Dipping Our Toes in the Ocean of Grace
Aug 2, 2013 2022
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16–17)
We wade in the river of grace, when Jesus has an ocean of grace prepared for us.
The opening verses of the gospel of John are so magnificent – you know them well – and that is probably why John 1:16 and 17 have been overlooked. But they are in fact the climax of the entire passage. And here John comes to what the story of Jesus is all about.
In these verses, John is not saying here that he has a problem with Moses. Neither does he have a problem with the law. The nature of what John is saying here is neither by way of a negative contrast between Moses and Jesus Christ, nor between the law and grace. The nature of what John is saying here is by way of a positive comparison. In other words, what John is essentially saying is that although the law is good, what Jesus Christ has brought to light is infinitely better.
For John, the coming of Jesus changes everything. The Old Testament pointed to the grace and truth that Jesus Christ has brought to light. But grace and truth were never manifested in the fullness of its objective reality until Jesus broke into this world. Think of it like this, without the New Testament, without the gospel, everyone who ever lived would be doomed to the misery of guilt and a life and death without God. There would be no grace and truth in this world.
What John is saying here is that grace is not just something that exists by and of itself. Grace was actually brought into being by Jesus Christ and fully manifested for all time at Calvary. Jesus did this by His self-sacrifice through which all sin can be forgiven and every sinner accepted, restored, and maintained to a right standing with God; and by which one day all things will be reconciled back to God.
For John, truth is never an opinion. Truth is never simply a doctrine. Truth is Jesus Christ. And grace and truth go hand in hand, for the truth that Jesus has brought into being is all about grace for sinners like you and me. And the grace that Jesus has brought into being is all about the truth of what Jesus has done for us.
In John 1:16, John writes, “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” In the Greek, the translated fullness here is a great word; it means the sum total of everything that fills something; what this thing is essentially made of. What John is telling us here is that the totality of everything that fills Jesus Christ is grace. The picture that John gives us here is that Jesus literally is made of grace. And from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. The Greek literally means here that we have received grace instead of grace. Grace that replaces grace.
The idea here is, as Paul also said, that where sin abounded, grace abounded more. Yes, there will always be enough grace for you. We dip our toes in the stream of grace, when Jesus has a river of grace prepared for us; we wade in the river of grace, when Jesus has an ocean of grace prepared for us; we swim in an ocean of grace, when Jesus has a tsunami of grace prepared for us.
So here is the summarised version of what John says in these few verses. It’s beautiful and perfect in its simplicity:
The law came through Moses. But Jesus has brought grace into the world. And as much as the law may condemn, Jesus will save. And that’s the truth!