|Grace upon Grace|
John 1:14, 16
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. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The Story: The Word who, John wrote, was in the beginning, was with God, and, in fact, was God took human flesh and lived among human people in a dusty corner of the Roman Empire. Seeing him, wrote John, we saw God’s glory. “Dwelt among us” can be translated more literally, “tabernacled among us,” and for John’s Jewish readers, the connection between the Tabernacle and glory would have stood out. When the Tabernacle was complete, God’s glory filled it (Exodus 4:34-35). Jesus’ tabernacle, His flesh was similarly filled with God’s glory. He showed that glory to His followers through the miracles He performed (John 2:11) and preeminently through His death and resurrection (John 17:1). In all He did, He demonstrated grace and truth. Grace without truth is gooey sentiment; truth without grace is rigid and frozen. Jesus embodied grace and truth together, bringing into the world and to His people “grace upon grace.” Venite adoramus. Come, let us adore Him.
The Structure: The Gnostic tendency is ever with us. We so easily separate flesh from spirit in order to be more spiritual—or to justify our bodily sins. When we look to Jesus, however, we realize it cannot be done. The incarnation, God made man, is central to our faith and our salvation. God become man, taking a human body from His mother and living like one of us. When He exercised, He sweated and it stank. Fasting made Him hungry. If He stayed up late, He was tired the next day. When they beat Him, He bruised and bled. When they crucified Him, He died. In His gritty, this-worldly material life, He revealed His eternal glory to those who could, by grace, see it. When we ignore or denigrate the material and bodily, we denigrate His glory and trivialize our salvation. Making the incarnation central yields the only worldview that ties our faith to the stuff of this world where into which we have been placed with Jesus so that many might know Him and share His life.
How do you think about the Jesus’ bodily life—a life that was just like yours? How does the incarnation inform your Christian worldview?