18 April 2010, AM
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Pastor Kevin A. Pierpont
14 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. 15 (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.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
This is our third Sunday in John’s Gospel. We’ve been examining the names for Jesus seen here in chapter 1, there are seven of them. We’ve come to this series of studies with this reminder from John 20:30-31 — it’s really the purpose for which John wrote this Gospel. Jesus had done many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which John didn’t write about, but he says in verse 31 that these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
With the importance of that truth, that by believing in Jesus you may have life in his name, we came to John 1 and began noting the names John uses for Jesus. John wants his readers to know who Jesus is so that they’ll believe in him.
We noted first that Jesus is the Word, the Living Word. John 1:1 points to this, that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. One of the reasons that Jesus is called the Word is because through Jesus is revealed the heart and mind of God. We understand that because words convey meaning and thought. Certainly there can be no greater meaning and thought conveyed than the heart and mind of God. So in Jesus God communicates very clearly the love He has for mankind.
Then we noted that Jesus is the Light, the Light of Life. Verse 4 says that In him was life, and the life was the light of men. In verse 9 John calls Jesus the true light. Light means life. Light dispels darkness. Light guides us in the darkness and in the same way Jesus Christ leads to life. Believing in Jesus, the Light means eternal life and forgiveness of sin.
Today we come to the third name we see in chapter one for Christ and that is that Jesus is the Son of God.
John says here in verse 14 that, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. Later in verse 34 John writes that John the Baptist said of Christ, I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. And then in verse 49 the Apostle John tells us that Nathanael recognized Jesus for who he was and said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
We also see this name for Christ used several times elsewhere in John’s Gospel.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
John 10:36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
We also noted it earlier that in John 20:31 John writes, these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
That statement in John 20:31 makes very clear the importance of this name for Christ. John says he’s writing this Gospel so that you’ll believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. So, obviously, this is an important name John uses and his use of it helps us know who Jesus is. Jesus: Son of God.
As we come to our text today John tells us a great deal about Jesus the Son of God.
Look at verse 14. 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.
So first, John says the Word became flesh. The Word took on humanity — and this is not as in, stopped being God and started being human, but as in, Jesus in all His deity took on flesh, took on humanity. Jesus Christ, both God and man in the same person. God took on flesh and dwelt among us. I think Philippians 2:6-7 helps us get hold of this idea more fully.
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
This is not Jesus being created. This is God taking on humanity. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way.
Now Christ’s human flesh was God’s tabernacle and it is in Christ that God meets with man and in Christ that man has dealings with God. The Jew of old went to God’s tent, in the center of the camp, if he would worship — we come to Christ if we would pay our homage. If the Jew would be released from ceremonial uncleanness — after he had performed the rites — he went up to the sanctuary of his God that he might feel again that there was peace between God and his soul.
And we, having been washed in the precious blood of Christ, have access with boldness unto God, even the Father through Christ who is our tabernacle and the tabernacle of God among men. (C.H. Spurgeon, The Glory of Christ — Beheld! Sermon #414)
Spurgeon points to that next phrase when he talks about the tent and the sanctuary. Look at the words in verse 14 and dwelt among us. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In the original it meant “to pitch one’s tent”. It carried with it the idea of settling down permanently. And that’s just the idea we get from this statement in verse 14, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, God really came to live among us. In the Old Testament we see God dwelling in the midst of His people in the Tabernacle. But now John says that God has come and dwelt among us. The power and the mind and the will of God in human flesh. Now does this mean that the Word stopped being the Word when it says that the Word became flesh? No. Jesus is still the Word but he’s also taken on human flesh. It’s like becoming a father. When I became a father I did not stop being a husband, son or grandson. God the Son didn’t change from Word to flesh, he added flesh so that He might dwell among us.
But that’s not all. John goes even further and says, and we have seen his glory. This is why Jesus came. So that we might see his glory and recognize him for who he is.
The evidence was clear — there were witnesses to the deity of Jesus — it was seen in his glory. Jesus couldn’t hide his glory. How did they see his glory? Well, for one Jesus’ glory was seen by Peter, James and the Apostle John on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Luke 9:28-33 tells us:
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
So they clearly saw his glory then and it was a powerful moment for them. So powerful they didn’t want to ever leave there. But that’s not the only way they saw his glory. They also saw it spiritually. Look at how John describes the glory they witnessed as they were with Christ. Verse 14 says,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth
So first he says that they saw his glory because Christ the Father’s son. Being the Word made flesh, being the Light of Life Jesus is the glory of God. He is glorious because of who He is — the Father’s Son — Jesus: Son of God.
