And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory…
"The Word became flesh": such is St. John's statement. In order to understand the statement thoroughly, we must ask: First, what does St. John mean by "The Word?" And, secondly, what does he mean when he says, that "The Word was made," or "became," "flesh?" In the previous verses of the chapter St. John has been speaking of the Word, though only in the fourteenth verse does he begin to speak of the Word Incarnate. But St. John has much more to say than this. He refers all creation to the instrumentality of One whom he calls the "Word;" whom, afterwards, he calls the "Light"; and presently as Incarnate, the "Son." Moving on, step by step, St. John at this point introduces another thought. All creation is expressive; but one part of Creation is more expressive than another. Creation is not a dead level, but an ascending series. First the inorganic and inanimate world; then the living being; then the self-conscious life of man. "Things" first; then, "life": then, "light"; that is, persons, existence, self-conscious, rational and moral. "All things were made by Him." "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." All is by the Word, expressive: but into the life which is the light of men — that is to say, which in men becomes self-conscious, intelligent, capable of reflecting the Maker's image, He, the Word, can pat more meaning, more expression, than he could into the inorganic creation; and so can render it more significant, more declaratory of the Divine thoughts, mind, and will. From the creative Word St. John passes to the indwelling Light, that "true Light, which (as he says) lighteth every man." He who is the creative Word is also the indwelling Light. He who is the fount of all being, is also the light of man's being, the illumination of reason and conscience, the son of his soul. So it has been since the Incarnation. And so it was before the Incarnation. Whatever the physical basis of life may be, the metaphysical basis of life is ever one and the same, even the Divine eternal Word. The Word, who was in the beginning, and was in the beginning with God, did not make man, as man makes a thing — a piece of furniture, or a house, or what not — turning it out of hand, and so leaving it to shift for itself. In the moment of creation He became to man the mysterious basis of that strong mysterious thing which we call life; the indwelling light, through whose guidance and illumination man might know God, and become like God. So wondrous, so subtle, so passing thought, are the ties which bind man to Him who made him! In this way, all those long ages before the Incarnation, He was in the world — a world made by Him, yet a world which knew Him not
II. And now we can safely address ourselves to the second part of our subject, and inquire what St. John means, when he says that "The Word became flesh." That the Word — being what He has been from the first, and still is, to man, the metaphysical basis of life, the indwelling light — should Himself become a man, and dwell for some thirty-three years amongst men, full of grace and truth, need not surprise us; ought to be no stumbling-block to us; has nothing incredible or unnatural about it. Certainly it would be in the highest degree unnatural and incredible and monstrous, that the Word should become man, if that Word were not, by original constitution, so intimately related to man, But once see the spiritual constitution of man in this living and life-giving Word of God, as John and Paul saw it, and the Incarnation becomes not only unnatural, but, in the highest sense of the word, natural; not merely not incredible, but eminently credible, because so entirely in accordance with man's needs, and with God's original constitution of human nature. The Light that was only inward; and, being only inward, was dimmed and almost quenched by man's darkness; must needs become outward also, in order that it may shine in all its native purity and strength, and shining thus may reveal God to man, and man to himself. And how could it thus become outward, save in a human life; that sweet and lovely and altogether exquisite human life which the Gospel pages mirror to us? There, in those pages, the inward voice of conscience becomes an outward voice also; the latter attested by the former, the former cleared and deepened and intensified by the latter. The voice of Jesus, be sure, has its echo within every one of us. On this same Rock of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, Life, and Light, we can securely build all the other truths of our most holy faith; the Fatherliness of God, the brotherhood of men, and all else that most concerns us to know and believe for our souls' health. Wherever, in human nature, there is a trace or vestige of light, there we have a manifestation of the presence of the indwelling Word, the same Eternal Word, who dwells in our souls as Light.
(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.