Saturday, September 3, 2011

John's Declaration of God's Grace

"John bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, 
He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.  
And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.  
For the law was given by Moses, 
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." 
John 1:15-17

The word cried in this verse is interesting.  The grammatical construction is such that emphasis is placed upon the culmination of the action.  John's declaration that Christ, God's Anointed, had come was irreversible.  The Son of God has come into the world and the effects of that are eternal.  The world's calendars revolve around His birth.  Two times in the year (Easter, Christmas) the world shuts down because of events in His earthly life.  Indeed!  Christ has come.  The text goes on to say "...He that cometh after me is preferred before me...."  John was born six months ahead of Christ (Luke 1:36), and yet, Christ has no beginning of days nor end of life.  He is preferred before John and everyone else.  Christ is preeminent in all things (Col. 1:18).  He is the eternal God and no man could truly be before Him.  That is why John goes on to say "...for He was before me."  The word for was here is indicating continuous action in the past.  Before John was ever conceived, Christ was being God in eternity past.  John says "...for He was before me."  This is the Greek word protos which means first.  John is attesting to the fact that Christ is preeminent by saying that He is first in position.  Every Christian would do well to give Jesus Christ a protos position in their life and thinking.  Too many people live their lives as they wish without even thinking that the Savior may have a different plan.  John now moves on to describe the abundant riches of Christ's grace.  "And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace."  A literal rendering of the text would read "And of the fullness of Him, We! all we have received...."  The spiritual fullness which Christ offers is available to all who will trust Him as their Savior!  The word for fullness here has the idea of completeness, needing nothing more, that which contents.  Only Christ can content the spiritual void in a person's soul.  Great emphasis is placed on the fact that this fullness is available to us.  We! and not just We! but all we have received of this fullness.  Because Christ came to earth to redeem mankind, all men have the opportunity to partake of this fullness if they will only believe on Christ as their Savior.  But not only have we received of His fullness but also He imparts grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  God shows grace to man by offering him forgiveness of sins in Christ.  No one deserves to be forgiven.  Salvation is a gift of grace, and what grace it is!  The wording here is interesting.  The text reads "...and grace for grace."  The word for is anti.  This preposition means against, instead of, on top of, in place of.  The idea here is that grace keeps coming!  It can never run out because when one pile of grace is used up more just keeps taking its place!  Grace on top of grace.  God's grace and mercy are abundant enough and sufficient enough to save anyone.  John the Baptist reflects for a moment on the Law of Moses which is really the Law of God.  Here we learn an important lesson about the Law in God's plan for man.  He says "For the Law came by Moses...."  This isn't any old law, this is the Law as embodied in the Old Testament.  Here we learn two things about the Law.  First, it was given by God.  The word for came here is passive.  Therefore, a literal translation would be "For the Law was given...."  Man did not derive it.  It was given to him.  Next we learn that God was the Author of this Law.  The text reads "For the law came by Moses...."  The prepositional phrase by Moses means through Moses.  Moses was the intermediate agent.  He did not create this Law.  It was given to Him by God (Exodus 31:18).  So the Law was given by God through Moses, and its purpose was always to point out man's sin.  Through the Law, God wanted all men to realize that they have failed to meet His standard, and thereby repent (Galatians 3:14).  The means of salvation is not through the Law but through Christ.  "...but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."  A definite article is included with both grace and truth, so it literally reads the grace and the truth.  Christ defines grace and truth.  The Law points out man's sin (the letter killeth...2 Co. 3:6), and the grace of God in sending His Son to die for man's sin offers life to all who will believe in Christ (but the spirit giveth life...2 Co. 3:6).