The Invisible God Made Visible

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 1:14-18 | September 17 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
September 17
The Invisible God Made Visible | John 1:14-18
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well. Help us, Father, to really believe that. Some of us need that later and some of us need that right now. Whatever comes our way, Jesus does all things well. We thank you for all that we have in Jesus. We thank you for all that we hold onto in in Jesus. And we thank you most of all for how he holds onto us. We pray now that you give us ears to hear, that your Word would breathe new life into our weary souls. You help us to listen, to pay attention, to learn, to grow, to be changed, to worship. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Have you ever met someone who becomes in your eyes more and more impressive the more you get to know them? That’s not normal. People can seem great on a first impression, most people are able to look halfway decent for a time and smile and talk friendly, then you walk away and you think wasn’t that wonderful? And then you get to know them a little bit more and you start to see someone warts and all. Or somebody can look very impressive from a distance. Maybe you’ve had the opportunity before, somebody who was your great hero or somebody famous, and you get to know them and you see that they’re a lot shorter than you thought, or they’re not as nice as you thought, or they have issues like we all do. For someone to look more impressive the more you see them, that’s rare.

My wife will tell you about the first time that I picked her up on a date. We had met before and we had gone out in some kind of context, but this was the first time that I was coming to pick her up on a date. And she had, I didn’t know this at the time, but she always sort of had a picture of, you know, the man who would sweep her off her feet would be driving a nice sort of manly pickup truck. Umm, that was a little know, you know, she did go to high school in Virginia so that was, you know, that was a little bit of good southern in her, to want her man to pick her up in a pickup truck. And so when I came by and picked her up promptly and rode in on my white steed, the white 1995 Dodge Neon, she was less than impressed. It was the first car that I ever owned and purchased and seemed like a good idea at the time. It was only later that my friends began to print out articles for me, “Top 5 Girl Cars,” and there it was, one of them on the top of the list, the Dodge Neon. No shame if you also drove one of those.

But I picked her up and at some point later in the conversation as we got to know each other, there was just that sort of question, just, “Kevin, the Neon, really? Why?” So now I just figure you just have kids and kids and kids and you’ll never be tempted to get a Neon again, you just have to get people movers to just sort of shuttle them all over. So I haven’t done the pickup truck, maybe sometime in my retirement days I’ll fulfill that lifelong dream for my wife. But I did figure, if nothing else with that early bit of disappointment, it was, the trajectory could only go up from there. And perhaps I could look more manly and more impressive as time went on by setting the bar very low.

But what if you have the bar set already extremely high, eternally high, and then you begin to see who this person really is and exceeds even all of those expectations. Well, that’s what we have when we meet the Lord Jesus Christ. They had these expectations of a messiah, but he was not the messiah that they thought they were going to get. And on first glance, he was probably not someone very impressive. If you were transported to first century Galilee, almost without a doubt you would not have been impressed with Jesus. Now if you saw the miracles, that would have got your attention, or saw the crowds. We don’t know what he looked like. But we know, because the prophets tell us, he had no form or majesty that we should be attracted to him. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with much grief. He came from a nobody family in a nowhere town and looked like nothing special. You would not, just to have seen him walk by, everyone wouldn’t have just started jerking their heads and “there he is,” “who is that man?” Just another person. Which is what makes the prologue to John’s gospel all the more amazing.

I want to read from John Chapter 1. If you aren’t there already in your Bibles, turn there. We’re coming to verses 15 through 18, but I think it would do us well before we leave beside this great opening statement that we would read the entire prologue.

So follow along as I read, beginning at verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt amount us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son, the only begotten 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.”

Think about all that is recorded in these first 18 verses about Jesus. Can you begin to count up the amazing affirmations about this person? I count at least 20 remarkable affirmations.

  1. 1. He is the Word. That is, he’s the Father speech. He’s God’s self-disclosure.

2. He is the pre-existent Word. There, just as Genesis began, 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” so this begins “in the beginning,” but not God, well, yes. “In the beginning, the Word.” So he was there with God in the beginning.

3. He has a privileged place with God.

4. The Word is God.

5. He was active in the creation of all things.

6. He is life.

7. He is light.

8. He overcomes darkness.

9. He came into the world.

10. He gives us the right to be called children of God.

Only halfway through the list.

