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John’s Journey 1.3: Grace and Truth – John 1:14-18

The Christian faith is not without mystery, but if God is truly God, is it reasonable to think that we could completely understand Him, His power, His will, His intent for the people He has created? I think not and I embrace the mystery and wonder that is God.

John has identified Jesus as the Son of God, the light of the world, and the very word of God. He has presented Jesus in His divinity. The journey continues as John introduces Jesus in His humanity. He writes, “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 1:14).

The birth of Jesus as a human being demonstrates the lengths to which God the Father will go to connect with us. This birth is the fulfillment of a prophecy pronounced hundreds of years before by the prophet, Isaiah. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold,  the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This son is Jesus who will be identified throughout the Bible with many names, each revealing an element or dimension of who He was, who He is. Immanuel is a Hebrew name that means “God with us.” With His physical birth God the Son becomes Immanuel, God with us.

The words “grace” and “truth” carry huge theological weight, and we’ll get to them in a moment. First, however, notice the parenthetical phrase that John the Apostle includes here concerning the aforementioned John the Baptist. “(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”’)” (John 1:15). John the Apostle is making sure that his readers understand both the divinity and humanity of Christ. Jesus was physically born some six months after the birth of John the Baptist, but the Baptist informs that Jesus was before him. Meaning what? Meaning that Jesus is divine, having existed as God the Son long before He became flesh and dwelt among us.

Having offered this parenthetical thought, John returns to his focus on grace and truth. “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” (John 1:16-17). Moses received the Ten Commandments, the basis of God’s law. Though the law explained what God expected of His people, it did not provide the power to receive salvation from the breaking of that law. That power only comes through Jesus Christ, who not only fulfills the Father’s law perfectly, but who offers the grace through which we can be saved from our sins. If all we had was the law, we would be destined for spiritual failure, but, unlike the law, Jesus is alive, the embodiment of the law, yet full of grace and truth.

In another cryptic verse, John closes this thought with a further explanation of who Jesus is and why He came to dwell among God’s people. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). God the Father, then, remains unseen, but God the Son has made the Father known as Immanuel, God with us.

If you want to know what is true, come to Jesus to find that truth. If you want to be freed from the condemning judgment of the law, come to Jesus to find grace. Jesus – full of grace and truth.