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.
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:
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:
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).
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.
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:
The Law that was given through Moses is the Ten Commandments:
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.
"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:
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:
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:
"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:
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:
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
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:
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.