33, 34. (a) How do the clergymen argue that the wording of John 1:14 implies an incarnation of the Word? (b) How does Peter’s use of the key word, together with uses of it elsewhere, argue it?
33 The one who was the Word or Logos spent only a brief time among men, less than thirty-five years from the time of his conception in the womb of the Jewish virgin who descended from King David. As An American Translation renders John 1:14: “So the Word became flesh and blood and lived for a while among us.” Clergymen who believe in an incarnation and a God-Man call notice to the fact that the Greek verb translated “lived for a while” has its root in the word meaning “tent” or “tabernacle.” In fact, that is the way that Dr. Robert Young renders the expression, translating it: “And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us.” Since campers dwell in a tent, the clergymen argue that Jesus was still a spirit person and was merely tabernacling in a fleshly body and so was an incarnation, a God-Man. However, the apostle Peter used a like expression about himself, saying: “I think it meet as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance: being assured that the laying away of this my tabernacle is at hand.” (2 Pet. 1:13, 14, Dy) Certainly by such words Peter did not mean he himself was an incarnation. Peter meant he was merely going to reside for a while longer on earth as a fleshly creature.
35, 36. (a) To what existence does John 1:1 refer, and what man first called attention to that? (b) How was Jesus a man coming after John and yet existing before him, and to what did John’s calling him the Lamb of God refer?
THE apostle John opened up his account, saying: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” By that he did not mean the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry on earth nineteen centuries ago. He meant that the Word had a prehuman existence, long before he “became flesh” on earth. John makes that point clear all through his account. More than a month after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, John the Baptist called attention to Jesus and to his previous life, saying: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me. Even I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing in water was that he might be made manifest to Israel.”—John 1:29-31.
36 John the Baptist was born about six months before the Word “became flesh” or was born as the Son of the Jewish virgin. For that reason John said with reference to Jesus: “Behind me there comes a man.” But now, because of what happened to Jesus after John baptized him, John could call Jesus “a man who has advanced in front of me.” So when John said of Jesus: “He existed before me,” John must have meant that Jesus had a prehuman existence. John also pointed out that Jesus was to become a sacrifice to God, for in ancient Israel lambs were daily sacrificed to God by the Jewish priests. In order for Jesus as the “Lamb of God” to take away the sin of the world, his blood would have to flow in sacrifice, for without the shedding of blood of an innocent victim there was no forgiveness of sins obtainable from God.—Heb. 9:22.
37. Why was Jesus able to speak to Nicodemus about heavenly things?
37 On a number of occasions Jesus himself testified to his own existence in heaven before becoming flesh on earth. Thus Jesus was able to speak about “heavenly things,” because, as Jesus said to the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, “no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.”—John 3:12, 13.
38. How, in speaking about manna, did Jesus testify to his previous existence in heaven?
38 Jesus spoke of himself as symbolical manna from heaven and said to the Jews: “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father does give you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” “He also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven.” Many Jews murmured at such sayings of Jesus, and so he surprised them still more when he said: “Does this stumble you? What, therefore, if you should behold the Son of man ascending to where he was before?”—John 6:32, 33, 38, 51, 57, 58, 61, 62.