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Living for Eternity: A Study in John’s Gospel – “The True Light” Part 2 – Mark Ottaway

Living for Eternity: A Study in John’s Gospel

The Revealing of Christ

John 1:14-2:25


Turn to John 1. This morning will be a little unusual. I had said this will not be a verse-by-verse study of John’s Gospel. I have not kept my word so far. But we will see that this week. What is occurring in the book of John is a revealing of Christ and all that He is. I had mentioned in week #1 that John was written later than the other three gospels, and therefore, he has the advantage of a knowledge of a great deal of theology now written by Paul. The theme verse for this week is John 1:14:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14 (LSB)


Now this is the revelation of Christ as He has come to the earth. John has already indicated that Christ was from the beginning, that in Him was life (emphasis on eternal life). That He was the true Light. And this is what is going to occur over chapters 1-2, which will reveal four significant truths about who Christ is. That He is the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Saviour of the World, the King of kings. It is so important in our day and age to better know who Christ is. For the culture does not know this, nor of course, some within the church. The identity of Christ, the truth of what Christ did is either not known today, or it is not believed. Certainly, a few years ago most knew of Christ. Of course, most knew the Bible stories, but no longer.


I would say that many in my generation who did not become Christians were not always because they did not believe in the truth of Christ. But it was because of an unwillingness to leave their sin. In other words, they were not willing to follow Christ. So, a major part of our evangelism then was the plea to receive Christ. Give your life to Him, and ask Him to forgive You. Know the senselessness of your life without Christ. And that may be still much of the argument that many people need today. In other words, the conviction of a relationship with Christ may still be in some, maybe because of how they were brought up. That seed just needs to be watered.


Yet for the most part today, there is a great step back from that, as most will not be aware of who Christ is and what Christ has done. And even if they do, there is no longer the conviction to follow Him. And this is really the culture that the gospels find themselves. When Jesus arrives on the scene, there is no real conviction to follow Him, nor is there any knowledge of who He is. As the culture today is becoming more and more the same as the attitude of Pharaoh before Moses, who said, “Who is Yahweh that I should listen to His voice to let Israel go?” As today they may be thinking, who is Christ that I would follow Him?


So, who Christ was and what he has done must be part of our gospel message, or it only becomes an emotional plea to follow someone that holds no weight or position in the hearts and minds of people. So, let’s pray before we begin. Lord, we are about to study the coming of Christ, the answer to our primary problem, and the eternal solution to every ailing heart. And though we know the stories, might they grip us when we see Your glorious coming, of who You are and what You have done. There may also be those here this morning that do not see Christ in the way in which He is revealed in these chapters. They only know of Christ, but they do not know Christ inwardly. So, be with us this morning. Grant us attentive hearts and minds. For we ask this in the name of Christ, amen.


So, let me walk you through what is happening in this early section of the Gospel of John, as we will be flipping back and forth in John chapters 1 & 2 all morning. As you know John begins in chapter 1 with the proclamation that Christ came from eternity past. In verse 6, John the Baptist is introduced as the one called to introduce Christ. He was not the Christ or Light, but came to bear witness of the true Light. The writer John (don’t get this mixed up with John the Baptist, the writer John of course is John the Apostle) will then go on to explain that a person must believe in this Jesus to be saved. That this new birth comes from God. Then in verse 14, the writer John, will exult in the fact that Jesus came to live among mankind. And again, that it was John the Baptist who bore witness of Christ. John the Baptist is asked over and over again if he is the Christ. He denies it, and proves this for when he finally sees Jesus he says (vs 29).

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:29 (LSB)


Then near the end of John 1, Jesus begins to call His disciples: (vs 40) Andrew, (vs 42) Peter, (vs 43) Philip, and (vs 45) Nathanael (Bartholomew). Chapter 2 opens with the story of Jesus turning the water into wine. Then near the end of John 2, Jesus cleanses the temple, where he drives out the money changers. And as John relates these stories, we find that theology is packed within them. And we are able to learn four major truths revealed about this Christ. First, He is revealed as:


  1. The Son of God (1:34, 49)


Listen to the words of John the Baptist:

“And I myself have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:34 (LSB)


And then later in verse 49 by Nathanael:

“Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’”

John 1:49a (LSB)


Understand that you and I when we come to Christ become sons and daughters of God. But this is the Son of God. And there are a number of things revealed about the Son of God in these early chapters of John:


  1. The Deity of Jesus Christ


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:1 (LSB)


Firstly, we learn that because Christ is God He possesses the same attributes or characteristics as God.


  1. Christ is Eternal


You and live for eternity because the Lord placed within us a soul. Animals do not have an eternal soul. I am not expecting to see Ted 1,2,3, or 4 in heaven. And though you and I live for eternity, as even unbelievers will live for eternity apart from God, but Christ is eternal in the sense that he has been from eternity past.


  1. Christ is Creator


These are all attributes of God the Father. The same attributes of Christ. Verse 3, that apart from Christ nothing was made that was made.


  • Christ Possesses Glory


Verse 14, and we beheld his glory. Christ is His humanness chose to veil some of His glory so that He could live upon the earth with mankind. Know that Christ possesses all the glory of the Father.


  1. Christ is Omnipotent


Obviously, the One who created all things must be omnipotent, all-powerful. This is why Christ was able to change water into wine. And this was just the beginning.

“Jesus did this in Cana of Galilee as the beginning of His signs, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.”

John 2:11 (LSB)


Signs, the miraculous, as Christ was able to do things that went against the laws of science. Water into wine, diseases immediately healed, and people were raised from the dead. These were miracles that we do not see today in the same way. We might thank the Lord for those He has healed, that as we may pray, God may choose to heal someone. But this was Christ touching the blind and they could immediately see. This was touching the lame and they could immediately walk. We might refer to the birth of a child as a miracle. But this has been going on since the creation of the world. This is the natural order of things, yet Christ raised people from the dead. I am not downplaying our gratefulness for the Lord’s goodness and gracious providence in our lives today. But this was God walking on the earth and demonstrating His divine power. For He was the Son of God


  1. Christ is Omniscient


A term that means that Christ, like the Father, is all-knowing. Though Christ does seem to have voluntarily limited Himself. As He says (Matt 24) that He does not know the time of His return, but only the Father. And yet at other times, we read things (Matt 9) that Christ knew what they were thinking. So, we definitely have in the Bible times when Christ would display His humanity, and other times when he would fully display His deity. Notice in our passage a couple of things. First:

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, when they saw His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He had no need that anyone bear witness concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man”

John 2:23-25 (LSB)


In other words, He knew the heart of man. Secondly, Christ said that he saw Nathanael sitting under a fig tree (1:48) before He actually saw Him physically. This brings us to the story of Christ’s cleansing of the temple, where He turns over the tables and condemns the money-changers, and fulfills the prophecy which is given in both Psalm 69:9 and here in John 2:17, “zeal for your house will consume Me.” It would seem to me that he is speaking more from His deity, as He knew the heart of man and knew the wickedness of those selling in the temple. Christ was the Son of God, and therefore He was Deity. Secondly, He is revealed as:


  1. The Son of Man (1:14, 51)


John 1:14, the Word became flesh. The eternal Son of God became flesh. In other words, He became a Man. When He was baptized, John the Baptist was given the sign that this was the Christ, as it tells us (1:32-33) that the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. And in (1:51) Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man. This is why theologians describe Christ as fully God and fully Man. We in evangelical circles can sometimes overlook the truth of Christ being fully Man. This is why He depended upon His Father. This is why at times Christ was hungry and why He was tired. Luke makes this great comment about Christ in Acts 2:

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know⁠—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of lawless men and put Him to death.”

Acts 2:22-23 (LSB)

This is so hard for us to understand. That when the disciples lived with Christ, they were truly walking beside the God of the universe, and yet at the same time they were truly walking beside a Jewish brother. And we tend to highlight the God of the universe, yet Christ was just as much a Jewish Man as He was God. I noticed the parallel of both these truths in John 2:11-12 during the miracle of the water into wine. I would suggest that they believed Him to be a Man, which of course he was, but they were learning of His deity.

“Jesus did this in Cana of Galilee as the beginning of His signs, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.”

