I had to mentally exegete this passage, because there was so much; and in past posts I know I didn’t tap as deeply into passages as I would have liked. This should help. I’m hoping to not only pick the passages apart and give you their individual meanings, but to bring them all together and give you a deeper realization of what they mean as a whole.
The passage was John 1:14-25, that was where the Bible Book Club left off over a month ago. The first 14 verses of John are some of the most incredible words in all of Scripture in my opinion. They are astonishing and profound with both intimate complexity, and childish simplicity. But, then we introduce John the Baptist in verse 15 and this is what it says:
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
In verse 16 it says, paraphrased that we have received the fullness of Jesus Christ. What is that fullness? Well, if we refer back to verse 14, the Bible says that His glory was full of grace and truth. The fullness of Christ, His glory in us is grace. But it doesn’t stop there, it builds upon that basis of God’s glory being the fullness of grace through Christ.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Here we see a contrast between two saviors of Israel. One, an historically revered and respected man who led them out of physical bondage and oppression in Egypt, the other, a praised, simultaneously despised and hated who came to lead them out of spiritual bondage and oppression. Jesus came under the same circumstances as Moses: to a people enslaved and under the rule of an oppressive world power. Yet, Moses’s way to lead them out was through and by the law. The laws of God were the salvation of the Israelites. But Jesus didn’t come to free their bodies, He came to free their minds and open their hearts. His way wasn’t the law, it was grace.
To see these two similar saviors step into history, but by two contrasting methods bring about freedom, it’s almost distracting. The law is the opposite of grace and has been made false in the light of Christ. That’s a lot to take in. Paul puts it this way:
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
–1 Corinthians 15:56
The strength of sin was the law, but no longer is the law the way to God, that is not the truth. Grace through Christ has replaced the law as truth. If the fullness of grace and truth was given by the Father and is in the Son, we then see the Father in His Son: His glory.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Through the son who has declared (made known) the Father, we glimpse the glory of almighty God. And that glory is full of the grace and truth that we received of Christ’s fullness.
Let’s pause there and amass what we’ve learned. What do we know from these verses?
First, the Father is all glory and truth. If He was not, He could not impart an overwelling fullness to Christ that can be given to all men. Secondly, we know that Jesus is Himself a declaration of God the Father and therefore a picture of Him. In Jesus we can see God, and as God had a fullness of grace and truth to give to
Jesus, the Son had an abundance to give us.
Verses 15-19 are John the Baptist’s answer to the Pharisees question: Who art thou?
I love this. It’s so good. John’s life served the single purpose of Prophesying the kingdom of heaven at hand in the man Jesus. I love how he begins not by telling about himself, but by starting with Jesus. The question was: Who art thou? But John knew that his identity was only found in Christ, so to tell them who he was, he needed to tell them who He was.
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
He didn’t deny that he was the Christ, for to deny that would be to deny that Christ was a part of him. Rather, he confessed that he was not Christ, and therefore confessed that there was a Christ and he believed that and believed in Him. It’s important that John confessed he was not the Christ and that he did not deny that he was.
For the next two verses they still want to know about John. John, he doesn’t get it. He just told them of the Christ, of Jesus and they still want to know about him. So they ask him more question and he brushes them off until they get to one where he has another chance to tell of the true Christ. He finds his purpose in life in declaring Jesus’s coming and every chance he gets, that’s exactly what he does.
That’s exactly what we are supposed to do as Christians. Just as John prophesied, and was the forerunner for the first coming of Christ, we also are to prophesy “make straight the way of the Lord” for his second coming to earth. That is our charge as Christians. And whatever we say, and whatever we do, when men come to us asking “who art thou?” We need to realize that we find our identity in Christ, and to tell who we are is to tell who He is.
We’ll be talking about this on Facebook a little bit, so you can join us there for him more discussion, and thoughts on this passage.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist