John 1:14 (3)

Sermon preached on January 9, 2011 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

For many years Marg's folks had a print of Robert Zünd's painting,
Way to Emmaus hanging in their house. It pictures the two disciples and Jesus on that journey. In the painting the area above Jesus's head is brighter than the rest of the painting, which is rather dark. In contrast to the other two disciples, Jesus is wearing white, so your eyes are drawn to Him. From the picture you can tell that He's unique. I had to check to see if Zünd had painted a halo over Jesus' head, but he had not.

Some people often think of Jesus that way, that there was something physically different about Him, an aura around Him, that marked Him out as the Son of God.

Robert Murray M'Cheyne the great pastor from Scotland, only lived 29 years on this earth. He died in 1843. There was a time when M'Cheyne was with a some other ministers in Edinburgh. An old Highland minister was also there. When McCheyne left, the old minister said of him,

"Well, well, do you know this, I have never before seen one in whom I see Christ shine as He shines in the face of that young man."

M'Cheyne preached his last sermon of his life in a place called Broughty Ferry. His text was Isaiah 60:1,

"Arise, shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you."

He then went home to bed, ill from the fever which was to take his life in a few days. After his death they found this letter under his pillow. It had come from a man who had heard that sermon at Broughty Ferry. The letter read, (J. Douglas MacMillan in The Lord Our Shepherd. p.85-86)

"Dear Mr. McCheyne, I heard you preach in Broughty Ferry last Sabbath evening, and your sermon brought me to Christ. It was not anything you said, but it was what you were as you preached. For as you preached, I thought I had never seen the beauty of holiness as I saw it in you. You were talking about the glory of our God resting on the Savior, and I saw the Savior's glory rest on you. That brought me to Christ."

Those are interesting stories. M'Cheyne was a great servant of the Lord. Did he have the look that Stephen had that we read about in Acts 6? Of Stephen we read, (Acts 6:15)

"All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin
looked intently at Stephen,
and they saw that his face
was like the face of an angel."

Perhaps M'Cheyne was blessed like that. At least a couple of people saw it.

Was Jesus like that? On the Mount of Transfiguration He was. In Matthew 17:2 we read about Him,

"There he was transfigured before them.
His face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became
as white as the light."

We're not told if there was an aura around Jesus when He came up from the water after He was baptized. We read, (Matthew 3:16) (ESV)

"And when Jesus was baptized,
immediately he went up from the water,
and behold, the heavens
were opened to him,
and he saw the Spirit of God
descending like a dove
and coming to rest on him;"

I'm not sure if Jesus shone then or not. It is quite possible.

God's glory often refers to the bright light that surrounds God's presence. But Jesus didn't walk around with a halo over His head. His face wasn't like the face of an angel. He didn't have a luminescence that marked Him out as the Son of God. Whatever our text means, it does not mean that. John writes, (John 1:14)

"The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth."

What glory did people see? It obviously didn't have anything to do with his outward physical condition. The Word became flesh, which we saw last time referred to human nature in a very weak and inglorious way. He did not come with pomp and ceremony, with the garments and trappings of a king. He became 'flesh'. As Isaiah wrote about Him 700 years before He walked on this earth. (Isaiah 53:2–3)

"He had no beauty or majesty
to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance
that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows,
and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men
hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not."

Indeed, many people did not see anything attractive about Jesus. They didn't see His glory. In fact, they emphatically denied it. In Matthew 12:24, when the Pharisees saw Him heal a man on the Sabbath, said,

"It is only by Beelzebub,
the prince of demons,
that this fellow drives out demons."

And in John 10:20 we read that many of the Jews said of Jesus,

"He is demon-possessed and raving mad.
Why listen to him?"

Not everyone saw Jesus' glory. It wasn't obvious to people's physical eyes. Many missed this great revelation.

So, if Jesus did not have a halo over His head, what are we to understand from our text? John wrote,

"We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth."

I very much doubt that what John says there refers exclusively to what they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. To limit John's statement to the Mount of Transfiguration seems unnatural. In saying that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us John seems to be referring to the whole of Jesus' earthly life. Indeed, John confirms this in many other places in His gospel. For example, in John 2:11, John tells us about one aspect of Christ's glory. He said of the miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana,

"This, the first of his miraculous signs,
Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee.
He thus revealed his glory,
and his disciples put their faith in him."

That miracle, which was performed without pomp and circumstance, showed Christ's glory. He didn't do something like Naaman the Syrian wanted the prophet Elisha to do. Remember how insulted he was when Elisha didn't even come out to see him, but instead sent a messenger to tell him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman said, (2 Kings 5:11)

"I thought that he would surely
come out to me and stand
and call on the name of the LORD his God,
wave his hand over the spot
and cure me of my leprosy."

Like Elisha, Jesus didn't do anything like that. He didn't wave his hands over the vats of water with everyone watching. Instead He quietly told the attendants to pour water into the jars and bring a sample to the master of the feast. Jesus revealed His glory through the miracle, but John didn't place the emphasis on the miracle so much, as on Jesus' caring about the bride and groom and their guests and His working to meet their needs showed His glory.

It's very interesting that as John expands on this idea of Christ showing God's glory—he points us to the cross of how Jesus was glorified in His death and resurrection. D. A. Carson writes about the gospel of John, (The Gospel According to John (PNTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 128)

"as the book progresses, the revelation of Jesus' glory is especially tied to Jesus' cross and the exaltation that ensues… [Jesus] was supremely 'gloried' in his death and exaltation."