11. He is the only one of the Father, begotten before all ages, distinct from the Father yet sharing the same essence with the Father, as we saw last week.

12. He became incarnate as a man.

13. He condescended to dwell in our midst. You think it’s an act of humility that you or I might step foot in a jail to minister to someone there? It is nothing compared to the Son of God taking on human flesh to live among us.

And he continues.

14. He’s greater than John the Baptist.

15. He’s greater than Moses.

16. He makes visible the invisible God.

17. He is at the Father’s side.

18. He’s full of glory.

19. He’s full of grace.

20. He is full of truth.

At least 20 remarkable affirmations about the Lord Jesus, which is why I said a few weeks ago, no matter what you think about Jesus, we can be certain that you and I think too little of him. Because it is impossible that we would think too highly of him. Twenty things in 18 verses, and any one of which can stretch your mind to the breaking point and ought to fill up your heart to overflowing.

I want to focus on just the last three words in that list. He’s full of glory, full of grace, and full of truth. And this will direct us to verses 15, 16, 17, and 18.

So let’s take together that pair, grace and truth. You see in verse 16, it says “from his fullness we have all received.” Now what is his fullness? His fullness is not like later gnostic heretics would teach, some kind of, you know, quasi-spiritual demarcation of some kind of demi-god. No, this is a fullness meaning there is no depletion in the Son of God, there is only abundance, only overflow. You cannot exhaust his riches. You never come in Jesus’ name in prayer and God says “nope, remember when you started out as a Christian, I gave you 1342 prayers in Jesus’ name. It’s empty now.” That you come and say “can I have mercy?” and God says “no, don’t you know, the mercy jar is all empty.” He has fullness, abundance, overflow. It is just as it is the nature of a fountain to overflow, so it is the nature of God. And what do we receive? Verse 16 says we receive from him grace upon grace.

I’ve been in Northern Ireland before and when they say this verse, it just sounds so much better. “Grace upon grace upon grace.” But you’ll just have to settle for a boring midwesterner. Grace. I’ve heard I had a midwestern accent and I didn’t even know what that was, I just that’s how normal people talk, but I guess it’s not.

Grace. What does it mean, grace upon grace? In Greek it is charis ante charis. That preposition in the middle, which would look to us like anti, can be translated this way, grace followed by more grace, or many people argue it’s grace instead of grace, or grace replacing grace. The idea being that there is a cascading fountain of grace, and just when you have one grace upon you, another grace begins to fall. And just as one grace leaves, another grace comes. Or just as God pours out his grace in one aspect of redemptive history, so another fuller dispensation of grace comes. Grace replacing grace upon grace.

And then he says the law, verse 17, was given through Moses, grace and truth through Jesus Christ. We’re apt to misunderstand this verse. We’re apt to think “ahh, that’s right, Moses—bad guy, Jesus—good guy, Old Testament—bad, New Testament—good. I like God of the New Testament, he’s nice; God of the Old Testament, he’s mean and cranky. Law—Moses, mmhmm, scary. Grace, truth.”

That’s not exactly what John has in mind. It’s not even the Pauline distinction between grace and law, law being the sort of works principle, the imperative, and grace being the mercy principle, or the indicative. Here’s what God tells you to do, but here’s what God has done for you. It’s not even that sort of Pauline contrast.

We know that the law was gracious. Romans 7:12, Paul even says the law is holy, righteous, and good.

And if the understanding in verse 16 is correct, that charis ante charis means grace instead of grace, or grace replacing grace, then John’s thought is that the law itself was an aspect of grace that came to us but it’s now been replaced and superseded by another grace, which means the contrast is not law/bad guy, Jesus/good guy, but it’s rather saying that we have in redemptive history the old covenant not being superseded by the new. So the law, the commandments, the first five books of Moses, they came, the Pentateuch, through Moses, and that was good and that was a gift and that was from God’s gracious hand. But now we have not just etched in stone, but now we have etched in the lines of a human face, this grace and this truth.

