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Comments on John 1:14-18

From John: The book about Life, by Matthew R. Freije

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.


Comments on vs 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18

1:14

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. This refers to the Word in 1:1. God the Son came to earth and lived as a man among the people He created. The means by which the Christ came to earth--the miraculous impregnation of the virgin Mary--is described in Luke 1:26-2:39. Read what John wrote about the coming of Christ in another biblical book that he wrote:

1 John 1:1-3 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

We saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John seems to be in awe--as if telling a thrilling rescue story to a group of friends. John knew that what he saw in Jesus was the glory of God. The word glory, as used in the Old Testament, expressed the awesome majesty of God:

Exo 24:16 The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

Exo 40:35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Ex 33:18,21,22 Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" 21 Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.

1 Kings 8:10,11 It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Just as the Israelites during the Old Testament times could see the glory of God within the tabernacle, John could see the glory of God in Jesus. John was particularly amazed by Jesus' display of truth and grace. Jesus didn't have to balance between grace and truth--He had 100 percent of both. John realized that this was miraculous; only God could be this way. People often struggle to seek a balance between truth and grace--enforcing rules yet showing compassion, adhering to religious rules yet taking reasonable freedoms (with inconsistent definitions of reasonable), disciplining and punishing children without degrading or discouraging them. God does not need to compromise between grace and truth—everything He does, He does with 100 percent of both. This amazed John. As you continue reading through John, you will see that Jesus' truth with grace also amazed others, such as the woman whom he talked with at the well (John 4:5-29).

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1:15

John the Baptist did not proclaim Jesus as simply a prophet, a good teacher, or a kind person. John made it clear that Jesus had a higher rank than he. Even though John was born before Jesus, he said that Jesus existed before he did, indicating Jesus' deity. For more on John the Baptist, see the comments on 1:19-34 and comments on 3:22-30.

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1:16

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John goes a step further by proclaiming that those who receive and trust Christ are blessed with His fullness, the glory that he described in 1:14. This does not mean that Christians are on the same level as God. Quite the contrary, the Christian must humbly acknowledge his unrighteousness before God and utter dependence on Him. Those who trust Christ receive His fullness by inheriting His Life. We exchange our unrighteousness for His righteousness. We are empowered with the Holy Spirit. We receive, not only forgiveness of sin, but the power of Christ to do right and not wrong, to have continual joy and contentment through fellowship with the Father, and to help people.

We initially receive Christ by faith, realizing that we will never be good enough to be accepted by God, and thus need Christ for forgiveness of sin. We are then to live by faith in Christ, trusting Him who now indwells us to live righteously through us--and to be our joy, contentment, strength, and wisdom. Attempting to live good lives by trying real hard to change our ways will not work. Neither will we find contentment through our circumstances. Christianity is all about Christ, not us. Christ does everything--we are merely the object of God's power and love poured out through Jesus Christ. This is why John says, "and grace upon grace." Others have coined this appropriate acronym for GRACE: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.

The fullness of Christ, given to those who entrust their lives to Him, is of great significance. The Apostle Paul prayed for the people of the church of Ephesus that their eyes would be opened to understand it:

Eph 1:18,19 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

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1:17

The Law that was given through Moses is the Ten Commandments:

Exo 20:1-4, 7, 8, 12-17 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. …7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. …12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 13 "You shall not murder. 14 "You shall not commit adultery. 15 "You shall not steal. 16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Although the Law provides good guidelines for living, it could not provide salvation. First, no person can keep the Law perfectly, every person needs mercy and forgiveness. Second, the Law cannot give life. Even if someone were able to live a perfect life according to the Law, he would still be spiritually dead. Jesus Christ is the answer to both problems. He provides forgiveness of sin, fulfilling the requirement of the law for us. And He gives us spiritual life--His life through the Holy Spirit. This is the grace that John writes about in 1:17.

Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Eccl 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

Rom 3:10 as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;

Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM."

Gal 3:21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 7:37-38 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"

John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."

John 10:10 "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 11:25-26 "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Since no person can live a perfect life, each person has to be cleansed of sin to be brought into a right standing with God. Under the old covenant (in the Old Testament days), people were bound by the Law, so God had the people of Israel sacrifice animals to temporarily cleanse them from their sin. This was to show man that only death with the shedding of blood is a suitable sacrifice for sin. God's plan was for Jesus to be the perfect and ultimate sacrifice, the final payment for sin--a gift that each person needs merely to receive:

Heb 9:22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Heb 9:26 but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Heb 10:1-5 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME;

If roads did not have speed-limit signs, drivers would not know they were speeding. God gave the Law to show us that we cannot live up to His perfect standards. The Law was designed, not to save us, but to lead us to the Savior, so that we can receive forgiveness and life:

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--

Gal 3:19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions

Gal 3:22-24 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Col 2:13,14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Rom 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Jesus Christ did not abolish the Law in bringing forgiveness to man. On the contrary, He fulfilled the requirement of the Law. Picture God's perfect righteousness and justice on one side of a huge canyon, and human sinfulness on the other. Somehow each person needs to get to God, but gravity stands in the way--nobody can fly across the canyon. In this analogy, the Law serves to reveal to people that a huge canyon exists between God and man. Without the Law, man does not realize that he is sinful and thus separated from God. Jesus Christ is like a bridge extending across the canyon. The absolute truth of gravity still exists, but if we entrust our lives to Christ (walk across Him, the bridge), each of us can have access to God, be accepted by Him, and receive spiritual life:

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Rom 8:1,2 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Through Jesus Christ, God is able to pour out His lovingkindness and compassion onto people, without violating His perfect righteousness and justice:

Psa 85:9,10 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. 10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Could any person have died on a cross as a sacrifice for the sin of the human race. No. Only God Himself is a sufficient sacrifice. Although Jesus lived as a man on the earth, He was still God, and thus a sufficient sacrifice for our sin. Jesus Christ, the bridge, is the only way across the canyon:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

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1:18

John summarizes 1:1-18 by stating that Jesus has explained God the Father. As words express the thoughts of a person, Jesus, the Word, expressed the nature of God. A passage in Hebrews explains this further:

Heb 1:1-3 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

Jesus, God the Son, shows us what God the Father is like. The people who were around Jesus while He was on earth got to observe Him first hand. We can observe Jesus by reading the Bible, particularly the Gospel writers’ accounts of His words and deeds. In fact, those who place their trust in Christ today have an advantage over the people who saw Jesus directly, because we have the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us.

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