The first chapter of John’s gospel elaborates on the incarnation of Jesus Christ more than any other passage in the Bible. John wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the absolute revelation of God in human form: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NKJV).
“The Word” is the Logos, Jesus Christ Himself. He became “flesh,” meaning the divine Son of God became human, like us (Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). God revealed Himself to the people of the world through His Son, Jesus. Christ showed us God’s glory. “We have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son,” states the New Living Translation. The author of Hebrews further illuminates: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (Hebrews 1:3, NLT).
The statement that “we beheld His glory” links Jesus to the Old Testament wilderness tabernacle. At this earthly tent of meeting, Yahweh’s divine presence and glory dwelled and visibly manifested among the people of Israel. They saw His glory in the fire, pillar of smoke, and cloud (Exodus 40:34). In the New Testament, God’s glorious presence was made visible in the living Word, who was clothed in flesh and “tabernacled” among us in the person of Jesus Christ. John 1:14 actually uses a form of the Greek word for “tabernacle” to describe Jesus’ taking on human flesh.
Jesus revealed His glory for the first time publicly at the wedding in Cana, and, as a result, “his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11, NLT). Mathew and Luke recorded the scene of Christ’s transfiguration when Peter, James, and John beheld a glimpse of His unveiled glory (Matthew 17:2; Luke 9:32). Peter testified firsthand to the transfiguration: “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy’” (2 Peter 1:16–17, NLT).
When John said, “We beheld His glory,” he was giving eyewitness testimony to the incarnation—that God Himself had come to earth embodied in the Son: “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life” (1 John 1:1, NLT).
Not only John, but all the disciples had seen Jesus and beheld His glory with their own eyes. These apostles could all testify that the Father had sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). Other teachers were likely spreading false ideas about Jesus and contradicting the truth of the incarnation. But the teachings of John and the other disciples were trustworthy because these men had firsthand experience hearing, seeing, and touching Jesus (John 19:35).
The miracles of Jesus revealed God’s glory (John 11:4, 40). The word for “glory” in John 1:14 means “a state of high honor.” Those who witnessed Christ’s miracles—those who beheld His glory—saw and understood that God was worthy of the highest honor and praise (John 4:53; 9:38; 20:29). The suffering and death of Jesus also revealed God’s glory (John 17:1, 5; Romans 8:18). Everything Jesus did brought praise and honor to God so that all who beheld His glory and believed in Him received His gift of salvation (John 12:16; 13:31–32; 20:30–31; Philippians 2:9–11; Ephesians 1:12).
Paul taught that Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers so they cannot behold God’s glory or understand the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. They “are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT). But praise God, who through Jesus Christ our Lord lets His light shine in our hearts so we can “know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT).