Word Made Flesh

The prologue of John’s Gospel presents key themes that are explained in the book. And most critically, Jesus is the “word made flesh” in whom life and light are found. He is the true “tabernacle” where God’s “glory” dwells. And John employs imagery from the history of Israel to illustrate what God did in His “only born Son.”

Since his death and resurrection, Jesus is the place where the presence of God is found and His glory is manifested for all men to see. And the “word made flesh” is the means of access to God, the greater Tabernacle and Temple where true worship of the Father takes place “in spirit and truth.”

Access to the Divine “glory” is no longer confined by the physical walls of the old Temple “made-with-hands,” or centralized in the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus of Nazareth is the “Word made flesh that tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of an only-born from a father, full of grace and truth” - (John 1:14, 1:47-51, 2:13-22, 4:20-24).


The living word of God is embodied in this flesh and blood human so all men may see the divine nature writ large in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In his words, deeds, death, and resurrection, the true nature of God is displayed before the entire world.

John’s description of the “word tabernacling among us” echoes the incident at Mount Sinai when God inscribed His ten “words” on stone tablets. In Jesus, the word of the God of Israel is now written in “flesh,” in the man Christ Jesus.

The Greek verb rendered “tabernacled” in English versions of the passage is skénoō, and it means “to tabernacle; to pitch a tent.” It is related to the noun skéné for “tent,” the same term used in the Greek Septuagint translation of the book of Exodus for the “tabernacle” in the wilderness. Thus, in Christ, God “tabernacles” with his people.

In the book of Exodus, Yahweh commands Moses to “construct a sanctuary for me that I may dwell among them,” a portable structure fashioned “according to all that I am going to show you, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings.” In obedience:

  • Moses “Proceeded to take a tent and pitch it by itself outside the camp… and he called it, the Tent of Meeting… it came to pass, that when Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud came down and stood at the opening of the tent” - (Exodus 25:8-9, 33:7-11).


In the Septuagint version of Exodus, the “Tent of Meeting” is the skéné martyriou or “tent of witness,” the place where the presence of Yahweh was seen in the pillar of cloud. And just as He revealed His presence among the people of Israel in the Tabernacle, so, now, He makes His habitation among them in Jesus - (Exodus 40:34-35, Numbers 9:15-23).

And John states that “we beheld his glory… full of grace and truth.” This employs further imagery from Exodus and echoes Yahweh’s self-description.

Moses asked Yahweh to show him his “glory.” He responded that neither Moses nor any man “can see my face and live,” and therefore, He placed Moses in the “cleft of a rock” when He passes by, permitting him only to see His “backside.” He descended in the cloud and passed before Moses, proclaiming, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God of compassion and grace, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and faithfulness” - (Exodus 33:17-23, 34:1-6).

But from now on, the glory of God is revealed in Jesus, a proposition that John expands on in his gospel account. In it, and unlike Moses, the disciples see the full glory of God, not just His “backside,” a glory he compares to that of “an only-born from a father” - (John 17:24).

And the glory manifested in the man from Nazareth is “full of grace and truth,” a statement that corresponds to the proclamation by Yahweh as he passed before Moses - “abundant in loving-kindness and faithfulness.

Thus, the glory briefly glimpsed by Moses, and from a distance, is now fully disclosed in Jesus, the “only-born Son of God.” He is the True and Greater Tabernacle in whom God dwells, the one through whom He manifests His unfiltered grace and truth to humanity.

And with his arrival, God’s presence is no longer restricted to the ancient Tabernacle or any later manmade structure. No longer is it restricted to any geographic location. The wilderness structure and the Jerusalem Temple “made with hands” have been rendered obsolete and superfluous by what God achieved in His Son - (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4-6).

The old Tabernacle was glorious and revealed much about the nature of God. Nevertheless, its glory and access to it were always limited. In contrast, the glory found in Jesus is full, visible, and available for the entire world to behold and believe.


Suffering Servant

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