14 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.15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
I can’t leave this prologue without saying something about vv 14-18. This “Word made flesh” is presented as the way in which we are to experience the divine One. “We have seen his glory”
I have had it suggested to me (by a non-believer) that one of the difficulties in my presentation of God is the issue of limits and boundaries. We know something mainly by knowing what it is not – by knowing where the edges are, where the fences are. An infinite being is almost by definition, unknowable.
I think this is a very helpful way for me to understand “transcendent.” It also helps me understand how Israel understood the Law as a way to understand the otherwise incomprehensible Lawgiver, and one of the purposes of the Incarnation.
To see a light bulb, try looking at it. All you can see is light. You can receive the light, but you cannot comprehend the light source. In order to see the bulb itself, the brightness must be decreased. The letter to the Philippians presents Jesus as laying aside his rightful glory. The Christmas carol “Hark! the Herald Angel Sings!” includes the line “mild, he lays his glory by…” Perhaps by becoming flesh, by laying down the attributes of divinity, God is adopting limits so that we can more fully understand Him. By this, “The only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” And later on, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
This is the role of “The true Light that enlightens everyone”: to make visible the things that cannot be seen. God expressed Himself in flesh, and the divide becomes even more obvious. We can see, if we are willing, who we are. And even more, by limiting himself in the incarnation, “turning the brightness down,” we can see God.