John 2:11-12 (LSB)


The Son of Man. Next, He is revealed as:


  1. The Saviour of the World (1:16, 29, 36; 2:19)


It would become apparent to the disciples as the story goes on that Jesus was the Saviour of the World, as the writer John here expresses such depth:

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”

John 1:16 (LSB)


The phrase here grace upon grace is a hard phrase to translate. Some of your Bible say grace for grace (to insinuate an exchange). The NIV actually tries really hard to state this, “received grace in place of grace already given.” Now I would suggest that the phrase grace upon grace is very literal, as some have described this as waves coming into a shore. Grace upon grace, one after the other. The term grace of course means unmerited or undeserving favour of God to those who are under condemnation. Therefore, grace upon grace means favour from God over and over again that we do not deserve. Look at the context:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has been ahead of me, for He existed before me.”’ For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”

John 1:14-18 (LSB)


John 1:14-18 is highlighting two things, (vs 14) glory;

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14 (LSB)


and (vs 16) grace:

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”

John 1:16 (LSB)


Glory and grace. This is the focus of this passage. And after verse 16, the word grace is never used again by John in this Gospel nor in 1 John. Here is the message I believe that we need to know from this passage. If you want to see God in all His glory, if you want to learn as much about God this morning as you can, then never overlook or never underestimate this phrase grace upon grace. Do unbelievers understand this? No. If they do know anything about the Bible, they might think that God is unfair. They might believe that a God who condemns people to hell is an evil God or an unloving God or is some kind of heartless God. And if this is their view of God, they do not understand God.


Listen, for a person to understand God, he must understand his or her need for grace. We learned last week that the way in which someone is saved is a work of God (vs 13). And is not the will of the flesh nor the will of man. In other words, if I cannot believe because of my own sinful will, then that means I need something or Someone to work on my behalf, and that is what God does. If you do not believe this, just look at the passage. Verse 10, Jesus came but they did not know Him. Verse 11, Jesus came to His own, but they did not receive Him. If God did not act and left us on our own, we all would have lived and breathed and laughed and raised kids and played sports, went on picnics, and went to concerts, and ate pop tarts and ignored Christ. Because you and I need something from God?


Why were we able to see this glory of God (vs 14)? The answer, because we have received grace upon grace. Grace enabled us to see the glory of God. That is the argument here.

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

John 1:17 (LSB)


Why is John bringing up Moses? What is the point of Moses? Moses saw the glory of God. In fact, Moses asked the Lord if He would show him His glory. This is the biblical story. The Law was given to Moses and Israel becomes this exiled nation. Why? Because they were not obedient to the Law of God. And therefore, we understand from the Scriptures that you and I cannot be saved by the Law. We can never be good enough, in fact, we are born as sinners. In other words, we are already condemned at birth because of our sinful nature.


But we could also say, that you and I could not be saved without the Law. For the Law represents an acceptance before God. The Psalmist knew this (Ps 19:11), in the keeping of the Law there is great reward, practical rewards, great rewards in life, and eternal reward. And anyone who obeys the Law is accepted by God. The problem, however, is that no one can keep the Law. God’s Law needs to be obeyed for people to be eternally saved. Problem, I cannot obey, you cannot obey. Now we say we keep God’s Law at times or we have kept some portions of God’s Law, but Jesus said if you disobey even one part of the Law, you have disobeyed the entire Law. But, in verse 17, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Christ fulfilled the Law, Christ obeyed the Law, Christ was the example of truth, the pinnacle of truth. I’m not, you’re not, Christ is!


So, when I realize my own heart. When I realize my inability to live under what the Law demands on my life. I then realize the fairness in God’s judgment on me and on everyone else. Only then does it become so amazing to me to realize what Christ came to do. That He lived the ultimate life of obedience and the grace of offering His life for my life, I become overwhelmed with the grace of God toward me. And this is part of our faith, this is part of what we believe (vs 12), that we understand the true God. Which includes knowing our own condition as God has taught in His Word, and knowing what God has actually done for us. I believe John is expressing here his understanding of Christ, as he is overwhelmed with the grace that comes from Christ. The continual grace upon grace, wave upon wave.


