One of my favorite disciplines of academic theology is Biblical Theology. You might wonder, shouldn’t all theology be biblical? Yes, of course! But whereas systematic theology seeks to delve into specific doctrines (atonement, the theology of the Holy Spirit), Biblical Theology seeks to trace common themes over the whole spectrum of Scripture to see how the whole Bible bears witness to certain topics.
The Gospel of John is a gem of Biblical Theology because John is at heart a poet and an artist. He loves to pull out big themes from the Old Testament and make them poetically shine through his words so that you suddenly see a truth or insight in a fresh way. And if the Gospel of John is an art gallery of Biblical Theology, John 1:14 is the prized piece in the gallery.
Last week we looked at this great theme of “Dwelling” and saw how it is a theme that literally runs from Genesis to Revelation- that God is a God who seeks to dwell with humanity on the earth. The same is true for our theme this week, the theme of the Glory of God. In the Old Testament, God’s people have a conflicted relationship with the Glory of God. They want to see God in all his glory, as Moses prays in Exodus 33:18, “Show me Your Glory.” But at the same time, they can’t ever really get God’s glory. God is too big, we are too small, God is too holy, we are too sinful, God is too mighty, we are too weak. Like a gnat attempting to embrace a flame, we cannot get the glory of God.
But in John 1:14 John says this remarkable statement: “We have seen his glory.” The inescapable and elusive glory of God is finally accessible through the Incarnation, the Word become flesh. In Jesus, we see what all of humanity has always longed to see: the hands, feet, and face of God.
We’ll explore this theme in the sermon and songs this week and discuss its implications for our lives. In preparation for worship, I encourage you to reflect on this remarkable quote from Reformed theologian TF Torrance, which says so much to us about the glory that Jesus reveals:
"There is in fact no God behind the back of Jesus, no act of God other than the act of Jesus, no God but the God we see and meet in him. Jesus Christ is the open heart of God, the very love and life of God poured out to redeem humankind, the mighty hand and power of God stretched out to heal and save sinners. All things are in God’s hands, but the hands of God and the hands of Jesus, in life and in death are the same.”
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John 1:14, 18
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.