ATP Blog: Timeless Word
John 1:15-16 “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.’’ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”
Being bound by time, we often have a hard time understanding God’s perspective on life. We understand, sort of, that God has always existed in the three persons. Yet, we struggle with seeing Jesus born as a baby in about 4 BC, basing our whole calendar on His birth as the climax of all earth’s history, then hearing what John had to say in the verses above. John the baptizer was sent for a short period of time to prepare the people for the arrival of the living and eternal Word of God, the Messiah, God in the flesh. His witness declared that Jesus Christ is The One. This sounds kind of like the Matrix, doesn’t it? All of the Old Testament looked forward to this One, who would save mankind from the sin problem, bringing reconciliation between us and God, once and for all time. This ultimate sacrifice would cover all history: past, present, and future.
“He who comes after me” John, upon seeing Jesus in person, points Him out to the people he is preaching to, saying ‘This is He.’ This is the One he had been talking about. This is the One, who would begin His ministry after John was done. John B’s ministry was short because it was a time of repentance and preparation for the arrival of the Messiah, the Christ.
“Is preferred before me” John recognized that Jesus Christ was far greater than he ever was, or ever would be. His ministry of preparation would diminish greatly now that The Word was ready to share His life with mankind. In John 3:30, this great prophet announced to his disciples that “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The point of John’s ministry was to draw people, and point to The Word.
“He was before me” This is the confusing part for most. If Jesus came after John, how could He exist before John? Later on, Jesus Himself would tell the Pharisees (John 8:58), “Before Abraham was, I AM.” This is a profound statement. Jesus, The Word, is telling them (and us) not only that He existed at the time of Abe, but that He is God. The Almighty Creator had given Moses the name ‘I AM’ to denote an eternal existence. Now Jesus was stating clearly that He is the I AM, the timeless One.
“Of His fullness we have all received” Now we see the result, and the application. Fullness is completion; the filling of what is needed, and the fulfilling of the promises God had made. His fullness, referring to Jesus Christ, is explained in Colossians 2:9, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He is completely God in the flesh. We will see later that Jesus surpressed some of His Godly attributes to fully experience the human form, and make it possible for us to follow His example, however, He was still completely God. The Word, full of grace and truth, was fully represented to mankind. And it was to ALL of mankind that the Truth, which was graciously given, was provided.
“And grace for grace” God has always offered grace and truth together. The Pulpit Commentary tells us, “The grace replaced by grace means that every grace received is a capacity for higher blessedness.” The grace of the old covenant was replaced by an even greater grace of the new covenant, a better covenant through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Application As we examine, through the writing of the Apostle John, who Jesus Christ is, let us know and believe that He is the Timeless Word. It is because of this that He understands our lives and world far better than we can. Therefore, we can trust Him, even rely on Him for the wisdom He promises to those who ask.