John 1:15-18, Lift Jesus Higher

“15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”’) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” NIV

Jesus is the greatest (15). A certain well-known former boxer, who recently died, famously declared that he was ‘the greatest’, but no doubt his tongue was firmly in his cheek. Jesus is greater than the greatest of men and women. I guess we have no problems accepting that Jesus ‘surpasses’ us. We shouldn’t have.  He obviously does! We are mortal; He is eternal. We are men; He is God. But what about when we are surpassed by other human beings? When we are eclipsed in popularity and ability.? That supplies a real test of character. Can we be like John and determine to decrease so that another may increase? Richard Foster tells how his ministry colleague and elders sacrificially released him to write ‘Celebration of Discipline.’ They took on more work for a time to free him to serve the wider church. He is well-known in the Christian world because of this book. They are not. But they showed a humble, John the Baptist like spirit in order to make his work possible. They played a vital role.

Jesus is the Fountain Head (16, 17). Innumerable blessings flow from Him into our lives. ‘We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.’ The Message. 

We have every spiritual blessing in Christ. All these gifts are expressions of grace, i.e. Undeserved favour:

‘…there is a grace in our lives because of his grace’ (J.B. Phillips).

‘We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us – blessing upon blessing heaped upon us! For Moses gave us only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, while Jesus Christ brought us loving forgiveness as well’ (Living Bible).

Jesus is the revealer (18): ‘It is true that no one has ever seen God at any time. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known’ (J.B. Phillips). Someone translated this: ‘…has exegeted Him.’ Jesus shows us what the invisible God is like. As Michael Green wrote, He is ‘the window into God.’