John 1:14-17 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father), full of grace and truth; (John bears witness of him, and he has cried, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me;) for of his fulness we all have received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given by Moses: grace and truth subsists through Jesus Christ.
In the verses just preceding this passage, John told us of the great paradox: The Creator of the Universe stepped into His creation, and His creation, by and large, didn’t recognize Him. Yet, for the plan of salvation to succeed, each one of us has to meet Him face to face and accept who He is. Without that meeting there can be no believing and without believing there can be no eternal life.
How is it possible? How could we not notice the presence of the Infinite God?
If you like mathematics or you are like me, a Physicist or an Engineer, you understand one fact about infinity: You can’t miss it! In Calculus, the presence of an infinity at a point on the axis can make it impossible to integrate a function. In Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, the presence of infinities, or as we call them, poles, define the behavior of structures (like bridges) and the performance of electronic filters. If you like Astronomy, those singular infinities we call black holes appear to be key to the formation of galaxies in the universe.
What common sense tells you, is true: It should be impossible to miss the presence of the Infinite God walking in our midst. Yet, so many of us did. How?
There is only one way: God Himself willed it. Only God could pull off that incredible incognito (as SK calls it). Using His infinite power, God cloaked His full being in finite flesh, so perfectly, that no one could tell that this was anything but another man.
As Paul the apostle tells us:
Philippians 2:5-8 …Christ; who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself, taking a bondman’s form, taking his place in [the] likeness of men; and having been found in figure as a man, humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and [that the] death of [the] cross.
I underlined some key words there because the way we use them today in English can miss the point. The word “form” is morphe. To the Greeks that does not mean just shape, it is used in the figurative sense of intrinsic nature; the form is the outward expression of the inner essence. To the full degree that He was God, to that same degree He became a slave (bondman), taking on the “likeness” (homoioma) of a human being, so that in all appearance, “figure” (shape), and fashion of life (schema), He was a man.
Why did God do this? Paul gives the answer immediately: Only as a man could He die for the sins of the world. But also, only as a man could He ensure that the choice He came to ask us to make would not be coerced. I have already written about the latter, so I won’t go there today.
Today, the key “Why?” question is, why would God take such a risk, the risk to be misunderstood? Indeed, if the God of the Universe willed Himself to be incognito, humanly unrecognizable as God when He walked among us, how could He expect any of us to penetrate the veil and believe? That’s not fair.
Yet, as John told us immediately (last time), there were those who received Him and believed. How did they do it? Did God play favorites?
No, He did not.
The problem with claiming “it’s not fair” is that that claim depends on your assumptions. If you choose to believe human beings are nothing but highly evolved apes, living in a purposeless universe where existence is purely material, then yes, I agree, such beings could not possibly penetrate the veil. But then again, in that worldview, God does not exist… How could the actions of a nonexistent entity be judged unfair?
But, if humanity is more than matter, if spirit is a real component of our makeup, then we are not limited to seeing only with our eyes. Yes, the God-man was to the eye, to the ear, to the touch, an ordinary man. But to the spirit of those who heard His words, even to his enemies (Luke 4:22), the graciousness of His words was undeniable.
It was undeniable then, it is still undeniable today, if we open our ears to listen. This is why John says with complete conviction: …and we beheld the glory of Him, a glory of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth… For from the fulness of Him we all have received then grace for grace. For the Law through Moses was given; grace and truth through Jesus Christ came. (Literal translation.)
And that’s the point: Indeed, the Infinite has consequences. When the Almighty Spirit chose to walk among us, our spirits felt it! When the Almighty Spirit speaks today, those whose spirits long for grace and truth hear it. It is up to us to listen.