"Full of Grace and Truth"
John 2:1-11; 1:14, 16, 17
"Manifested his glory," (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."
Following very closely upon our meditation in chapter 1, we proceed to a further emphasis upon the manifestation of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
If the first part of the first chapter is occupied with introducing and presenting Christ in the eternity and in the universality of His Person, and that all that is brought to us in the content of His humanity, when - as the word here literally is - "He pitched His tent among us," if that is the great thing and the basic thing, all that follows is the breaking up and applying of that. Christ eternal, Christ universal, brought down into human life, and by reason of pitching His tent among us, bringing us into fellowship with Himself in His eternity and His universality, thus becoming in our own life the all, and in all, from the Father's standpoint. To catch some of the meaning of that will make the greatest difference possible in our experience.
Glory in Terms of Grace and Truth
The apostle, long years after, writing this gospel says: "We beheld his glory" (we contemplated, gazed upon His glory). Then he gives some definition of it: "...glory as of the only begotten from the Father," that is parenthetical; and then - "full of grace and truth." "We beheld his glory ... full of grace and truth." What was it that "we" of that sentence beheld? What was it that was contemplated, gazed upon by the disciples? It was glory interpreted in terms of grace and truth.
There is a naked glory of God which, breaking in measure upon men from time to time, has rendered them as dead in its presence, a thing of unbearableness to the natural man. It was not so in this case. John later in the Apocalypse saw that glory of the exalted Lord and fell as dead at His feet, but when he - with others here included - beheld, contemplated His Glory, it was not that glory, it was glory interpreted in terms of grace and truth. It was, as we said, the glory of God as through the prism of His humanity. It was the glory of God showing itself through a human life along the lines of grace and truth.
Now you notice a comparison and a contrast is drawn here immediately by the apostle in this very connection. He says: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ," and that is connected with the tabernacling among us. The tabernacle which enshrined the law which came through Moses in the wilderness was the place of the Shekinah glory, and when the Shekinah glory came, by the coming of the law through Moses, it was a glory which was intolerable. You know what the apostle says in the letters to the Hebrews and Corinthians, that even the people besought that they might no more hear that sound, so terrible was it, and Moses had to put a veil over his face because they could not look upon him or that glory (Hebrews 11; 1 Corinthians 3). It was intolerable glory which meant destruction, not salvation; which did not mean life but death; even a beast if it touched the mountain would be slain. You see glory can be a terrible thing, and when we pray "Show me Thy glory" we must do so in terms of grace and truth as in the gospel by John. I mean the revelation of God by Jesus Christ. It would be death, destruction.
Well, the Shekinah glory coming to the tabernacle of old in the coming of the law, the enshrining of the law, was a glory intolerable. But here is a tabernacle ("He tabernacled among us"), another tabernacle in this wilderness, in which, in Whom, is the Shekinah glory, the same glory, the glory of God, but interpreted in terms of grace and truth; not intolerable, not to destruction, not to judgment, but unto salvation; the same glory. But, oh! how the glory differs in its coming to us through Moses and through Christ!
The Church - A Company Who Have Seen
Now, this glory being contemplated was formative of a people; that is the object of it. That is, the revelation of this glory in Christ, in terms of grace and truth, was to constitute disciples, the nucleus of the Church, and to lead on to the whole Body of the Church. "This beginning of his signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory; and HIS DISCIPLES BELIEVED ON HIM." That was the object of it. It was to constitute discipleship; that is, a company of taught ones. How were they to be taught ones, the instructed ones? Not by receiving a whole list of orders: "Thou shalt," and "Thou shalt not"; not a creed, a rule of life to be imposed upon them; that is, not just Christianity, but to be brought by the Lord Himself into the inner realities of His own Being, what He is. He, the Tabernacle, with the Shekinah glory enshrined in terms of grace and truth, is going to manifest that glory along the line of living fellowship with Himself in what He is. The Church has ever been, in the thought of God, intended to be a company of taught ones in that sense, those who know along experimental lines what the Lord Jesus is. That is simple. It gets away from a great deal of the complication of ecclesiastical systems and brings us down to personal relationship to the Lord. "...And manifested his glory," it says here. Quite a proper, legitimate, permissible way of paraphrasing that statement would be to say: He showed forth His grace and truth, for that was His glory. If you see the grace and the truth which the Lord Jesus is you at once apprehend His glory. I mean this; go to Cana of Galilee and be one of the people there, specially one of the responsible people, and get delivered out of your dilemma in this way, and you will be a happy person. You will be full of praise and thankfulness. You will say: "We had a great deliverance; what would have happened if He had not done it?" That is seeing the glory of Christ, being filled with the glory of Christ, glorifying Christ in your heart, you become full of His glory. But of course it is an insight into Who He is, not just a happy deliverance from a difficult situation.
Follow through John with any of those great interventions of the Lord Jesus in times of need, trouble, distress, suffering, sorrow, death; get the issue of it in the heart of the one concerned, and what is the effect? A rejoicing in the Lord, a worshiping of the Lord, an adoration of the Lord; saying, What a wonderful Lord He is! You have beheld His glory. You have got a correspondence in you with something that He is, the greatness of Christ. You have been brought into that by some expression of Him along the line of grace and truth.
(continued with # 6 - "The Great Inclusive "Sign")