And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us

by Mike Ratliff

14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA28)

14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

One of my favorite passages in Sacred Scripture is Psalms 23. One part of that really speaks to me is v3 where David wrote about God saying, “He restores my soul;” There are many times where I find myself in a place where I desperately need for God to do for me what David describes in this Psalm.

1 The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalms 23:1-6 NASB)

I write this motivated from my Lord’s own work in my heart over the past several days as God has indeed “restored my soul.” The battle against apostasy and seeing how the visible church is becoming more and more symbolic and less and less genuinely focused on what the Apostle John calls “Spirit and Truth” has caused me to become susceptible to attacks from the enemy all designed to discourage and distract. However, God allows us to be attacked like that. He allows us to be taken into the valley of the shadow of death and so be tested that we may become more and more reliant on God’s grace and less and less on ourselves. After these trials, he will take us to a quiet place of restoration and recovery, and, for me, that is to dig into and exegete His Word for His glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. Hence, we will look at John 1:1-18 and the Word that became flesh or “the Incarnate Word.” 

1 Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. 2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. 3 πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν 4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· 5 καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν.
6 Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος, ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης· 7 οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσιν διʼ αὐτοῦ. 8 οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλʼ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός.
9 Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. 10 ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω. 11 εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον. 12 ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, 13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς ἀλλʼ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν.
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. 15 Ἰωάννης μαρτυρεῖ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ κέκραγεν λέγων· οὗτος ἦν ὃν εἶπον· ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν, ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν. 16 ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πληρώματος αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἐλάβομεν καὶ χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος· 17 ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσέως ἐδόθη, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο. 18 Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε· μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο. (John 1:1-18 NA28)

1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was the Word. 2 This one was with God in the beginning. 3 All things came to be through him and without him, not one thing came to be which came into being. 4 In him was life and the life was the light of men 5 and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not grasp it.
6
There came a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 This one came for testimony that he might testify about the light that all may believe through him. 8 That one was not the light, but he came that he might testify about the light.
9
He was the true light coming into the world, which enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world and the world came to be through him, and the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. 12 But as many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave to them the right to become children of God, 13 the ones born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of a husband, but of God.
14
And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified about him and cried out saying, “This one was he whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks before me because he was prior to me.'”) 16 And from his fullness, we all received, even grace on top of grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, the one being in the bosom of the Father, that one explained Him. (John 1:1-18 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

We have looked at this passage before, however, I have had conversations many times with those used by our enemy to attack me and this ministry who would have issues with some of the truths you and I have taken to our hearts from here. The first and foremost is that the purpose of Christ and Christianity is not primarily the Church, but the glory of God. So many today have a theology that is so man-focused that the Jesus they preach (if they ever do) or the one the claim to believe in their theology is not anything like John presents him here nor in the rest of the Gospel of John.

According to v1 the Word or λόγος preexisted creation. He is with God and he is God. John also says in v10 that the λόγος created the world. He is also the life that is the light of men. This light shines into the darkness, but the darkness cannot grasp it or understand it. The unregenerate person cannot understand God or his ways. He cannot believe the gospel or come to salvation unless called by God. (John 6:44).

This λόγος, now sits in the bosom of the Father in heaven and during his incarnation, one of the main purposes of his mission here was to explain the Father to those who would hear. (v18).

I feel like John the Baptist sometimes. My job is to point people to the truth, but it seems that hardly anyone is listening. We have huge unresolved issues of ecclesiology rampant in the visible church right now and it is a much larger problem than most realize. When we lived in Kansas, we had to leave the SBC church in which we were full members because they went Purpose Driven. After that we visited several churches in the Kansas City area. What we ran into there was that the churches where the Word is rightly divided were not very friendly while the churches where they are all about community were not so hot on getting their doctrines squared away. There seemed to be no balance.

What’s my point? I am convinced that most churches have become too self-focused and too much involved in keeping themselves afloat rather than just being about a place where the sheep can rest beside still waters finding rest for their souls. I am certainly not professing to have all the answers to this, but I would like to hear your comments on this in light of the Word, the λόγος, who became flesh and dwelt among us. He did this for something far greater than us just going to a building once a week to gather to hear a sermon, et cetera. No, we are called to be Christians all the time, what we do on Sunday mornings seems to be what has come to define us rather than that, and I think that is wrong.

Soli Deo Gloria!

3 thoughts on “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us

  1. “What we ran it there was that the churches where the Word is rightly divided were not very friendly while the churches where they are all about community were not so hot on getting their doctrines squared away. There seemed to be no balance.”

    It’s happening here in Portland, OR, as well. I’m beside myself trying to find a church where solid, Christ-centered expository teaching is done AND people are so impacted/changed by God’s Spirit through that teaching that their lives just naturally reflect that change. I commented to one pastor of a church I visited that the churches seemed to be swinging from one extreme to the other (either heavy on love and eating cotton candy or heavy on bible teaching and no authentic or loving community). So you’re right, there isn’t any balance and my fear is that it is because churches are too eager to be liked by the world, pastors are too eager to preach what people want to hear, and believers are too bible-ignorant to know better either way.

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  2. This all grieves my heart and I am sure grieves God’s. This is what transpires when we feed on emotions and “experiences” and not truth. We must be set apart in all areas in our lives. Thank you Mike for your ministry

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