15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
(John 1:15-18 NIV)
Today we wrap up our study of the Apostle John’s prologue to his Gospel. John has gathered all the dots of truth he wanted to share; through his prologue, he connects those dots for us and provides a lighted path through the rest of his Gospel.
In verse 15, the Apostle John ties the cornerstone of his prologue (verse 14) to John the Baptizer. If we only view the prologue, then we might wonder why John would refer again to John the Baptizer. When we look just beyond the prologue (starting in verse 19-ff), we see the reason.
In verse 15, John artfully ties John the Baptizer back to Isaiah’s prophecy of the one who would announce the Messiah’s arrival and presence on earth (Isaiah 40:3). Through John the Baptizer’s testimonial quote (verse 15), the Apostle John reinforces his message from verse 1 that Messiah existed before the foundations of the world. Even though John the Baptizer was six to nine months older than Jesus, he explicitly acknowledged Jesus’ preexistence and authority as Messiah.
Just as John skillfully tied John the Baptizer back to Isaiah’s prophecy, he also contrasts the messages of Old and New Testaments. Matthew Henry, the Bible scholar of old, writes: “The Old-Testament prophets cried aloud, to show people their sins; this New-Testament prophet cried aloud, to show people their Saviour.” (commentary on John chapter 1)
John continues in verses 16-17, reiterating (from verse 14) God’s gifts of grace and truth given to us through Christ. John hinted at the link between Old and New Testaments in verse 15; he now spells it out in verse 17.
Michael Card beautifully describes this contrast between Old and New Testaments, between the Law and grace and truth found in Christ:
“Jesus is full of grace and truth, but not truth as anyone in the history of humankind has ever known. Not truth as a right answer or truth as correct words, but truth as a person – living, breathing and eventually bleeding and dying. Truth that one comes to know personally in the context of a life, not between the pages of a textbook. From this moment on, knowing the truth will not necessarily mean being right but rather being faithful. Knowing the truth will no longer mean knowing the answers but knowing Jesus Christ.”
(from John – the Gospel of Wisdom, by Michael Card, p. 36)
Verse 18 builds on verse 17, as John reminds us that God revealed Himself to us through His Law, but now gives us a gift far better than we could ever ask or think. And what is that gift? Himself, through Jesus Christ. When Moses requested to see God’s glory (Exodus 33), God said that no one could see God and live. Now God gives us His Son and His glory so that we might look on Him by faith and live with Him and in Him forever.
May our worship and our walk reflect Messiah living in and through us as we look to Him for our life here and yet to come.