And what I love about John is that he is presently overwhelmed with Christ. I think that many of us will be overwhelmed when we see Him. But oh, the joy of being overwhelmed with Christ now. You know the proper response for the Christian when asked, how are you doing? Would be, I am overwhelmed with Christ and the continuous grace which he bestows. Grace upon grace. And the primary fountain of this grace is our Lord’s gift of forgiveness, which he knew from the very beginning.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’”

John 2:19 (LSB)


As He knew that he would give His life for His sheep. Look what John the Baptist said:

“On the next day, he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”

John 1:29 (LSB)


Here we see Christ as (vs 29, 36) the Lamb of God. The sacrificial Lamb. Not only for His people Israel but for men and women of all nations. This is what it refers to when it says that Christ took away the sin of the world. Not every sin specifically, but all the sin of all mankind who would ever believe. Now the sins that those who are outside of Christ, those sins will be punished in hell, for they have not been paid for by Christ. For you need to know that for you and me to stand before God, it will require forgiveness and payment for every one of our actions. From the worst outward sin to the smallest wrong thought. Christ paid for every one of them. This is the good news, the gospel. That Christ died for every sin, ever committed, by every person, who would ever believe. And the Lord’s forgiveness of every single sin is only available because of the sacrifice of the Eternal Lamb. And this is why we will sing forever in heaven before the Lamb:

“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain and purchased for God with Your blood people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

Rev 5:9 (LSB)

The Saviour of the world. This brings us to our last revealing of Christ.


  1. King of All Kings (1:49)


Look at:

“Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’”

John 1:49 (LSB)


When Nathanael finds out that Christ saw him before he saw him, he declares, “You are the Son of God, You are the King of Israel!” Nathanael sees Christ as King of Israel here.

But we will learn later in Scripture that Jesus (stated by John himself in Revelation 17 & 19) is the King of kings and Lords of lords. John goes on to say how much greater Christ was than all.

This One is He who comes after me, of whom I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal.”

John 1:27 (LSB)


John the Baptist realizes early here that Jesus is:


  1. Higher than All (1:19-27)


I want you to think about that for a moment, that Jesus is higher than all. He is greater than any man, any ruler. Jesus Christ is the greatest. And yet it is really easy to think about self, isn’t it? Every time the Lord may prod us, it is so easy to think about self. Yet Christ must be Lord, for He is higher than all. And we see that immediately in John’s gospel. For as soon as Jesus begins His public ministry, He begins to call disciples. Because He:


  1. Demands to be Followed (1:37-51)


Here Jesus calls the beginning of His twelve disciples, and they leave everything and follow Him. And all twelve disciples follow Him to the end, except for Judas. I love Peter’s statement when it is getting near the end of Christ’s life, when maybe there was some question of where this was all going, “Lord, we have left everything to follow you.” They truly did leave everything, though they would be rewarded 100 times over. But that was not always apparent at the moment. And this is where we find ourselves, in this time of faith and trust. Trusting that following Christ will be our victory.


Imagine if we lived in these early days of Jesus as a Jew, living under Roman rule. Probably everything we had was always threatened to be taken from us. And then Christ appears. And you had not met Christ yet, but the storyline out there was that there was a guy (weird guy) who was proclaiming that the Christ had arrived. And you became one of the two disciples with John. And all of a sudden Jesus walks up (1:34) and John says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Look with me:

“And the two disciples heard him speak and followed Jesus. And when Jesus turned and noticed them following, He said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’”

John 1:37-39a (LSB)


Come and you will see. Wow! That’s faith! Now one of the first things that those who followed Christ did in the early church. They were obedient to Him by being baptized. As we see in our passage that Jesus was baptized as an example of all those who would follow Him. Because baptism is sort of a pillar that says before others, I will serve Christ. So, if it is your desire to serve Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, your need to be baptized (and talk to one of the elders about that). And what I enjoy about these first two disciples is that they don’t seem overly concerned about anyone else, or what anyone might think. No, their focus is to follow Christ.


May this be us, committed, baptized, willing followers of Christ. Because we understand what He has done for us. Grace upon grace. And may we understand that and be amazed by that today, and not wait until eternity, Let’s pray. Lord, may we follow You as Lord. Grateful slaves of the King of kings. And all God’s people said, amen.