So the contrast isn’t good guy and bad buy, but rather the contrast is a candle versus the sun. Now we don’t need candles. It used to be that’s now you would light up your home, but now we just get them so that things smell good in your home and you can go and you can buy a candle like this, take out a mortgage and get a couple of them and get one of those candles, and they make your home beautiful, and smell nice. But before those days you needed candles. And so if all the electricity went out in your home and all you had were some of these candles, you would be thankful for them. And you could maybe write by them and you could read by them and you’d say “isn’t this beautiful? Isn’t this lovely? These candles are illuminating the house. They’re bringing light to us.” But when morning comes, and you throw open the curtains and it’s a bright, beautiful, sunshiny day, well, the candles are nice decorative pieces and they smell good but you hardly need those candles to see in the same way. It wasn’t that they were bad, but they’ve been so superseded by the rising of the sun.

And so it is with Jesus, the Son rising with healing in his wings, far exceeding the grace and the covenant that came through Moses. Law came through Moses and it was a good law. But now we have something better than the law, someone better than Moses. We have the Word made flesh. Grace and truth, living, breathing, walking among us.

I said last week when we were in verse 14, we basically skipped over that phrase “full of grace and truth” and we’d come back to it now as we’re in verse 17. And it is a good idea to camp out here for a few minutes, because this is one of those things that we really need to understand about Jesus, because there are people that, you know, Jesus is all the grace guy, and there are people that Jesus is all the truth. And so you have people that look at Jesus and they all ever can think about is “well, who is without sin? Let him cast the first stone. And didn’t Jesus say go and sin no more? And neither do I condemn you,’ and setting aside in your Bibles whether or not that is in the earliest manuscripts, let’s just set that question aside in John 8, some Christians just say ‘that’s the Jesus I love. The Jesus who’s telling people to stop judging, put away your stones, that I don’t judge you either, I don’t condemn you, just go out.” And people sometimes forget the part “sin no more,” they just kind of “didn’t Jesus just say go? Just go?” So they love Jesus’ grace. Oh, that’s Jesus. He’s just kind of walking around Galilee with, you know, a toga and a sash and a little halo and just hugging people, and it’s just so great. Just handing out flowers and cups of fair trade coffee. And it’s just great, I love Jesus. He’s so nice, he takes you to a U2 concert and just holds up his lighter and it’s just grace, grace, grace.

And then other people are really attracted to, you know, they know that’s wrong and that’s weak, but I got Jesus and Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. And you got people that every day they’re looking for money changers in the temple. And it doesn’t matter how cranky they are, they always have that sort of card to play. “You think I’m a jerk? Money changers. Okay. Jesus, a whip. All right?” So crack the whip, and that is their picture and they have a cartoon Jesus. Just this sort of hippy flower child or he’s just sort of this, you know, no-nonsense, always making demands, pushing people around, macho guy.

John tells us he came full of grace and truth. And as Christians we have to be full of grace and truth. Not half grace, half truth. Not, well, grace on Mondays, truth on Tuesdays. All grace, all truth.

I have told this story before, but years ago when I was being considered as the pastor at my previous church I had to fill out some forms and one of them was rank yourself on all these things, introvert/extrovert, and you want to be with people or you want to be with books, and all these sort of things, and I thought “well, how about I could be with books but people kind of hanging around, or something, or we’re reading books together,” but one of them was “Are you truth or grace?” And I think I got confirmation later that it was a trick question, but I wrote in and I said “Since Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth, I refuse to answer this question because we need to be 10 in both directions.” And then I still got the job.

That’s how some of us think of it, though. Where are you on the truth or grace? Are you kind of a truth person or kind of a grace person? In all of us, by dint of personality or upbringing or a whole bunch of other factors, we’ll tend to lean in one direction or another. Grace people are pleasant to be around, they don’t ruffle feathers, they cut us a lot of slack, easygoing, they accept us for who we are, but they may not make many demands. They’re welcoming, but without truth, grace isn’t really grace, it’s just accepting, it’s just being nice. Unconditional affirmation is not the same thing as love. Grace people, without truth, are pleasant to be around. But, we wonder, do they really like us or are they just wanting us to like them? They may be tolerant, but do they know the difference between right and wrong? Grace people can be cowardly, they can refuse to make tough decisions, they can demand nothing from others, and they may accept us for who we are, but are they really helping us become who we ought to be? That’s the danger.

