We Have Seen His Glory
Primary Truth Taught- God the Son becomes human without ceasing to be God
I suppose that if you were to ask Christians whether or not they would like to “see” God, most would say “yes.” Human curiosity often wins out over our knowledge of biblical passages such as Hebrews 12:29, which informs us that “our God is a consuming fire.” While Scripture promises that the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8), Paul makes it clear that such sight cannot come until death, when believers enter God’s presence. It is God alone who “has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). But one day — at the appearing of Jesus Christ — Paul says we will see that which our sin and finitude currently prevents us from seeing (6:14–15).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that the beatific vision (to see God as He is) is promised to Christians when Jesus returns at the end of the age: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). In Paul’s day, a mirror was formed from polished metal, usually bronze, tin, or silver. One’s reflection in such an object was dim at best. Yet Paul promises that the dim image reflecting back from polished metal will give way to a face-to-face encounter. When Jesus comes back, we will see Him with our own eyes. On that day, our imperfect knowledge will give way to sight. We will know, even as we are fully known.
Seeing God as He really is has been John’s quest as he writes his Gospel.
My grandmother works a lot of puzzles. I think one of the fun things about a puzzle is that you don’t really see the full picture until all the pieces find their right spots. Once they’re in place we behold the full picture. That is exactly what John is doing for us in this Gospel. He is putting the pieces together. He’s placing each piece in place one by one throughout the book.
So far we’ve discovered the truth about who Jesus is…we’ve learned that He is the Word, He is God the Son, He is the Creator. Today we’re going to learn two more things or get two more puzzle pieces to click into place.
– Jesus is our Tabernacle
-Jesus is the grandest manifestation of God’s glory
Because we’re not Hebrews, nor are we experts in Jewish law, I want to take a few minutes to look at a couple of things that will help us piece together today’s passage because our verse today is one verse we must fully comprehend.
The first piece of the redemptive puzzle is found as we consider the OT Tabernacle.
When referring to the Tabernacle in the Greek OT (LXX), the writers use the noun Skene. Normally, the word skene is translated tent. In the context of a specific tent, namely, the Tabernacle, it is translated, of course, Tabernacle.
We find the beginning of the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting, as it was called in the Book of Exodus, immediately following the Mount Sinai episode.
Exodus 33:7–11 (ESV)
7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
So, Moses would go outside the camp and enter into this special tent and when he entered God’s glory would descend upon the tent and God would speak with Moses as friends speak together.
There were a lot of things that took place in the Tabernacle but when God spoke to Moses as a friend talks to his friend something was different. This was like how God spoke to Adam before the fall. This was how God spoke to Noah. This was how God spoke to Enoch before He took him to heaven. This is the most amazing thing and the most profound to imagine God speaking to a human as His friend.
The purpose of the Tabernacle was to provide a place where God could come to meet with His people.
Exodus 25:8 (ESV)
8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.
The second foundational consideration for today is the idea of God’s glory.
When God met with His people at the Tent of meeting and they saw the cloud of God’s presence, what they saw was God’s glory. I want to refer back to the Greek word skene. This word comes from the root word shaken (shekine). Later this word would come to us as Shekinah or as we may know it, shekinah glory. So, the Tabernacle (skene) or tent was the place where the people could look out from their tents and visibly see the glory of God or the shekinah of God. Remember, all these words come from the same root or the same family of words. So, what the point is with the tent of meeting (skene) was that it was the place where God and His glory (shekinah) could meet with His people. One could call it the shekinah glory tent.
So powerful is this image that we read in Leviticus…
Now with that background, let’s jump to the NT…
Born of God
Primary Truth Taught- The new birth brings sinners into the family of God
as sons and daughters
Scholars have called the Doctrine of Adoption the apex of all of grace. If there is anything in the Bible that should bring the believer joy and happiness it is the fact that in Christ, God has adopted believers and placed us into His family.
Ephesians 1:3–6 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
I also agree with the Puritans who taught that adoption is a greater privilege than even our justification.
Justification has placed us in the courtroom of judgment and because of the saving work of Christ on the cross of Calvary we are justified, declared righteous before God the Judge of all the universe. However, because of God’s great love for us, He doesn’t tell us we’re free to go and release us as spiritual homeless orphans but takes us and declares us to be His very own children. Adoption takes us from the courtroom and the street and places us into God’s house. We become His children. We are given the rights and privileges of children. We are given son ship status, no longer aliens and outsiders but made part of God’s family. God, then becomes our Father and Jesus our Brother.
The doctrine of adoption presupposes that we are not naturally a part of God’s family, but must be adopted into that family through an action of God. This biblical teaching strongly opposes the mindset of our culture that assumes everybody is a child of God.
The secular world, if it believes in God at all, believes that everyone is a child of God. That’s simply not the case.
Every time I preach a funeral for a lost person, the family believes that their loved one is somehow in heaven. The Bible is clear, there are two main groups of people, the children of God and the children of the devil.
John 8:37–44 (ESV)
37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Human Need Met
We must understand to what lengths God went in order to adopt you and place you into His family. If you are a believer, you have been brought into God’s family and given son and daughter status. He has given you a place, privileges; power to overcome the world, and eternity with Him. Because God is our Father, He has places His eternal love upon us as His children. He goes out of His way to strengthen and support you. He will forever keep you and guard you. You are His.
John’s Witness to the Light
Primary Truth Taught- John was the man sent by God to be a witness to the light and prepare the people to meet God.
The Prologue of John’s gospel is one of the great literary masterpieces. It’s style and flow is almost poetical. It stands to reason that this would be the case since it is describing One who is eternal, spanning all of history.
Verse 1 and 2, we’ve learned that Jesus was in existence at the time of the beginning
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
We see in verse 3 that Jesus is the Creator on all things…
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Then, in verses 4 and 5 we’ve learned that not only is Jesus the Creator of physical life, He’s also the Creator of eternal, spiritual life. Just like when God spoke, Let there be light, John captures this imagery of light to very accurately depict the saving light of Jesus when God grants the sinner salvation in Christ it’s much like God speaking, Let there be light into the dead, dark heart.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This brings us to our text for today…
All week, I’ve been asking God a question about this passage, why in the middle of this wonderful prologue, which shows us who Jesus really is, do we have a few verses about John the Baptist. It goes Jesus is God He’s Creator He gives physical life and spiritual life…John the Baptist…then right back to Jesus as the light.
At first, these verses seem out of place.
Let’s see if we can discover why they are placed where they are…
In order to understand, we must understand the dynamic of a witness bringing added proof to a claim. John the Apostle in his Gospel has made some very bold claims, namely, Jesus is God, He is the Creator and He gives eternal life. Let’s look to his purpose statement once again:
John 20:30–31 (ESV)
In the Beginning was the Word (Part 2)
Primary Truth Taught- All life is to be found in Jesus Christ.
Today, I want us to discover even more of who Jesus Christ is. Last time we saw Him as God the Son, eternally with the Father. We learned that He was in existence before anything was created and that all things were created through Him.
Before we begin today to consider verses 4-5 let’s look to another passage quickly that shows us again that Jesus is very God of very God.
John 17:1–5 (ESV)
17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
What Jesus is asking the Father for, in this passage, is to grant Him the eternal glory He had before the world was created. We’ll see as we go through John’s Gospel that Jesus is pure deity and nothing less. Because He is God when He speaks, His words produce life.
Human Need Met
This passage explains a vital truth, namely, that only in Jesus Christ is eternal life to be found. He alone is the Creator of physical life and He alone also is the Creator of spiritual life.