Eternal Grace and Truth
Read John 1:14-18 (ESV)
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. (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.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
What can we learn about the attributes of Jesus in today’s verses?
Have you ever asked God to show Himself to you? If you have, you are in good company. We want to know God face to face. We want to know if He is with us. Sometimes, in our moments of doubt, we want to know if He's even really there. We desperately want to know what God’s really like.
That is what Moses expressed in Exodus 33:18 when he earnestly prayed: “Please show me your glory.” God was gracious and did allow Moses to partially see Him. But even then, God did not allow Moses to see His face. Exodus 33:22 records that God placed Moses in the cleft of a rock and shielded Him with His hand while “His glory passed by.”
In today’s verses, John says “we have seen his glory.” John was among the disciples who caught a special glimpse of God’s glory at the Transfiguration. But Jesus didn’t just physically display the glory of God to His disciples. The disciples got to know the character of God personally as well because God took on flesh and dwelt among them in the person of Jesus Christ. John described the character of Jesus, God in the flesh, as being “full of grace and truth.”
This is very similar to how God Himself described His own character when He passed by in front of Moses: “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6, NASB). When Moses saw God’s goodness and glory, he was given the law. The law showed mankind God’s holiness and His justice. It highlighted our need for a savior because no human could ever live up to His perfect standards. But when Jesus came, we received the grace of God and the full truth about God’s plan to restore His people—through Jesus Himself.
But John reaffirms something else about Jesus in today’s verses. He quotes John that Baptist in what must have seemed cryptic to the listeners at the time. John the Baptist said that the One who comes after him is greater than him and actually came before him. How can the one who comes after John the Baptist actually have existed before him? And what is John trying to convey when he says that this Someone outranks him?
John the Baptist was emphasizing the eternality of Jesus. Even though Jesus was physically born after John and even though Jesus started His public ministry after John’s ministry had already been established, Jesus has eternally existed and thus, is before John. Because Jesus is God, He outranks John the Baptist. In fact, in John 1:27, John the Baptist says that he is not fit to even untie the sandals of the One who comes after him.
Friends, if you want to know who God really is, study Jesus Christ. John said that while we have never seen God, Jesus has made Him known to us. He is full of grace and truth. He puts God’s compassion and lovingkindness on full display. Jesus shows us the glory of God.
Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Jesus Christ. Thank You for giving us grace and showing us the truth of who You are and what You’ve done for us. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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