And then there are truth people. Truth people are easy to admire. They have convictions, they have principles, they believe in right and wrong, they have standards, they speak out against injustice and oppression and evil. They are articulate, they’re well-spoken. They care about doctrine. But we all have seen, without grace telling the truth can be simply an excuse for being belligerent. Truth people without grace, they may be loyal and they may have a cause, but we wonder will they really be loyal to me when I make a mistake? They want to change us. They want to make us better. But do they allow us to make mistakes? They’re quick to cast judgment on others. And they’ll make different decisions and they’ll just say “well, let the chips fall where they may. We gotta move ahead.” But they can be slow to forgive. They inspire us with courage, but they turn us off with their intimidation.

If you are a grace person, you’re perhaps most concerned about being loved. What do people think? Do they like me?

If you’re a truth person, you’re most concerned about being right. “I don’t care if you like me, just that you see that I’m right.”

Both have their dangers. I’ve often said something is wrong if everyone hates you or everyone loves you. If everyone hates you, yeah, mmm, probably something’s not clicking there. But some of you are like “well, that’s it, that’s the cost for being faithful.” Or you’re a jerk—one of the two. But the other side is a danger, too. Everyone loves you, no one ever has a bad word, nobody ever thinks anything ill about you… Well, is it possible you’re just kind of a shape-shifter and you mould to whatever that group and that crowd want you to be and want you say? If you’re full of grace and truth, you’re going to have people loving you and you’re going to have people crossing to the other side of the road when you come by.

We need to be both. Jesus was all grace—he welcomed sinners, tax collectors, he ate with them, he had compassion on the crowds when they were hungry and far from home. He welcomed the little children to come and sit in his lap. He was gentler and kinder than the best department store Santa. He healed lepers, the lame, the blind. He saved the criminal on the cross who in his dying breath confessed that he was truly the Son of God. He was all grace.

And Jesus was all truth. He condemned many of the religious leaders of his day because they were liars and hypocrites. He talked about hell more than he actually talked about heaven. He called all his people disciples if they would pick up a cross and follow him. He prophesied judgment on Jerusalem. He obeyed the law. He set standards. He demanded his followers be willing to give up everything, even their very lives, to follow him. He came from the Father full of grace and truth, all grace, all truth, all the time.

But he didn’t come simply to give us an example of grace and truth. He came to save us in grace and truth. You and are I saved by encountering the One who is both. It’s only after we’ve been saved and made right with God, God says “all right, now that I’ve saved you through Jesus, you need to know I’ve saved you that you can look like Jesus.” The motivation to be full of grace and truth is not that we need to somehow earn God’s favor but that being a follower of Jesus means we look like the one that we follow. So we desperately need grace in our lives.

If someone said, “What does Christ Covenant need? Do they need an infusion of grace or an infusion of truth?” You’d just have to say, “well, yes, both.” Depending on the day, and most of us every day, we need to hear from Jesus: Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Don’t you need that from Jesus? We need to know that God isn’t saying “clean up your act and then come talk to me, all right? Let me see how you do with the 10 commandments for a year and then we’ll chat.” No, he says, “Come now, today. As long you hear my voice, in all of your brokenness, your pain, your sin, in humility and repentance and faith, come.” We need to hear that like wayward children, when we run from God, the Father comes and while we were still a long way off, Jesus said he ran to the prodigal and through his arms around him and he said “come home, sinner, come home” and he threw him a party. We need that grace.

And we need truth. So sort of get we need grace, but we need truth just as much. We need to hear from Jesus “the truth will set you free.” We need to hear from Jesus what it means when he says “I tell you the truth. Everyone who is a slave to sin is in slavery, but if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We need to know that. We need to know someone as gracious as Jesus who will in truth say “you’re not okay the way you are.” You know, the false gospel of our age is “I’m okay, you’re okay.” Jesus comes along and says “I’m okay, you’re not okay. But I can be okay for the both of us, if you’ll turn, repent, believe.” You have somewhere to go with those feelings of guilt. You know, our world just says “push them away, just you know what, you’re a good person, just don’t listen to it, it’s not you, you’re really good deep down,” and if any of you try that, it doesn’t work. You can get up and tell yourself the greatest pep talk every day—it doesn’t work. You have objective guilt. What are you going to do with it?

