When John says the “Word became flesh,” he is referring to God taking on humanity through Jesus. This means that Jesus is eternally one with God (John 1:1-2) and reveals the Father to us as the only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Every Thanksgiving as a child, we’d sit down and watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Movie. I’m not sure if it was the music or the heartwarming ending, but for some reason, I was drawn to the silly rebuttal of commercialism, Charlie Brown's constant cry for the true meaning of Christmas, and Linus’ simple definition of bringing glory to the newborn King. Although Linus so beautifully depicted the true meaning of Christmas by reading from Luke 2:8-14, there is so much more to be said about the newborn King. John 1:14 declares that the “Word became Flesh and dwelt among us,” defining for people everywhere who the King truly is. This is not just good news for the coming Christmas season. This is good news for all people, at all times, everywhere.
What Does John Mean by the 'Word Became Flesh’?
John, the son of Zebedee wrote the gospel according to John. He was one of the original twelve disciples, and his audience originally consisted of both Jews and Gentiles in and around Ephesus. In John's Gospel, he describes who Jesus is and what He has done.
“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.”
When John says the “Word became flesh,” he is referring to God taking on humanity through Jesus. This means that Jesus is eternally one with God (John 1:1-2) and reveals the Father to us as the only begotten Son (John 3:16). The event John is describing in John 1:14 is the most spectacular event in history. God—being completely just, holy, sovereign, infinite, loving, and omnipresent—clothed Himself in humanity and lived among us in Jesus, as one who is both God and man (John 1:18). The “Word became flesh” not only means that Jesus is fully God and fully man but implies that Jesus has fulfilled all Old Testament prophecies.
The ‘Word Became Flesh’ Means That Jesus Fulfills All Old Testament Prophecies
If we believe that the Bible is one unified story about Jesus, then Jesus being born into the world—becoming flesh—does not just mean He was a baby born in a stable, but rather the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies (2 Corinthians 1:20). Starting in Genesis 3:15 Jesus is said to be coming as the rescuer of all humanity from sin and Satan. Jeremiah 23:5 proclaims that Jesus will be from the tribe of Jesse—a king that deals just and wisely with all. Finally, we see in Isaiah 7:14 that Jesus is prophesied to be born of a virgin, having God alone as His Father, and being called Immanuel—God with us. Each of these prophecies is fulfilled as Jesus is conceived by the virgin Mary (Luke 1:28-38), from the line of Jesse (Matthew 1:5-6), and has ultimately defeated sin, Satan, and death as He bore the weight of the world on the cross and rose from the grave. God becoming flesh means the rescuer we needed in Genesis 3:15 has finally come, and He has come to stay and dwell among us.
The ‘Word Became Flesh’ Means That Jesus Dwells Among Us
Believing that Jesus is the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecies, ultimately leads us to believe the truth of what comes after the “Word became flesh”. Jesus came down as a human, but Jesus also dwelt among us and became the greater Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Where Moses provided the first tabernacle and place that God dwelled among His people, Jesus literally dwelt, or ‘tabernacled’ among us—as the ultimate picture of God’s glory and grace (John 1:17).
Jesus dwelled among His creation during His lifetime and sent the Holy Spirit to be with us when He resurrected. In Isaiah 11:2 and 5, Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit would rest upon Jesus, and his prophecy came to fruition in John 1:29-32. As Jesus is being baptized by John the Baptist, we see the Spirit descend and remain on Jesus throughout His ministry. Later, when He rose from the grave, defeating all sin and death, He made way for the Spirit to reside in us also (John 14:15-31).
He not only fulfills God being with His people in the tabernacle and physical temple but through the Holy Spirit makes way for the individual and church to become a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19). Jesus becoming flesh means that God dwells with His people permanently, never leaving us alone.
“All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” - Colossians 1:16-20
The Word Became Flesh Means We Can Experience the Glory, Grace, and Truth of God
Because Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we can experience His glory, grace, and truth through belief in the gospel. Jesus is ultimately glorious, as fully God, fully man, and the ultimate redeemer of all of humanity. Jesus didn’t just come to be clothed in humanity, but He came to live, die, and rise again for our sakes. His sacrifice on the cross reconciled us back to the Father, fully pardoning our sin and providing abundant, joyful life now and into eternity through belief in Him.
If we believe in the resurrection, then Jesus dwelling within us through the Holy Spirit makes it so that we are fully seen and fully known. This means we no longer have to hide in the shame of our past or present, but we can rejoice in the fact that the full wrath of God has been placed upon Jesus in our place. We may seek to cover ourselves, our sin, and our shame, but in Jesus, we are fully seen, fully known, and fully loved. This acceptance is not of our own doing, but of the grace of God. Through belief in the gospel, we become the children of God (John 1:12) and are given the righteousness of Christ in place of our sin and shame. This glory, grace, and truth lead us to exalt God with all that we have and all that we are. We rejoice in His work, trust in His truth, live by His grace, and praise His name alone.
The Word Became Flesh Is the True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas is not about our gifts, or world peace, or the very exaggerated tale of Saint Nicholas. Christmas is the celebration of the long-awaited messiah fully and completely fulfilling this verse in John 1:14. He became flesh, and because He did, He lived and conquered all sin, all shame, and all death for our sakes. Christmas is not just about a sweet babe swaddled up and laid in a feeding trough. Christmas is about what Jesus in the flesh means for every other day of the year. The holiday is simply a reminder to recenter our hearts and mind on the goodness and graciousness of a God who desires all people to know Him and make Him known.
For the glory that was brought forth on Christmas day thousands of years ago, is the same glory we get to experience today. And we get to experience it with even more fullness because we did not just witness His birth, but we get to experience His life, death, and resurrection through the Word of God. We get to place our faith in a God who knows our needs, who experienced our human temptation and pain, who has felt our anxiety, and felt burdened by loss. Christmas is not just about a baby, Christmas is about the God-man who has made His home with us, bestowed His power upon us, provided ultimate joy and satisfaction in His glory, and pardoned our sin to give us life now and into eternity.
Let us not forget this as we go into the holiday season each year. Let us not be tempted to allow our hearts to be calloused to the true meaning of Christmas. For Christmas is ultimately about God’s kingdom coming down from heaven to earth, and about the fulfillment of all promises coming true.
The peanuts gang all come together to sing one song at the end of Charlie Brown, and that is how I’d like to leave us today. With this song written on our hearts, glorifying the King.
Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled." Joyful all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies; With th' angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! the herald angels sing, Christ is born in Bethlehem. Christ, by highest heaven adored Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come Offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th' Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell; Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jchizhe
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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