Text: John 1:10-18
Readers’ Note: I haven’t mentioned this before here, but as of October 22, I’ve been the preaching minister at Morrison Christian Church in Morrison, Illinois. Since I began I’ve intended to start posting sermon notes online and this week I finally got started. You should know that last week I talked about John 1:1-4 and discussed the fact that John brings us a different view of the “Christmas Story”, a heavenly view, as he shows us what it looked like from God’s vantage point. This week, we pick up in verse 10, and in the coming weeks will look at scenes from both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
When I was a youth, these verses changed everything for me; this is where I began to comprehend the truth of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in Him before that, but simple belief isn’t the same as comprehension, and though my comprehension was not, and for that matter still is not as complete as I might like, this was the turning point for me. Yet again, simple John took a major theological concept and boiled it down to two simple sentences that anyone can understand; it is clear and simple. This “light” who is also the Word-God, came into this world of darkness, and even though He created the world, the world simply didn’t recognize Him for who He really was. He even came amongst His own covenant people, the ones who had received the message of the prophets concerning Him and His coming, yet they for the most part, didn’t recognize Him any more than they recognized the prophets when they came. Yet, for those who did see Him for who He was, He made it possible for them to be reborn as children of God.
What could be simpler?
The interesting thing about a text like this is that while I’d like to go on and on, I’m pretty sure that I would either resort to being redundant, or I would translate simplicity into complexity, and neither of those are very good outcomes. Accordingly, I think I’ll just leave you with…
What could be simpler?
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Up to this point, we know that the Word was with God and that the Word was God; the “Word-God.” We have also seen John refer to this Word-God as “he”. Now, for the first time, John identifies “him” as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Yes, for it was none other than Jesus who became flesh and made His dwelling among us at the incarnation, it is of Jesus that the Hebrews author asserts, “and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2) which is parallel to John 1:3; there can be no doubt about whom it is that John is referring to here. It is Jesus who is the Son, having come to us from the Father.
Now that we are certain of just who John has been talking about, we can look at the attributes John mentions about Him, He was full of “grace and truth.” Notice the balance between those two; how many of us maintain that kind of balance between grace and truth when we are interacting with others? Some of us have a great deal of grace, so much so in fact, that we can overlook almost anything; we might even make the truth hard to find. Others are so strong on truth that we find ourselves pointing fingers at those around us, seldom displaying love or compassion or understanding.
I used to give my students a little chart containing two axes, the north-south axis was labeled “justice” at the top and “mercy” at the bottom, and the east-west was labeled “truth” on the west and “grace” on the east. Then I would ask them to rate themselves by making a little “X” where they think they fall on the chart as I asked them four or five simple questions. After that, I would ask the questions again and have them rate me…
Almost without exception, the students rated themselves right in the middle of the chart, and almost without exception they rated me in the upper left hand quadrant: they were all full of grace and truth, while I was cold, aloof and correct.
I always got a kick out of that and joked that they should just remember who was the one who was correct in the room. Then, springing the trap, I would congratulate them, for they had each placed themselves on a par with none other than Jesus Christ Himself, a position much loftier than anything the Apostle Paul would ever dare to claim!
The preacher who pounds his pulpit while heaping condemnation on the sinners around the room thinks he’s being just like Jesus, but where is the grace? The preacher who is willing to tolerate virtually any behavior also thinks he’s being just like Jesus, but where’s the truth? Oh yes, it is so very hard for us to see ourselves the way that others do, and even harder to see ourselves as God sees us, but since being like Christ is our goal, we need to try.
It might just be that you, me and everyone else should seek His guidance in this through fervent and regular prayer that He, through His Spirit would guide our every action, that all around us would see His love at work in each of us.
John’s text continues as he mentions that John the Baptist testified concerning Jesus in verse 15, and then in 16-18 gives his own testimony about Him.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John’s first statement is about the abundance of grace that we have received through relationship with Christ. Then, John expands on his statement, pointing out that while the Law was “given” grace and truth “came.” I think that’s worthy of a little thought, for as John has structured this, the Law is a rather top-down thing; it is entirely transactional. The Law was handed down by God to Moses, an intermediary, and then from Moses to the people− the people could take it or leave it. They took it, and then for the most part, they left it; there was no relationship with Law, for Law just is. The result was that the very Law became their condemnation, not their salvation.
And then, grace and truth came to them…
Grace and truth came to them in a person; they could talk and laugh and cry and walk together; there is relationship with grace and truth, for grace and truth become a part of who we are as human beings; there is no fear in grace and truth.
In the remainder of this text, John reveals to us that through Jesus, God can be known to Man, for Jesus is Himself God. Through Jesus, therefore, we can have relationship with God, the Creator of everything: Grace and Truth.
Would you like to know God?
Get to know Jesus. Would you like to know Jesus?
Get to know the Word who became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
Honestly, this is really too simple for us to miss! Out of all the knowledge that has come to humanity over the ages, this is all we need to know to receive forgiveness and eternal life; grab onto it and hold on tight, never let it go…