John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
There are things that are physically impossible: for example, it is impossible to keep all the wind of this world in one room. It is impossible to pour all the water of the ocean in one bottle. Only the thought of such a task is perplexing.
That is exactly what happens to me when I think about Jesus. It amazes me to think about Jesus being “in the beginning with God” creating the whole universe. John states that “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:1–3 NRSV). Paul puts it this way:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15–17 NRSV).
I imagine Jesus loving His freedom, going from one galaxy to the other and from one planet to the other, without any kind of restriction, enjoying the beauty of His creation. But there was something special about this particular planet, since here is where He placed the crown of His creation. The bearer of His image and likeness was here on earth.
But one day something happened to Adam. He and his wife were deceived by Satan, and as a result they lost their relationship with God, their home in the garden, and the image and likeness of God in them was marred. God sentenced Adam and Eve, but He also gave Eve a promise, that from her offspring will come the one who will strike the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15).
We can see that immediately after the Fall, the plan to confine Almighty Jesus began. The only way this could have been done was by His willful submission to the will of His Father. No one could confine Him against His will. Even Solomon, during the inauguration of the temple, which I think was the first attempt to confine God, exclaimed: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27 NRSV). Solomon could recognize the greatness of God and at the same time the impossibility of trying to confine Him to a building.
But history took its course, and the time of the fulfillment of the promise made to Eve came to pass. Paul says that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4 NRSV). The writer of Hebrews states: “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; (Hebrews 10:5 NRSV).
Isaiah called Him, Immanuel, (7:14) which Matthew translates as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). This means that Jesus, the creator of the world chose to be born like a baby. All the power of God, contained, confined and restrained in a small, frail baby. Jesus had to depend on Mary’s breast to be fed; on Joseph’s strength to be protected. He had to learn to depend on fragile human beings to care for Him as He grew up. But, how was it to be with Jesus?
John testified of Him saying: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
So, to be with Jesus was to be a witness of His glory. His presence was a testimony of who God was, His love for us and His commitment to redeem us from the bondage of Satan. Jesus was God’s only begotten Son offered as the lamb who would take away the sins of the world.
John said that they saw his glory. Jesus manifested His glory showing them the Father. His glory was displayed through miracles performed on behalf of those in need. Jesus healed the leper, He healed the blind man, and He brought back to life some dead people. He showed His glory to Peter, John, and others in the boat, after the miraculous catch of fish, which drove Peter to his knees, asking Him to depart from him for he was a sinful man (Luke 5:8). He also manifested his glory when He transfigured Himself before Peter, James, and John (Mark 9:2–9).
But the time of his departure was coming. He just came to be with us as a man for certain time. For 33 years He lived confined to a human body. I think that He tried hard to control all His power while living among us. After His first sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth, the multitude “thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which the city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.” Something happened there that He just passed through the midst of them and went His way (Luke 4:29, 30). The night that the multitude went to arrest him, He asked: Whom are you looking for? When they replied: “Jesus of Nazareth,” He replied: “I am he.” At this statement, all of them stepped back and fell to the ground” (John 18:4-6). Oh, the glory and power of Jesus! Sinful men cannot stand it. The creatures fell before their Creator. Their strength abandoned them; they could not stand before Him. No wonder Isaiah said: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” If He only said three words, “I am he” and all of them fell to the ground, can you imagine if He would have said a discourse? He had to be silent in order for them to be able to apprehend, judge, and kill Him.
Jesus died, was buried, and for three days remained in the grave, but the first day of the week, death could not hold Him any longer; the tomb could not contain Him anymore, and had to give way to the risen Christ. He came back from the grave to reclaim His former glory which He had before the foundation of the world. After His resurrection, He said to His disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Paul also says that after His humiliation:
God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9–11 NRSV).
Jesus resurrected with a glorified body, with which He ascended to heaven. He was not confined anymore. He was not limited as we are. The same John who saw the glory of Jesus before His death, had a different sight of the glorified Jesus with all His splendor and glory in heaven. This is how he describes Him:
In the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force (Revelation 1:1–16 NRSV).
John’s reaction after seeing the glorified Jesus was:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades (Revelation 1:17, 18 NRSV).
What an affirmation for John. “I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever.” No more confinement. No more restraint. This is Jesus in His full glory, power, and dominion. But Jesus never stops surprising us, since, now, voluntarily, He lives in us, through His Holy Spirit. All the power of God is living in us.
The first coming of Jesus to this world was like a baby. But Jesus is not a baby anymore. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Let’s remember that He is coming back soon for us.
Let’s join John in Revelation who says: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.” Let’s also join Jesus, who reaffirms His promise of coming back. “The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’” And we respond: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:17–20 NRSV).