Then John says that they’d seen Christ’s glory because he is full of grace and truth. This is the glory of Jesus Christ they saw because who he is. This is the fullness of Jesus Christ: grace and truth. And this is essentially what we proclaim when we tell the Gospel. We see it back in verse 12, But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
To believe in Jesus Christ is to believe in the truth and to be saved is by the grace of God. That’s why verse 13 reminds us that the new life and forgiveness of sins we receive when we believe in Christ is not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. By God’s grace we receive life when we believe in the truth, Jesus Christ. That’s the most important way the glory of Christ is seen.
Now look at verse 15. The Apostle John is pointing to another witness who saw the glory of Christ, John the Baptist.
15 (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.’”)
The Apostle John reminds us of the witness of John the Baptist. So from what we learned earlier when he was introduced to us beginning in verse 6 he adds this here in verse 15.
John the Baptist had said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.” This same statement is repeated in verse 30. Note that when studying God’s Word watch for things repeated. Things repeated often indicate importance.
What’s John the Baptist saying? Why is this important? He’s making it clear that though his ministry came on the scene before the ministry of Christ, Christ’s ministry is of greater importance than his own. But note that he’s also stating the pre-existence of Christ. Yes, John the Baptist was born first. But he’s making it clear that Christ is God, God in human flesh. Thus he says, Christ ranks before me, because he was before me.
So the Apostle John writes here of his and others’ witness of the Glory of Christ which confirms for us who Jesus is, the Son of God. Then he points to John the Baptist who also pointed to the Son of God. But he’s not done.
Look at verse 16.
16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Now John is saying it’s not just those who were with Jesus who witness his glory, and not just John the Baptist who witnessed his glory but also all who believe who witness his glory. And from his fullness we have all received. The all here is all believers. Verse 12 made it clear that to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
Now John says not only are you adopted as a child of God, not only do you receive sonship, but you also have his fullness.
John starts verse 16 by saying that from his fullness — that’s the fullness of Christ. Listen, the fullness of God is in the Son and the fullness of the Son is in those who believe. There’s a reminder here that salvation is full and complete through Christ and Christ alone.
This is for every believer, the Apostles, John the Baptist and you and me included. We need Christ. We need his fullness. True joy, peace, contentment and fulfillment is found nowhere else. Salvation is found in none other. Those who believe in the Word made flesh receive his fullness.
Do you hear that? The fullness of God is in the Son and the fullness of the Son is in those who believe. That means that you have what you need to live the Christian life if you believe in Him. How do we know this?
John says we receive grace upon grace — from his fullness we receive grace upon grace. What is this? It’s God’s gracious goodness shown to us one on another on another on another. And we so often just don’t see it that way. We are so prone to wallow in self pity that we just don’t see clearly how gracious God is to us.
God layers his grace on us, grace upon grace. It’s like when my son Luke orders pancakes. There’s just so much goodness there. There’s three or four pancakes, and their stuffed with big, juicy blueberries, and on top is some whipped cream and maybe even some butter and then to top it all there’s sweet maple syrup. It’s just one good things piled on top of the other.
But of course that’s nothing compared to God’s grace.
Now why do we need grace upon grace? John points to the “why” in verse 17.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
If it weren’t for God’s grace we’d be under the law and the law condemns us to death. God gave his law to Moses and Moses brought God’s law to the people and the people were warned that there was punishment to be expected for breaking God’s law. And people broke God’s law. Now certainly we see God’s grace in the Old Testament even at times showing his grace to those who broke his law. But God’s grace was not by way of the law because no one has kept every point of the law.
Then, we see it here in John 1, God sent His Son, the Word became flesh and we have seen his glory and from his fullness we’ve received grace upon grace.
Think about this. If you are a follower of Christ you have the fullness of God living in you and your life is layered with God’s grace and it’s a very good thing that it is. Because by God’s grace you receive the full resources of your infinite creator and you have hope because grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. And then in verse 18, we have this clear statement about who Jesus is, just in case it’s still not clear.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Have you seen God? No? Me neither.
But Jesus came, and here John says, Jesus is the only God. And that statement is made even more clear by the next, who is at the Father’s side — it’s a pointer to the oneness, the intimacy God the Son has with God the Father — he is at the Father’s side.
Jesus Christ makes God known. Jesus Christ reveals the father. Jesus: Son of God.
Do you know the Son of God? Have you believed in the son of God for the forgiveness of your sins?
If you do know the son, do you live for His glory? Do you honor the son with your life? Do you obey his Word? Is your highest aim in life to please and honor God with your life?