One of the primary means the world uses to sell us on something is the appealing allurement of a product. The world will try to sell us on the appealing allurement of an experience, an ideology, a person, a community or anything else. Companies spend millions of dollars hiring people to make their company look appealing to the consumer. People buy into these things, because we long to experience beauty. This is why some will visit the Himalayan mountains, others a vacation near the ocean, watch a new production at the theatre, listen to a new album on Spotify, buy our dream home, and a host of other things. Our text today addresses this very issue. Our text today is full of “grace,” but I think it is more in the traditional sense. In early English the word “GRACE” was a reference of beauty.
The grace of God reveals true beauty to us.
1. God’s Glorious Grace—John 1.14.
READ John 1.14—This is probably one of the most profound verses in the entire Bible. One could spend their entire life dwelling on the beauty presented in this verse. John’s Gospel will slowly unveil the truth of this verse to us, but it will only scratch the surface of the full meaning.
Linguistically John uses a word we should all be familiar with by now. In the first 3 verses John told us about the eternal person and ministry of the “WORD.” John painted a picture in those first 3 verses of the greatness of the Word—the supremacy of the Word. Hopefully John has done that so well that the first phrase of John 1.14 becomes profound, “And the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.” As I have mentioned before, pay attention to the verbs. The verbs show us the movement of the verse. The subject of the sentence is the “WORD.” So what is the “WORD” doing? The Word BECAME flesh, and DWELT among us. The eternal, magnificent, supreme, glorious Word became flesh and lived among us.
The word “FLESH” explains to us this glorious Word became weak and frail like us. God came into the world as a humble human. Some of you know I am comic book reader. One of the things you learn about reading comic books is they are commentary on the life. They comment on the world. There is a comic book character I am not a huge fan, but what this character communicates about the world is fascinating. The character I am talking is Superman. Some believe Superman’s secret identity, Clark Kent, is what he thinks of humanity. Here is a hero who is powerful beyond measure, but when he takes human form he is weak and frail. Some of you might be like me and think, “Who is this outsider, this alien, to think so little of the human race?” But the truth is compared to Superman we are weak and frail. Compared to the Word, compared to the God of the universe, we are weak and frail. We should not be resentful about this, but thankful. Superman’s man view of humanity helps him have a heart of compassion. God’s view of humanity is a compassionate one. Listen to what the author of Psalm 78 says:
Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.—Psalm 78.37-39
What drove God to take on flesh and dwell among us? His overflowing compassion. God’s grace drove Him to take on weakness, frailty, and live among us.
“BECAME FLESH” is not the only important verb here. “DWELT” also tells us something significant. For an Israelite this would remind them of the Tabernacle or Temple. They would have images of God’s presence dwelling among them. The glory of God guiding their people through the wilderness.
For all of these reasons this why the author goes on the say, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John takes us even deeper into his mediations on this. John said this gracious act of taking on flesh and dwelling among us was the ultimate display of God’s GLORY. Did you catch that friend? God pursued His glory through taking on weakness. God showed His glory through frailty. God shows us His glory through His Son (II Cor 5.6). Through the coming of Christ God said, “You wanna see how awesome I am, look at my Son. Look at my Son’s willing heart to take on flesh. Look at my Son’s willingness to forsake His own comfort and take Divine punishment for your sins.” Friends, this is GLORIOUS GRACE. This is the most beautiful thing the world has ever seen. This is true beauty.
2. Our Grace Account—John 1.16.
While thinking about this glorious truth is more than enough for us, John explores another aspect—READ John 1.16. What John shows us in verse 16 is God did not just put the glory of His Son on display but this grace comes with a promise. What is that promise? We have received, “GRACE UPON GRACE.”
Think about this verse like a bank account friends. I don’t know if any of you have ever been poor. Maybe you went to college and you lived check to check. When friends wanted to go out to eat, go to a movie, go on a weekend trip, you took a look at your bank account and said to yourself, “No way. I can’t afford that.” Well, John is telling us our grace account always has something in it. Our grace account is full—we have “GRACE UPON GRACE.”
As true as this may be we do not live this way as Christians. Many times we all slip back into the worldly mentality that so easily entangle us. The way we treat each other is not out of our unlimited grace account. No, instead we extend grace to those we deem worthy of our grace. We give our time to people who look like us, talk like us, act like us. Dear friends, is this same glorious grace we saw on display in our Savior? Did Jesus come into this world to be around those who were as holy as Him? Who were attractive as Him? Who were appealing as Him? Who were easy to get along with?
Let’s go a step further, was there even anything appealing about Jesus Himself? Listen to what the author of Isaiah tells us:
…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.—Isaiah 53.2-3
Jesus did not come and just treat people different He fully embodied what a grace filled life looks like. To the naked eye there was nothing appealing about Jesus. Many of the appealing people during Jesus’ day despised Him, rejected Him, hide their faces from Him. Jesus was the person you would try to avoid when you saw Him coming. But why was that? He was unappealing to a world solely focused on external beauty. There are many “beautiful” on the outside but inwardly they are ugly, dark, and full deadly poison. But Jesus understands true beauty and put it on display for us. Jesus was full of grace—grace upon grace.
Jesus’ grace account was so full that He shared it with those who the world despised. Jesus’ friends were those who did not “fit in.” Jesus sees the beauty that our world does not, and He can teach it to us. The Bible is full of this truth. In I Samuel God tells one of His prophets, “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (I Sam 16.7). Paul reminds us in II Corinthians, “From now on…we regard no one according to the flesh” (II Cor 5.16). Friends if you are a Christian then Jesus is offering us beauty around every corner. Are we looking for it? When we are looking for true beauty we will find in places the world does not. We will see attributes in people that are beautiful, because we will see the grace of God in them. But are we looking?
Let me close with this. John did not just mention grace in verse 14, but he coupled grace with “TRUTH.” Many people want beauty without truth, but the thing is you can’t have beauty without truth. You cannot have grace without truth. I can’t see the beauty of my wife without seeing how she truly is. Only through God’s grace can I learn to see her the way God does. The grace of God reveals true beauty to us, if we are willing to receive it. Embrace Christ, the glorious grace of God today friends. Whether you’re a Christian or not, when we truly embrace the glorious grace of God in Jesus Christ it will radically change the way we see the world. God will begin to teach us how to embody God’s grace. We will discover true beauty in places in different people, places, cultures, and so much more. Jesus is FULL of grace, and offers us an endless supply.