John 1:15-18 The Son Shows Us God WC McCarter
How is your Christmas season going thus far? What words would you use to describe your recent weeks? Stressful, busy, tiring, hectic, busy. . . . Wonderful, joyful, fun. . . . The world, influenced greatly by Satan, tries everything it can to distract us from the Christ of Christmas. There are so many things flashing before us in order to divert our attention away from our Lord Jesus Christ who is the reason for the celebration. We have tried over the last couple of weeks to focus our attention on the Christmas story of the Bible. We have looked at the more spiritual and theological Christmas story found in the Gospel of John. We are focusing our attention on the Word-become-flesh who dwelt among men. Today we will finish what we have started by looking at the end of John’s prologue.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
John Bore Witness (15)
This first verse, as in the NIV, should maybe be placed in parentheses. It is almost an aside, but what a great statement it is from the last of the Old Testament prophets! It also supports what John the Apostle said in the opening lines of this Gospel in that this Word is eternal. So, the Apostle includes the statement from the Baptizer in order to reinforce his point about the Son’s uniqueness, but also to pave the way for his report of the Baptizer’s ministry given in verses nineteen through forty-two.
Although Jesus’ earthly ministry came after John the Baptizer’s, the prophet declared Christ’s preeminence. John began by making this proclamation before he knew who the individual was of whom he spoke. He grew up in the wilderness and began preaching the Christ before Jesus even came on the scene. He later learned that it was Jesus who was the Christ because God revealed to him that this was the case and then he could say, “This was He of whom I said. . . .”
Grace for Grace (16-17)
In verse fourteen, we were told that the Apostle and other eyewitnesses beheld the glory of the Word-made-flesh which was full of grace and truth. Now the Apostle picks up on that again to tell us more about it in verses sixteen and seventeen. After the important reference to the Baptizer in verse fifteen, verse sixteen goes on to explain what verse fourteen said about grace and truth filled glory of the Word. The sentence begins with the word “for” or “because.” It points us to the furtherance of his point.
As we pointed out last week, glory has the idea of “weight.” It refers to how much something is worth, how much value it holds. The Apostle says in verse fourteen that Christ’s glory is FULL of grace and truth. In verses sixteen and seventeen, he goes on to tell us that out of that fullness we have all received. The “we have all” referred in the first place to the eyewitnesses, but now it extends to include us as well. His fullness is enough for us all. It is out of His fullness that both the Old Testament and New Testament revelations have come. It is out of His fullness that the world and all that is in it was created. It is out of His fullness that we have all received salvation from the slavery of sin and the wrath to come. It is out of His fullness that we have received the offer of eternal life. He is full of grace and truth, and there is enough living water for us all to drink and be satisfied. Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded that much more through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Grace for grace” in the NKJV and “grace in place of grace already given” in the NIV means something like “grace after grace.” What the Apostle John is saying to his readers, by unique inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is that both the Old Testament and New Testament revelations came out of the fullness of the Word who in these last days has come in the flesh. This is something very special. He is not down-playing the significance of the Old Testament. He is actually calling it a “grace” that was given. Of course, we know that it was a promissory grace. It was always pointing forward to another grace, a fullness of the glory of God to be put on display.
The grace that Christ has revealed in these last days is a grace like the Old Testament, but far greater. Just as John the Baptizer was the greatest of all men, but said that Christ was far greater, so too the revelation of the New Testament is greater than the Old. It is not as if there was no grace and truth in the Law. Of course, there was! The grace and truth that came through the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Word-become-flesh, was the final and full revelation of the plan of God. You can look at it two ways: grace has been replaced by grace in the sense that the previous grace was lacking and now it is full or, even better, grace has been heaped upon grace.
He has Declared Him (18)
We have made it to the end of the prologue and the climax of it all. Notice here at the end that the Apostle begins to explicitly link the Word with “Jesus Christ” and the “Son.” There will be no mistakes made by any sincere reader of the Gospel of John as to who the Word is. The Word is Jesus Christ, the One and Only Son of God. If you have not learned about the distinctiveness of the Word by this point, you will not miss it in verse eighteen. This verse is the reason that Christmas is so special. No one has seen God at any time. No one has ever seen God. Moses wanted to, but God told him he would die if he saw Him, so He covered Moses in the cleft of the rock. Moses would talk to God “face-to-face” as friends, but Moses did not see God’s glory on display in the way that Christ showed it. Not only does Christ show the glory of God, but He reveals God Himself to humanity. As one of the great Reformers said, “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” (Calvin). He is very God of very God who was born as a babe in Bethlehem in order to save the world. If you want to see God, look to Him. If you want to learn of God, learn of Him. As another author has said, “We may have confidence that God is as Christ revealed him” (Morris, 101).
To be the “only begotten Son” is to be the “One and Only Son.” It does not speak of birth, but of His uniqueness. To be “in the bosom of the Father” is to be in the closest relationship to the Father as possible.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Look to Christ during Christmas and see God. There are many distractions this time of year. The world is attempting to divert attention away from Christ on to anything else. Enjoy the narration of God in the person of Jesus this Christmas with your family and friends.
(2) Remember where all of your blessings come from. They come from the fullness of Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh. He supplies more than enough for us all and all others who come to Him. You will find grace and truth in Him. He will give you true life.
(3) Christ is unique. He is special. He is one of a kind. There is no other like Him. Consider His greatness this season. Bask in His glory.