“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
John’s introductory comments to his gospel are meant to shock his readers. The Creator of human flesh became human flesh and dwelt among us. The word John uses, skenao, means “to live in a tent.” John tells us Jesus “tabernacled” or “pitched his tent” among us. He camped out with us for 33 years.
The shekinah glory that had fallen on Moses’ OT tabernacle tent in the wilderness was now seen in the glorious tabernacle of Jesus’ “tent.”
Even the order of this character description was meant to surprise John’s readers. Jesus was full of grace and truth: Grace comes before truth. This was something different. The entire Jewish religion was built on truth, but grace wasn’t nearly as well recognized. For them, God was truth mixed with some grace.
Jesus showed us that God is grace and truth. We humans tend to forget one or the other…or we emphasize one over the other. But really, we need both.
Truth without grace can often seem harsh. Think of the Pharisees looking to execute the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:1-11). And grace without truth can often seem cavalier. Think of Paul’s criticism of the wealthier members of the Corinthian church who arrived early and ate all the food at the potluck before the families with menial jobs even got off work (see 1 Cor. 11:17-22).
We live in a world that tends to promote one at the expense of the other. The reality is that if we want to look and act like Jesus, it is not either grace or truth, rather both grace and truth that are needed.
Let’s talk about it Sunday!