Jesus showed us God's glory in His death and resurrection.

There was certainly glory in His resurrection and exaltation.

His resurrection and exaltation displayed His glory. The empty tomb showed His glory. His ascension into heaven showed His glory. In John 7:38 Jesus said that if anyone believed in Him, streams of living water would flow from him. John wrote, (verse 39)

"By this he meant the Spirit,
whom those who believed in him
were later to receive.
Up to that time the Spirit
had not been given,
since Jesus had not yet been glorified."

Jesus displayed such glory in His resurrection and exaltation.

But we might think,

"Yes, Jesus showed us God's glory in His resurrection, but the cross? That was an illustration of weakness, of humiliation and shame. That was something that Jesus had to get through in order to show us God's glory."

But such thinking is not biblical. Notice how in John 12:23–24

Jesus tied the revelation of His glory specifically to His death.

He said,

"The hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you the truth,
unless a kernel of wheat
falls to the ground and dies,
it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies,
it produces many seeds."

In the cross, in Jesus' suffering and death, Jesus showed God's immense love.

There was such glory there. Who is like Jesus that He should die for His enemies? Who is like the Father, that He should send His Son to die for sinners? There mercy was revealed. There the forgiveness of God was revealed. There the kindness and graciousness of God was revealed. The life of Jesus was another demonstration of when God showed His glory to Moses. He hid Moses in a cleft of a rock and covered him with His hand, declaring as He passed by, (Exodus 34:6–7)

"The LORD, the LORD,
the compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger,
abounding in love and faithfulness,
maintaining love to thousands,
and forgiving wickedness,
rebellion and sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;"

John Owen writes on how Christ showed the glory of God, (Works, Vol. 1, p. 294)

"The first thing wherein we may behold the glory of the person of Christ, God and man, which was given him of his Father, consists in the representation of the nature of God, and of the divine person of the Father, unto the church in him;"

People saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, not by His face glowing, but through His teaching, His attitudes and actions. Though all those things Jesus showed us what God the Father was like. That was an essential ingredient of His glory. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. He is the image of God. He shows us what God is like. As we read in Hebrews 1:3,

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory
and the exact representation of his being…"

In John 14 we read that Philip said to Jesus,

"Lord, show us the Father
and that will be enough for us."

Jesus answered:

"Don't you know me, Philip,
even after I have been
among you such a long time?
Anyone who has seen me
has seen the Father.
How can you say,
'Show us the Father'?
Don't you believe that I am in the Father,
and that the Father is in me?
The words I say to you are not just my own.
Rather, it is the Father,
living in me, who is doing his work."

Now what does all this mean? How is this supposed to change your life?

First of all, this means that we don't have to hide from God anymore. Adam and Eve knew they had to hide when they heard God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. Their sin had separated them from God. The sight of God's glory would kill them. As God would later say to Moses in Exodus 33:20,

"you cannot see my face,
for no one may see me and live."

Sin separated us from God. Adam and Eve hid from God after they sinned. They were afraid of God. His glory was too much for them.

But Jesus has changed all that.

Jesus has brought Gods' glory back to us and, by dying for our sins and rising again for our justification, has given us His Spirit and enabled His glory to be reflected in us.

We are now God's friends. Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. As 2 Corinthians 4:6 says,

"For God, who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness,'
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

What a great thing that Jesus has done for us. John Owen writes, (Vol. 1, p. 286)

"one of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ."

The second thing we should see from our text is that

there is glory in humility, there is glory in humbly serving others.

Today's society sees glory in pomp and circumstance. You all heard about the White House Party crashers of last year. Tareq and Michaele Salahi reportedly attended a party at the White House without being invited. It was a dinner in honor of the President of India. At that party they had their picture taken with the President, the vice-president, the White House chief of staff and other dignitaries. They thought it was great to mingle with the politically powerful. There was lots of pomp and ceremony there. Mr. Salahi was dressed in a tuxedo and his wife was arrayed in a beautiful red dress. They mixed with the great and powerful. That's how society sees glory.

But Jesus' example teaches us that, for us, there is another aspect of glory. There is glory in humbly serving others. We have all been made in the image of God. That image, defaced as it was by the fall into sin, is being restored in us Christians by the power of Jesus Christ. When we display the characteristics of God, when we help others, when we are kind, generous, truthful, forgiving—there is such glory there. Remember the widow who put two small coins in the temple treasury? There was glory there.

Christians, don't underestimate the worth and value of your lives, of even the little things that you do. Remember what Jesus said about the cup of cold water? In Matthew 10:42 He said,

"And if anyone gives even
a cup of cold water to one of these
little ones because he is my disciple,
I tell you the truth,
he will certainly not lose his reward."

There's glory in even your little acts. Whenever you display Christ in you by your attitudes and actions, there is such glory there. How wonderful Jesus has been to us in restoring in His image that we may once again enjoy God's presence and display His glory.

Christians, live for Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says.

"Always give yourselves fully
to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor
in the Lord is not in vain."

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians, this means that

you should recognize the glory of Jesus.

Don't be like the people of old who when they saw Jesus, they didn't recognize His glory. They were blinded to it. They hated and killed the Lord of Glory.

See the glory of Jesus. It's your only hope. Embrace the One who died for sinners. Only He can save you.