John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
Ancient philosophers from the East and the West have speculated about the Eternal Mind behind our physical Universe. The ancient Chinese call this Mind "Tao" (道), the ancient Hindus call it "Brahman" while the ancient Greeks call it "Logos." Essentially, all these ancient philosophers agree that the Universe is held together by an eternal Mind, which is largely impersonal and immanent in the Universe, the animating Soul behind our physical Universe. Like the human soul that animates the human body, so there is this eternal Soul that animates the physical Universe.
Thus, when the Evangelist John uses Logos (translated into English as Word) in his prologue to the Gospel, he was not writing in a cultural vacuum. He was using the word Logos that was already loaded with this pantheistic concept of a God that creates and animates this Universe. Taking what is essentially a common understanding among ancient philosophers regarding the Universe, John turns this impersonal Mind into a personal Messenger: "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made... And the Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (v.1-3, 14). The Logos is the Creator-God who made this Universe. And this Creator-God has taken on human form in the person of Jesus Christ.
I often hear cynics say, "If there is a God, why don't He show up? Then I'll believe." And God did show up in the flesh in the Man Jesus Christ. When told that God has shown up, usually the same cynics would say, "Nah, not Jesus Christ--how can a mere man be God." While a man cannot be God, there is nothing to stop God from becoming a man.
John is saying that the eternal Logos whom the ancient Greek philosphers have speculated to be behind the Universe has now come out of hiding into full view--for the Logos has taken on flesh: "we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (v.14). In the prologue to his epistle, John writes about this Word whom he and his fellow apostles saw in flesh and blood: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (1 John 1:1-2).
John uses two words to describe this "Word made flesh" (Jesus Christ): "full of grace and truth." When we look at the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, we are awed by the God's creative power: "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" (Rom 1:20). But these "invisible attributes" reflect his transcendent qualities. But when the Word became flesh, God reveals His immanent qualities described as "grace and truth."
If Jesus Christ has not come, we would still not understand what God is like. But Jesus Christ came to reveal the Father and show us the personal side of God: "in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb 1:2-3).
If we can only believe God if He shows himself--well, He has done so more than 2,000 years ago. If we want to know what God is like, look no further than Jesus Christ: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9),
Jesus Christ is God in the flesh: whenever he speaks, God speaks. Whatever he has taught, God's authority is fully behind him. He is more than just God's spokeperson--He is God speaking.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that You have come down not just to point us to God but to show us what God is like--full of grace and truth. Amen.