And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. John 1:14
“Mild He lays His glory by.” These words from “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, the well-known hymn writer of the 1700s, speak of what Jesus did when He was born as a babe in Bethlehem. Yet, John said here in verse 14, “We beheld His glory.” Through that thin veil of flesh, just on the other side, there was the glory. And throughout each of the Gospels, we see its manifestations.
Son of Thunder
We will consider these in a bit, but let us first consider the person writing these words. John, who later would refer to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, was nicknamed a son of thunder. He was apparently a bit of a hothead, somewhat bossy, and a bit exclusive in his thinking. Yet, he witnessed healings that others didn’t. He was present on the Mount when Jesus was transfigured. He and Peter were the first men to see the empty tomb. So when John says, “We beheld His glory,” there’s weight behind his statement.
The word “glory,” taken from the Old Testament, actually means “weighty.” The word in Hebrew refers to something of substance. So when Jesus chose to reveal His glory, it was substantive.
Turning Water Into Wine
John writes in his second chapter about the first miracle that Jesus performed. He and His disciples were in Cana, and Jesus turns the water into wine. Why would Jesus do something like that as His first miraculous act? Some think it’s kind of strange. But if we stop and think about it, Jesus is here exerting creative power. Only God can create. He took water and turned it instantly into wine. “This beginning of signs Jesus did … and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The disciples understood in this act that they’d witnessed something beyond anything they’d ever seen before. “We beheld His glory.”
A Little Ship on the Stormy Sea
His glory was manifested when He stood in the bow of the little ship on the stormy sea, and the disciples were fearful that they would perish. Jesus stands and rebukes the wind and the waves. And you remember, they all looked at one another and said, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:41). “We beheld His glory.”
John witnessed Jesus raise people from the dead. The daughter of Jairus. The widow of Nain. But the most memorable is the raising of Lazarus. “We beheld His glory.”
I mentioned earlier the transfiguration. Peter, in writing his epistle, points back and says, “We were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:18). We saw, we heard the voice from heaven, and there He was transfigured. The glory of His inner person burst through the flesh, and they saw Jesus momentarily glorified. Moses and Elijah appeared with Him, and it was there that Peter said, Lord, it’s good for us to be here. Let us build three tabernacles! But the voice of the Father speaks and says, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
Another manifestation of His glory is seen in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18). The soldiers come to arrest Jesus, and He says to them, “Whom are you seeking?” “Jesus of Nazareth!” they say. And Jesus answers, “I am.” At His word, they drew back and fell to the ground. John was there. He saw that these men who had come to arrest Jesus were absolutely powerless in His presence. They were crushed beneath the weight of His glory.
On the Cross
On the cross, we see the ultimate demonstration of His glory. How? Because it’s on the cross where the Prince of glory died. There, He took upon Himself the sins of the world. There, He secured our salvation and crushed the head of the serpent. The cross was the central place where His glory was manifested.
Then, He rose from the dead, showing to all that the cross was not a defeat but instead, His greatest victory. He later ascended into heaven, and today, right now, there is a Man seated on the throne of heaven waiting to pour out His grace and truth upon you. This Christmas, exchange the heaviness of your sin for the eternal weight of His glory!