“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). I love being on a high mountain, on a tall building, or in a plane looking down on where I act out my daily routine, looking dow n on my house, neighborhood, and city. Such a panorama gives me a new perspective on my existence. Remember the first time you saw a view of the earth from a satellite, one of those marvelous pictures taken from space? Before the twentieth century, no human could see his location from that distance and angle. The apostle John, in his gospel, gives us a new position from which we can view the life of Jesus. Matthew and Luke begin their stories of Jesus with His conception and birth in Nazareth and Bethlehem. John begins his narrative with the Son of God in eternity before the universe was created. Before He took on flesh, the Son of God lived with the Father and the Holy Spirit in glory. The Son of God was the Word who became flesh (John 1:14). In the beginning, the Son of God was with God and was God (v. 1).
The life of Jesus as man began when He was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit. However, the Son of God has no beginning. He is from eternity. How Jesus can be true God and true man is a mystery. We cannot get our minds around it. We can know for certain that before the Son of God took on flesh, He was the eternal Son with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Louis Berkhof, the brilliant Dutch theologian, wrote, “It is not possible to speak of the incarnation of one who had no previous existence.” He explained that Jesus did not acquire deity; rather, the eternal Son of God took on humanity — two natures, one person.
Focusing our attention on the Son of God in eternity before creation may seem unrelated to our everyday lives as Christians. Yet His life in eternity before the incarnation speaks to us about vital relationships, purpose in this world, and our future glory.
The Son of God lived in glorious oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the incarnation, He came to draw us into that intimate and fulfilling relationship: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12). The Son came that we might know and enjoy a close relationship with God as our Father.
What was the Son doing before the incarnation? He was dwelling in communion with the Father and the Spirit, and executed, in time and space, His will in creation. For “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (vv. 3–4). Go out on a dark night and look at the Pleiades, the Big Dipper, Mars, and Jupiter — these are the works of His omnipotent hands.
In the incarnation, the creating Son came to redeem and restore His creation. His miracles were designed to prove His divine identity. With each miracle He was declaring, “So that you may know I am the eternal Son.” He made the blind to see, the paralyzed to walk, and the dead to live. His miracles also demonstrated His purpose to redeem and restore His creation. Everywhere the creator Son saw the effects of the fall on His creation, and He repaired the wounds and injuries, and pushed back the darkness.
The Son has called us to be a part of the redemption of His creation. He has called us to take the light of the gospel to the dark world. He has commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring relief to the poor. Just as the Son called us into intimate fellowship with God, He has called us to follow Him in redeeming His creation.
From eternity, the Son had shared in the majestic glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus yearned to return to that glory: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (17:4–5).
Through the incarnation, we were drawn into that glory. Remember what the Father said of the Son when He was transfigured before the disciples: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 17:5). The Father’s commendation was glory to Jesus. Just so, Jesus will confess us before all of earth and heaven: “They are with Me. They are Mine.” He will commend us before the Father, before the angels, before the archangels — that will be the greatest glory we have ever known. Sometimes we speak of the glory of the Rocky Mountains or the glorious sunset at the seashore. God shall call all of heaven to look at the beauty of His redeemed. We will be dressed in the righteousness of Jesus: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Such will be our glory.
Every part of our lives as His disciples is an extension of the life of the pre-existent Son. The Son calls us into His eternity, to live in harmonious union with Him, to participate in the redemption of creation, and to be a part of His glory.