Grace Upon Grace
Grace Upon Grace
We continue our series on the Stained Glass windows that are found at St. Andrew’s. Today’s window has a passage from Johns Gospel: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Scripture: John 1: 1-18
Today we have a passage from scripture that is poetic and lyrical. It delights us the way that rolls of the tongue. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I will tell you that in the original Greek it rolls off the tongue just as easily. The opening of John’s gospel is a delight. It takes us back to the beginning, to the words we find in Genesis. It is in many ways a bridge between Old and New Testaments. A reminder of our connections and thoughts about our relationship with God.
It is also a Christmas story. Though it is not the nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus that we commonly hear, this is a story about how Christ came into the world. Not as an innocent baby who had a silent night, but as a manifestation of God’s living Word come to dwell with us. To illuminate God’s message for us in very real and corporeal ways.
It is also a passage that finds itself on a window here at St. Andrew’s. As we continue our series on the Stained Glass Windows that adorn the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s we turn our attention to the words, ‘And the Word became flesh…’ Words that we find recorded in the prologue of John’s gospel.
Now, before we dive in deep I want to cover off a few points that I find really interesting in this passage and with our windows in general.
First, we acknowledge that this passage from John’s gospel allows us to realize the incarnation of God. God living and dwelling among us, demonstrating and correcting the ways that the law has been misunderstood. That’s important.
You will recall early in Luke’s gospel when Jesus begins his ministry he reads the following from Isaiah:
Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
After stating this Jesus rolls up the scroll and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
When the original readers and listeners of this passage heard ‘God’s Word’ ‘The Word made flesh’ they would have though instantly about the Old Testament and God’s law as we find it there. Jesus is the living manifestation of God’s law. That’s important and we if we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we find that it teaches us something very important. Because Jesus puts grace, hold on to that word as we are going to come back to it in a bit, grace, love and mercy at the forefront of everything that he does.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and one of the interesting things about that is it is the third time in four sermons that I have mentioned Luke 4. As we worked our way through the windows on the East wall I mentioned Luke 4 in two of those sermons. I have also mentioned the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in three of four sermons.
There is a theme occurring in these windows. Those who came before us are telling us a story about what they believed about Jesus. Telling the world what they believe to be an important truth. These windows aren’t just meant to be attractive or eye catching, they tell a story about who we are.
In John 1 we find another explanation of what we believe about Jesus. About who he is, why he came and the implications of that. We often think of the ‘word’ as beings something written, in this instance John tells us it is being lived out before us.
This passage is God telling us, “This is who I am!” (Working Preacher)
It removes the doubt, the questions about God and provides us with something tangible that we can understand. Something that we can see and touch. It reminds us of the importance of creation to God, that God would come and dwell amongst us.
The light shines in the darkness. God will not abandon us or leave us alone.
The true light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. Jesus is the Word, the true light, Jesus illuminates our lives. Brings hope, peace and understanding.
Now, our window reads, ‘and the word was made flesh’ which is found in verse 14. I want to read verse 14 and then through to 18 for you and I’ll explain why in a moment.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Karonline Lewis writes the following, “The word Grace is only used 4 times in John’s Gospel (John 1: 14, 16, 17) and only in the prologue. Once the Word becomes flesh, grace is then incarnated in the rest of the Gospel. That is the entirety of the Gospel will show what grace looks like, tastes like, smells like, sounds like and feels like…For John, God in becoming flesh in Jesus has committed God’s self not only to revealing what God’s grace looks like, but that God wants to know it and feel it as well.” (Working Preacher)
What do we believe about God?
What do we believe about Jesus Christ?
We believe that Jesus came, the physical manifestation of the Law and that through his every act the grace of God was on display. That if we look to the actions and words of Jesus we can find the truth of what we believe and how we ought to act. That is what we believe, that is the message of this window given to us by the saints who came before us. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.