“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.” ~John 1.14
John is describing here a personal encounter with God Himself in this physical world of human experience, and knowing that it was God Himself he had that encounter with because of the evidences of His God-ness.
John uses the word “glory” – “and we have seen His Glory.”
Isn’t this what all religion is seeking and grasping for?
Isn’t this what the human soul longs for?
Isn’t this what our blinded hearts are desperately groping in the darkness to find?
Don’t you wish you could share that same experience of a fresh personal encounter with God in His Glory?
Well, here it is! Here HE is! God – the eternal Word – became flesh and dwelt (ἐσκήνωσεν / pitched His tent, tabernacle) among us! The eternal, ineffable, unapproachable God in-fleshed Himself in our human form and came to live among us!
In the muted veil of His flesh [Hebrews 10.19-20], we SAW the Glory of God who otherwise cannot be visibly viewed. John explains the mystery of the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ just four verses later:
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known” [John 1.18].
No one has ever seen God – except that we have! In Jesus Christ!
John sums up the human experiences and interactions of the apostles with Jesus Christ as “we have seen His Glory…” He draws out this real, personal, physical “seeing” God in 1 John 1.1-3:
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— 2the 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— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
This is a parallel statement with what this same John wrote in the Gospel of John 1.1-18. Here in 1 John 1.1-3, he is just expanding on the physical human experiences of personally interacting with God and knowing it is God you are interacting with!
But, the point is that what John exclaims that they physically and visibly saw was “His Glory,” meaning the very Glory of the very God. When they saw His Glory, they saw GOD!
What is this “His Glory” that they saw in the in-fleshed Jesus Christ?
1. We know, first, that this is a clear, unambiguous, confession of the Deity, the God-ness of Jesus Christ. What they saw in Jesus Christ was the exclusive Personal Glory of the Presence of God. God Himself is The Glory.
God is not only glorious as a descriptive adjective; He is The Glory, the essence of the noun. God not only ‘has’ glory, God Himself IS Glory.
Do you remember how that when God was threatening to distance Himself from Israel because of their sin over the golden calf, Moses was pleading with Yahweh not to leave them? God said he would not. Moses wanted a confirmation that God was there. He made this astounding request to the Voice that was speaking to him:
“Moses said, ‘Please show me your Glory!’” ~Exodus 33.18
Yahweh did indeed show Moses His Glory. What He showed Moses was Himself!
And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and I will proclaim before you my Name ‘The LORD’” … “But,” He said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my Glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” ~Exodus 33.19-23
When Moses saw Yahweh’s Glory, what he was seeing was God Himself! That’s what John is saying when he exclaims, “We have seen His Glory! We have seen GOD!” In fact, the Glory that John declares that they saw is the same Glory that Yahweh told Moses “But you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” This is the same Glory that John says they saw – and lived!
God has no physical form, but when He reveals and manifests His Presence, He does so in a visible Glory. Glory is brightness and brilliance. Glory is shining-ness. Glory is bursting, blazing, and even consuming light. 1 Timothy 6.16 declares, “who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.”
And so when John says that ‘we beheld, we have seen His Glory,’ he sees and recognizes that when they saw Jesus Christ, they were beholding the in-fleshed Person of God Himself in all of His splendor and shining excellence. Jesus Christ is the Light who is God [John 1.4, 5, 7, 8, 9].
2. We know also that when John says “we have seen His Glory,” he is alluding back to the Presence of Yahweh with His people in the Old Testament Tabernacle.
God came down to visibly dwell upon and among His people in the Tabernacle. A ‘tabernacle’ is a ‘tent.’ In fact, when John says that The Glory became flesh and ‘dwelt’ among us, he uses the common verb form for the noun ‘tent’ – He ‘tented’ or ‘pitched His tent’ among us.
This is an obvious allusion to the ‘tent of meeting’ that God prescribed and provided for Israel in their wilderness sojourn. They lived in tents [tabernacles], so God would, too. God’s tabernacle was a special one, an exclusive one. He personally gave Moses the plans and schematics for it, and told him to follow the pattern exactly.
