jesus is full, visible, and available for the entire world to behold and believe.



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