Pre-fleshly State of Christ Part 6 of 9 series: Harmony of the Gospels
by John Lowe
When John said, “We beheld His glory,” he was referring primarily, to the moral glory of the Lord Jesus. He and the other disciples beheld the wonder of an absolutely perfect life lived on this earth. But it is likely that John also included the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration as well.
Those that were most intimate with him saw the most of his glory. It was the same with his doctrine; the disciples knew the mysteries of it, while others had heard it under the veil of parables. It was also like that with his person, they saw the glory of his divinity, while others saw only the veil of his human nature. He manifested himself to them, and not unto the world. These witnesses were a fitting number, twelve of them, a whole jury of witnesses, and men with integrity. They saw it all. Their evidence was not second hand, for they were eyewitnesses of those events on which they built their testimony that he was the Son of the living God. The apostle John said, “What we declare unto you of the Word of life is what we have seen with our eyes, and what we have looked upon” (1 Jn. 1:1).
The glory as of the only begotten of the Father.
The glory, which the disciples saw, indicated to them that He was truly the Son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, that is, Christ is God’s unique Son. God did not have any other Son like Him. In one sense, all true believers are sons of God. However, Jesus is the Son of God—in a class all by Himself. As the Son of God, He is equal to God. Angels are sons of God, but he never said to any of them, “This day have I begotten thee” (Heb. 1:5).His divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine; in his miracles, which extorted from many this acknowledgment, that he was the Son of God; it appeared in the purity and goodness of his conversations. God’s goodness is his glory, and he went about doing good.
Full of grace and truth.
The Savior was full of grace and truth. On the one hand, full of undeserved kindness for others, He was also completely honest and upright, and He never excused sin or approved evil. To be completely gracious and at the same time righteous is something that only God can be. The Lord Jesus was completely qualified for his role as Mediator; for he was full of grace and truth, the two great things that fallen man stands in need of; and this proved him to be the Son of God as much as the divine power and majesty that appeared in him. First, He has a fullness of grace and truth for himself; he had the Spirit without measure. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, and therefore qualified to intercede for us. And, He was full of truth; He knew what things he was to reveal, and therefore, He was fit to instruct us. He was full of knowledge and compassion. Secondly, He has a fullness of grace and truth for us. He received so that he might give, and God was well pleased with him. Oh, that he might be well pleased with us, in him.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
Alternate Translation (NLT): John pointed him out to the people, telling the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming who is greater by far than I am,—for he existed long before I did!’
The subject here is the witness of John the Baptist. Although Jesus comes after John, he was before him; He existed in eternity. He had said in verse 8 that John came for a witness; now here he tells us that he did bear witness.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying. John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God. Before the Lord began His public ministry, John had been telling men about Him. When Jesus arrived on the scene, John said, in effect, “This is the One I have been describing to you.”
Note how he expressed his testimony: He cried,
according to the prediction that he should be the voice of one crying. The Old Testament prophets cried aloud, to show people their sins; this New Testament prophet cried aloud, to show people their Savior. This reveals:
1. That it was an open public testimony that he announce, so that all types of people might take notice of it.
2. That he was enthusiastic in giving this testimony. He cried like one that was assured that it was the truth. He that had leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when Christ approached now declares with a similar joy his public appearance.
“This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me."
He came with grace and truth, not law and judgment. He revealed the Father and gave the Holy Spirit to those who trusted Him. He is the Lamb of God who alone can take away sins. The blood of lambs covered the sins of the Jews, but the blood of Christ takes away the sins of the whole world.
Notice what his testimony was. He had said at the beginning of his ministry, when he had instructed them to expect one that would come after him, that he was His forerunner, and he was to prepare His way. Now, what he had said then, he now applies to Jesus whom he had recently baptized: This was the One of whom he spoke. He had given the preference to this Jesus. He said, He that comes after me, is preferred before me; he that succeeds me in preaching and making disciples is a more excellent person, on all accounts. Jesus Christ, who was to be called the Son of the Highest (Lu. 1:32), was preferred over John the Baptist, who was to be called only the prophet of the Highest (Lu. 1:76). John was a minister of the New Testament, but Christ was the Mediator of the New Testament. Although John was a great man, and had a great name, he gave the preference to Him to whom it belonged.
Jesus was preferred before John. He was greater than John; He was worthy of more honor,
For He was before me. Jesus came after John as far as His birth and ministry were concerned. He was born six months after John and presented Himself to the people of Israel some time after John had been preaching and baptizing.
16 And of His fullness (richness) we have all received, and grace for grace.
Alternate Translation (GNB): Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.
All who believe on the Lord Jesus receive supplies of spiritual strength out of His fullness (richness). His fullness is so great that He can provide for all Christians in all countries and in all ages. The expression grace for grace probably means “grace upon grace” or “abundant grace.” Here grace means God’s gracious favor, which He showers on His beloved children.
And of His fullness, we have all received. The 16th verse has an obvious connection with verse 14, where the incarnate Word was said to be full of grace and truth. Now here he makes this the matter, not only of our adoration, but of our thankfulness as well, because from that fullness of his we all have received a great deal. He received gifts for men (Ps. 68:18), that he might give gifts to men (Eph. 4:8). He was filled, that he might fill all in all (Eph. 1:23), and might fill our treasures (Prov. 8:21). He has a fountain of overflowing fullness: We all have received something from Him. We have received the favor of discipleship, that is, grace. Note, all true believers receive from Christ’s fullness; the best and greatest saints cannot live without him, and the poorest and weakest saints may live by him. Let us see what it is that we have received.
And grace for grace. We have received grace for grace. What we have received from Christ is all summed up in this one word, grace. The blessing of grace is the goodwill of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. God’s good will works the good work, and then the good work qualifies us for further tokens of his good will. As the air receives light from the richness of the sun, so we receive grace from the richness of Christ.