Then, when it was done, God Himself came in a visible Glory and dwelt among them in the Holy of Holies. Whatever it looked like, there was a visible shining Glory that dwelt among them in the Holy of Holies.
The Glory of God’s Presence also hovered over the Tabernacle by day in a visible cloud and by night in a visible fire. The Glory was a visible manifestation of the Presence of God. When ancient Israel saw The Glory, they knew that God was with them, that God was claiming them as His people to belong to Him, and that God was giving Himself to belong to them.
In Romans 9.4, Paul reminds the Jews about the special privileges they enjoyed even under the Old Covenant. And among those blessings was “The Glory”:
“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, The Glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises…”
“The Glory” that belonged to them was God Himself living and dwelling among them in the visible Glory.
Now, God was coming to in-flesh Himself in our nature and likeness and physically live among us. John and the other apostles saw this – they beheld the Glory of God in the human tent of Jesus Christ.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us [tented among us, God pitched His tent among us in His human body of flesh and blood], and we have seen His Glory, Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
3. When John says “we have seen His Glory,” we know also that John is pointing us to our future eternal Glory-Home with God and this same Jesus Christ.
All of this future Glory that God has reserved for us will be revealed to this same John just a few years later.
In the Book of the Revelation, Jesus showed John the visions of what our future Glory will be with Him in Heaven – the New Creation, the New Heaven and New Earth.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.’” ~Revelation 21.3
What is most significant about this description of Heaven is that John uses the same imagery and even the same words here that he uses in John 1.14. “The dwelling place of God” is “the tent” of God. “He will dwell with them” is the same word “make His tent” or “tabernacle” with them. God Himself will dwell with us in the Glory of His own Personal Presence. God’s Presence is the Glory of Heaven.
Just like God “tented among us” and lived among us in the in-fleshed Person of Jesus Christ, so He will “tent among us” forever in the resurrected body of Glory that Jesus Christ now is [Philippians 3.20-21]!
When the angel told John he would show him the Bride, the wife of the Lamb,
“…he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the Glory of God…” ~Revelation 21.9-11
The Glory of that city, and indeed of all Heaven, is the Presence of God.
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the Glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” ~Revelation 21.22-23
The same Glory of God and the Lamb that will be the Light of our eternal Heavenly Home is the same eternal Word who in-fleshed Himself to come and live among us through His human birth. John said of their relationship and fellowship “we have seen His Glory, Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“We shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is!” ~1 John 3.2
And we, too, shall see Him and His same Glory forever as He lives among us and makes His daily home among us. We will see the spiritual-physical Face of Jesus Christ – we will visibly see His Glory – just as really as John and the apostles saw His Glory during the days of His in-fleshing.
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His Face, and His Name will be on their foreheads” ~Revelation 22.3-4
“Please, show me your Glory!”
So, here’s where I’m going with this: Can I see this Personal Glory that John said they saw and beheld so freely? Must I wait until the New Jerusalem comes down from God out of Heaven where Jesus will “tent” among us forever?
NO! This same Glory that is:
- the Personal Presence of God
- the communal dwelling that God had with Israel in the Tabernacle
- indeed the same Glory that dwelled and walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before their fall into sin
- the Personal visitation that God made among men during the days of His flesh
- the Personal Presence and Light that will make Heaven, Heaven
… I can see this same Glory if I’m willing to love and seek Him.
The same Glory that John says they saw when “the Word became flesh and lived among us” is the very same Glory that shines from the Word of God when I look into it and the Spirit of God unveils the Glory of Christ!
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the Glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” ~2 Corinthians 3.18
And this Glory that we are beholding in the Word of Scripture is the Face of Jesus Christ, whose Glory John said they saw! What we are seeing in Scripture is The Gospel of His Glory that God Himself shines into our hearts by the new birth and by faith.
The Scriptures radiate with
“the Light of the Gospel of the Glory of Christ, who is the image of God … For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ!” ~2 Corinthians 4.4-6
So, YES! You, too, can see and experience – and have a fresh personal encounter with – the very same Personal Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ as you read The Word, as you receive His Gospel, and as you fix your eyes of love and faith on Him without looking away!
…unless you are looking at something else that you think is more glorious?