This is the last in a series on John 1:1-18. To start from the beginning, click HERE.
“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 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.’ ”) 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. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:14–18, ESV)
A word that grabs my attention appears twice in these verses: “full,” and “fullness.” These words, are from the same Greek word, “pleireis.” It speaks of the contents and the completeness of what fills a container. So a pitcher of milk, filled to the brim. Or, a reservoir that has raised to the tops of its banks. Why is this so important in these verses? Because the John uses the word to point us to what can be expected from Christ, and who might expect it.
First, let’s think about the contents of the container. The Word came and dwelt among us… In simpler terms, Jesus, the Son of God and agent of creation, came to live as a human being. But he did so, being filled with something. What is the content of his fullness? It is “grace and truth.” Jesus was filled with grace and truth. These two inseparable elements draw us into the very nature of God himself. Grace and truth. Like mercy and justice, compassion and holiness, forgiveness and righteousness, they seem like opposites, but when taken together they form a life-affirming tapestry of beauty and strength.
Now let’s look at the capacity of the container. If a lake is our source of water and it is filled to the brim with clean, clear water, that is good. But if it is a lake that is 20 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep, it won’t provide water to many. So, what is Jesus’ capacity to give this grace and truth? His capacity is determined by who he is. His “glory is as of the Son from the Father.” He comes after John, but “ranks before me, because he was before me.” “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side…” Jesus is the Eternal One. He was with the Father in eternity past. His capacity for grace and truth is immeasurable. The stars in the sky, the sand of the sea, and the myriad intentions of the human heart are all held in the palm of his hand.
What does this mean? In the words of John, from the contents and the capacity of Christ, we all have received “grace upon grace.” His coming has heaped on us gift upon gift. He comes, he loves, he serves, he sacrifices, he lives again, he invites, he leads. He offers truth, grace, mercy, kindness, hope, joy, immortality… the very fullness of life. And because of his capacity, he gives this to all who receive. He has enough for everyone to get a full measure!
These opening words of the gospel of John reveal to us that the world begins, continues and ends with the Word. The Word is He who brings us life. By coming, living, dying and living again, he offers the grace of God to each and every one. This is his message. This is our hope! Rejoice! He has come. He still comes to us today. He will come again.
My prayer in this series of posts is that Christ is magnified! My hope is that we get a clear picture that life and light have forever been in Him. And our only hope for all the goodness God offers us is in the One who came and joined our lives with His life.
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