The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the dwelling place of God, the Greater and Final Tabernacle where His glory is seen. Moreover, the worship desired of men by the Father takes place “in the spirit and truth.” Access to His presence is no longer limited to the Temple complex in Jerusalem or the ancient Tabernacle carried by Israel in the wilderness.
The relevant statement in John echoes the incident at Mount Sinai when God inscribed His ten “words” on the stone tablets. In Jesus, His word has “become flesh” and manifests in the man from the small and insignificant village of Nazareth.
|[Jesus - Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash]|
As John’s prologue declares - “The Word became flesh and TABERNACLED AMONG US. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of an only-born from a father, full of grace and truth” – (John 1:14).
The Greek verb rendered “tabernacled” in the passage is skénoō (Strong’s - #G4637), meaning “tabernacle, to pitch a tent.” It is related to the noun skéné used for “tent” or “tabernacle” in the Greek Septuagint version of Exodus, the “tabernacle” of Israel before which the nation of Israel worshipped Yahweh in the wilderness.
Thus, in Jesus of Nazareth, God is now “dwelling” or “tabernacle-ing” among His people. As Yahweh commanded Israel, “Construct a sanctuary for me that I MAY DWELL AMONG THEM” - (Exodus 25:8-9, 33:7-11).
In the wilderness, before the Tabernacle, the presence of Yahweh was represented by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
And just as God revealed His presence among the people of Israel in the Tabernacle, so, today, He makes His habitation among His covenant people in His Son, the Nazarene in whom the “word has been made flesh” for all men to see- (Exodus 40:34-35, Numbers 9:15-23).
John continues in his prologue - “we beheld his glory… FULL of grace and truth.” The statement employs further imagery from the Exodus story.
Moses asked Yahweh to show him his “glory,” but no man could “see my face and live,” not even the Great Lawgiver. For that reason, God placed him in the “cleft of a rock” when He passed by, permitting him only to see His “backside” as He descended in the cloud and passed before Moses while proclaiming:
“Yahweh, Yahweh, a God of compassion and grace, slow to anger and ABUNDANT IN LOVING-KINDNESS AND FAITHFULNESS” - (Exodus 33:17-23, 34:1-6).
But today, the glory and radiance of God are revealed in Jesus. Unlike Moses, his disciples behold His full glory in Christ, not just His “backside.” And this is the glory like that of “an only-born from a father…FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.”
The last statement corresponds to the proclamation in the Exodus account that Yahweh is “abundant in loving-kindness and faithfulness.” The glory seen only by Moses is now revealed for all to see in Jesus, the True Tabernacle where God dwells and through whom He manifests HIS UNFILTERED GRACE AND TRUTH.
His presence is no longer restricted to any man-made structure or limited by a geographic location. Jesus is the final place where God reveals His glory and grace, the FULFILLMENT of all that the original Tabernacle foreshadowed - (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4-6).
Thus, the glory of God found in Jesus Christ is full, visible, and available for all to behold, both now and forevermore.