Well, you need the truth of Jesus to say “you are guilty, and I can forgive you. And on the cross you can be set free.” We need truth, we need grace, we need Jesus. Only Jesus Christ lived in perfect grace and perfect truth. Only Jesus Christ can save hard-hearted, hard-headed sinners. Only by believing in Jesus can we grow in the same truth and grace. How are you going to do jail ministry if you don’t have a Jesus who has both grace and truth? How are you going to go and minister to your kids if you’re not a parent who understands both grace and truth? How are you going to grow in your own sanctification if you don’t know Jesus who has grace for your sin and has truth to set you free? Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth. So if anyone ever asks you that question, if you ever have to fill out that job description, refuse to answer it. Just say “I want to be a 10 in both directions.” And I’m not, but by God’s grace, he’s going to get me a little bit closer each day.

And then I want to look at this last word, the word “glory.” We’ve already seen it in verse 14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” We have the same idea in verse 18, “no one has ever seen God, the only God who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

I pointed out in week one that John does something masterful with this prologue. He builds up such an impressive list of titles and achievements and characteristics, but until verse 17 he doesn’t actually name a name. So he’s just building, building. Now the readers would have known who he was talking about, but there is a masterful bit of story-telling suspense as he just introduces this figure, the Word. And let me tell you about the Word, the Word has always existed, there never was when the Word was not. And let me tell you, this Word was there at the very beginning with God the Father, but the Word is not God the Father but the Word is God just like the Father is God. And this Word shines light in the whole world and this Word brings life and through this Word, the entire cosmos was created. Not anything has been made apart from this Word. And John the Baptist came. He wasn’t the Word, but John came and he said “even though I’ve come before him, this person, meaning I’m a little bit older than him, nevertheless he far surpasses me. So can you believe it? This Word, this person, he’s greater than John the Baptist. He’s greater than Moses. He brings us things that Moses could never bring to us. This Word, this God, came down and took on human flesh and he tabernacled among us. He’s full of glory and grace and truth.” He just builds up this tremendous rolling snowball. Look it up on the internet—snow, it falls sometimes in the winter and it gets cold and it’s white… And this snowball, just rolling down this hill, building, building, building.

And it’s not until verse 17 he gives them a name. Who is this exalted one? Ahh, it is Jesus, the Christ.

You have to remember Jesus was a very common name. In some cultures people still, you know, have Jesus or Jesus as a name. In Anglo cultures, I’ve never baptized a Jesus. Nobody names their kids Jesus. So it has a sort of aura. There’s only one Jesus. But years ago I was reading a book and a scholar looked at all sorts of Jewish names in and around Palestine in the first century and found that Jesus was certainly in the top 10, maybe top 5, boys’ names. It was very common. It sort of blows your mind, but it was Mike or Frank or Jerry. When Mary and Joseph called their son Jesus, no one was praying in the name of Jesus. No one was looking to salvation in someone named Jesus. No one sang songs about Jesus. No one was using it as a swear word. We don’t name our son Frank with expectation that 8 billion people will pray in his name over the next 2000 years. There are no songs “Jerry, Jerry, there’s just something about…” I mean, we love all the Jerrys in this church, but we’ve not done that. Jesus—just an ordinary name. It’s like saying “the Word, it’s pre-existent, God who was with God, created all things and you know him… Here he is… Mike, the messiah.” Because that’s what Christ means. Christ is just the title for anointed one, messiah. Mike, there he is, come on down. But that was Jesus, of Nazareth.

When looking into his face, just an ordinary, first century Jewish face, the disciples saw something no human had ever seen: The very face of God. And the wonder of the incarnation is that in this miracle, it did not conceal the glory of God but fully and finally revealed it.

There is this striking comparison between John’s prologue and Moses on the mountain in Exodus 33. And we haven’t got there, it’ll be a few months before we get there, Lord willing, after the sin of the golden calf and Moses is doing his back and forth with God and the intercession there. And he says, remember, it says that Moses used to speak to God, and God would speak to him. So we have the Word coming, just like we have the Word in John 1, we have this communication, this self-disclosure from God to Moses on the mountain. Remember Moses says “let me see your face. Show me your glory.” And remember what God does? He has to hide him in the cleft of the rock. And he says “okay, you’ll see my glory-ish. Okay. You’ll see something, but you have to hide there in the rock and I’m going to pass by and you’ll see sort of the afterburners of my glory.” And what God does to actually show his glory is he speaks his name. He sees by hearing. Moses doesn’t, you know, get to see a face, something he can touch and hold onto and look in the eyes. God says “No, Moses, if you want to see glory, you’re going to have be hidden away, you’ve got to turn, and then you’ll get some of the backside of my glory and I’ll speak to you my name.”

