We finally find out who the mystery man behind the curtain is. Who is “The Word” that the author has been talking about for the first 13 verses? It’s God Himself who became a human person and lived here with us. But anybody with eyes could tell this was no mere man. In him it was easy to see that he was full of the glory of God Almighty himself. Now that’s quite a statement. The being who was both with God in the beginning, who was God himself, the Creator of all there is, transitioned to human flesh. He was a human personality who was visible, audible, and tangible. He took on not only flesh and blood, but the limitations of space and time as well as the physical handicaps of fatigue, hunger, and susceptibility to suffering. In other words, he had a full-on human nature along with his full-on divine nature. The term John chose to use here is a bit interesting: Jesus built a tabernacle in our midst. His body was the dwelling place of God in the middle of his people. It was God who could be seen—literally, God with us. Dude.
It takes your breath away. God you can see. God you can listen to and touch. But those who don’t receive him recognize nothing of who he is (v. 10). But those who receive him—who believe in his name—see his glory, full of grace and truth. It’s not a matter of seeing what one wants to see, but of having one’s eyes opened to see what is truly there.
Did they ever get to see the cool-o part of his glory? Sure. On the Mount of Transfiguration, he glowed like the sun. In the authority of his teaching, they saw someone from heaven itself (Jn. 3.2). In his resurrection body, able to walk through doors, and proving life after death. In his ascension into heaven, rising into the clouds. And in his blood sacrifice, as the Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world.
He had the glory of the One and Only (“the only begotten”) of the Father. Gilbert Bilezikian says, “God is Father, but he never had a wife. Christ is the eternal Son, but he has no mother. Sons are always born within time, but Christ is without a beginning. Father are always older than their sons, but Father and Son are eternal. Sons normally outlive their fathers, but the Son and the Father are immortal. This term refers to the necessity of the incarnation.” John clearly means to say that everything the people saw in Jesus was, as it were, the glory of the Eternal Father shared with his only Son.
He was not a cheap imitation of deity or a blurry mirror image (1 Cor. 13.12). He was not so empty (Phil. 2.7) that he no longer had the divine nature. He was bursting with glory—bubbling over with it. He was love and light and life and grace and truth shining like a lighthouse on the oceanside on a dark and stormy night, and the darkness was swallowed up by his beam.