1:15 (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.’”)
- Christ was above him and that he wasn’t the Christ. He wants to combat any misunderstanding of his own ministry, which is by nature subservient to the ministry of Christ.
- John the Baptist is saying is that even though his ministry was a priori, it was not superior, but rather inferior to Christ’s.
1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
- We know that all good things come from God (James 1:17).
- Morris notes that the word “fullness” indicates, “Christ is the source of all our blessings. There is a hint at the infinite extent of his resources.”
- “Fullness” is not in the active tense to it means really to fill one time. Morris says that the Evangelist probably “prefers to concentrate on our becoming participators in the fullness when we first received Christ.”
- The phrase “grace upon grace” is literally translated “grace instead of grace” and is continuous in the sense that John is likely meaning “that as one piece of divine grace (so to speak) recedes it is replaced by another. God’s grace to his peoples is continuous” (Morris).
- I can personally identify with this in the area of Christ’s forgiveness (Matt.18:21-22).
- But we must not regard forgiveness as the sum total of what it means when Scripture says “fullness.” For the truth is that “fullness” paints a much deeper, richer meaning. It is the fact that we are receiving in Him a life that is “more abundant”, more “conformed to the image of Christ”, indeed as are receiving from Christ every good thing that makes this life worth living at all, and what helps prepare us (sanctify us) for the life to follow.
1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
- Here we see another elusion to Moses, and here we get the full weight of Christ’s superiority. For the way of the law is not superior to the grace bought us by Christ.
- Furthermore, not being under the law, we are not bound to the legalistic standards of the law. This doesn’t mean we have a license to sin (Rom. 6:1-2), but it means that when we do, we can run to the cross of Christ and know that there is full forgiveness there.
1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
- Jesus has united us with God, and reconciled us to God through His atoning work on Calvary. This is the climax of John’s prologue.
- John is reminding us again exactly who we’re talking about here – the eternal God – this is the Being who made us and created all living things. The fact that we as humans have never seen God emphasizes the barrier to knowing Him (Exodus 33:20).
- Calvin helps us understand, “When he says that none has seen God, it is not to be understood of the outward seeing of the physical eye. He means generally that, since God dwells in inaccessible light, He cannot be known except in Christ, His lively image.”
- So when John concludes by telling us that Christ is going to make this God known, it is worthy of us wondering in awe and thankful reverence at the mercy and grace He has poured out upon us. It also points out once again His goodness.
- But more than that, Christ has helped make God known to us because He put flesh and blood to God. He came and showed us what it was like to be a perfect human being, and what it was that God wanted for us. I’m reminded of Joel Olsteen’s book ‘Your Best Life Now.’ Olsteen is perhaps the truest type of antichrist that we can point to in modern terms, but there is a lesson to be learned from his heresy. What we want is a good life. What Jesus wanted for us was the same. The problem is that we had different ways of defining what this means. Christ showed us the true definition, Olsteen shows us Satan’s false one. Jesus, by revealing the nature and character of God, showed us more clearly what kind of life a fulfilled human being ought to live. Jesus lived the most fulfilled human life of all time, and yet he was neither rich, nor comfortable, nor educated, nor powerful (in the way that we desire power). He showed us that true fulfillment in life is to be found in eating of the Bread of Life, and in “doing the will of the Father.”
- We must beware of false christs who whisper lies of material wealth, corporate or political power couched in biblical terms. These are the antichrists and the spirit of this age, and they will not fulfill us. Taking part in these false blessings is like feasting in an open grave.
How do we teach this to our children? If you were to tell your children on the way home today that you learned about how Jesus was and is the Word of God, what would you say?
EXAMPLE: Today we learned about how Jesus gives us all that is necessary to be happy in this life. We talked about how often we get distracted with things like sports, games, books and so on that promise fulfillment and happiness but always end up disappointing us. The reason we can’t find happiness in all these things is because they are just temporary. Basketball and football games end, and the players get old and can’t play anymore. Books get read and get old and fade away. Games get boring. TV shows and movies become outdated, boring, and even silly. But Jesus and His Word (the Bible) are eternal. What does eternal mean? It means to never get old. To last forever. Not only does Jesus last forever, but His promises last forever, and He has promised that if we trust Him as Lord, and surrender our wills to Him, we will live forever in happiness and joy with Him in heaven. It doesn’t mean that life here on earth will be easy, but it does mean that He will always be here to give us joy through difficult times, and encourage our heart when we are sad. His promises never get old or fade away because Jesus never fades away (“He is the same yesterday, today and forever”). That is why we find happiness and fulfillment in Jesus.