We've noticed before that John knows how to pack a lot of theology into a small package . . . this passage is no exception! Let's dive right in!
Notice that in verse 18, John presents us with a possible problem: "No one has ever seen God." Hmmm, I think we remember times that someone has seen His glory, or His works, right? But never really seen all of Him? So God, being invisible to us, has chosen ways to reveal Himself.
In verse 17, we see that He revealed Himself in the law, as given to Moses, before He revealed Himself in Christ. Now, on first glance, we might read that and think that John is using contrast here . . . is he saying that the law is not gracious and truthful? Nope.
I believe that verse 17 is telling us that before the real, the mortal, the fleshly revelation of grace and truth came (Jesus), that a witness to grace and truth was given in the law. Clear as mud? Let's look at some other things that John said:
"If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" John 5:46We can see that Moses' written words were in harmony with Jesus and the truth about His grace. And in John 3:14, Moses is mentioned doing something that points toward Jesus:
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."So, I believe that John is saying here that Moses gave witness to the grace and truth of God, and that Jesus was the fulfillment -- the true revelation of that grace and truth. That is how, as John said in verse 18, He has "made Him known."
God became human, and revealed His truth and grace to us. He wants us to know Him. And we can know Him by studying and learning more about Jesus. The psalmist said that he wanted to truly know God --- we can! Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. By knowing more of Him, we know God. His grace -- John says the fullness of His grace -- is revealed to us.
God is not sparing when it comes to grace. He is not stingy. He wants to give us "grace upon grace." What does that mean to us today?
It means that He doesn't just want to fill our heads with "head knowledge" about Him; He wants to give us "heart knowledge" as well. He wants for us to receive and experience that grace and truth.
He can forgive our sins, take away our guilt, help us with our problems and give us strength, hope and joy to walk with Him through each day!