Do you see why John can say grace replacing grace? Law through Moses, grace and truth through Jesus Christ? In Jesus they were able to see greater things than Moses ever saw. You think Moses? I mean, these are Jews. Moses? Moses was the coolest guy. Moses had sticks turn into snakes and Moses had miracles and Moses was on the mountain. He was the only one who got to go to the mountain, and God talked to him and God wrote the commandments with his finger. That Moses?

And John says “Moses didn’t see anything like this.” “You mean, Mike here?” “Yeah, Jesus. Of Nazareth. You know, Mary’s son. Joseph—you know that guy?” “Yeah, we know his brothers and sisters.” “Yeah, right. Him. He’s the Word made flesh, who dwelt among us.”

The God Moses could not see was seen in Jesus. And if that were not enough of a marvel, John piles up even more outrageous claims. Verse 18: “No one has ever seen God.” No, you you’ve seen theophenies of God, you’ve seen mountains quake, you’ve seen angels come, but not God face-to-face like that.

But then it says “the only God.” There again is the word we saw last week in verse 14: Monogeneis. So you can translate it “the only God” or you could say no one has ever seen God but the only begotten, God. In other words, God may be the designation that is here given to the monogeneis. The only begotten Son, namely God, because that’s who the Son is, he is God, he has made him known. And he is at the Father’s side. You can translate it “in the chest, in the bosom, in the lap” of the Father. Not so much as a child sitting in the lap of his much older father, but rather two adults reclining at table, able to converse freely and intimacy. This is the place of greatest unity, companionship, the Father and the Son. Just like Proverbs 8 says about wisdom: “I was beside him like a master workman and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.”

He makes known God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Many of us are so familiar with that confession it ceases to shock us and stun us when we say it. Imagine saying that about anyone else. “I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, mom, dad. He’s really special. When you look at him, you’ll see God.” Whoa, mom and dad are a little freaked out.

If I stood up and I said “so glad to be here and be your senior pastor and I want to lead and I want to shepherd and I want to study and I want to preach God’s word, and one other thing: When you see me, you see God.” Leave that church. “I made known to you the Father.” No, you instinctively realize, as C.S. Lewis said all those years ago, “this person is a liar or a lunatic or the very devil of hell. Who talks like this? Who would allow these things to be said about him?”

But here it is. No one has seen God. He’s invisible. How do you see an invisible God? And John says “I’ll tell you. Jesus. When you see him, you see God.”

And there’s one other Greek word. There are so many good ones here in this prologue. What’s translated there “made him known.” The Greek word “exegasato.” You could look at it and you would see it’s the Greek word from which we get the English word “exegete.” You know, a pastor exegetes a passage of scripture. His interpretation is the exegesis, what you got out of it. Now we don’t want to read English words back into the Greek, but in this case there is a relationship between the English word that comes from this Greek word, and it is the very last word of this prologue, the very last word in Greek. In English, it’s “known, made him known,” but that’s translating this one Greek word. The last word, exegete.

In other words, the point of this entire prologue as it sets the stage for the entire book, is to say let me introduce you to Jesus. Jesus is going to tell you the story of God. We think of it as a story about Jesus and the things he’s going to do and the things he’s going to say and the disciples, and it is all of that, but John says let me put this in the proper theological framework for you. I’m not just telling you a story about a man who did some stuff and then he died and we got sad and then he came to life we think. He’s saying I’m going to tell you a story about God. I’m going to do even better than that. I’m going to show you this God. And here it is. The exegesis of God the Father is God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “If you do not know him, you do not know me,” God says.

And as we move through these chapters, keep that always in mind. It isn’t first of all a story to help us to live better, although there is some of that. It is about believing in Jesus that we may have life, for sure. But even over all of that, it’s the story of Jesus as the story of God. You want to know who he is? We live in a world everyone wants something about God. Everyone’s talking about God, everyone wants to be spiritual, everyone wants some… But who is he? What is he like? And we’re here to say, according to God’s Word, the only way to really know God is by looking on the face of his Son. And when you do, and when you believe, you will have life and light and overjoy and abundance forever.

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, we thank you for your Son, the Lord Jesus, who makes you known. Give us minds to understand these things as best we can, hearts to embrace them, wills to obey, and give us now voices to sing as we praise you, our great triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.