The Best Picture
John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
John 1:15-18 (NIV)
John gives us a clear view of the implications of the incarnation. John the Baptizer recognizes the pre-existence of Jesus. He understands and clearly shows us over and over again that, unlike other human beings, Jesus did not come into existence at conception. Instead, He existed from before the world began (John 17:5), before time even existed, eternally one with the Father.
John also recognized that Jesus did not come as another mighty lawgiver, like Moses. The law that God gave through Moses was enough; it did its intended job well. Through it mankind had learned that a) God is a holy God, and as such, He requires that His people live up to the highest moral standards, and that b) people, due to their deep-seated sinful nature, are totally incapable of meeting the basic requirements set forth in the law. At the time Jesus came on the scene, the people didn’t need more, or more stringent, laws and requirements; they needed grace, power,and cleansing so that they could keep the laws and requirements that were already in effect. They didn’t need a single new written requirement to move them into holiness from the outside; they needed an inner transformation that would move them from the inside to follow God’s commands (Ezekiel 36:25-27). And that is exactly what Jesus brought – what John calls “grace and truth.” After He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to renovate His followers completely, melting, molding, shaping, and filling them so entirely that their old, stony hearts were burned away, and new, soft, responsive hearts were put in their place – a transformation that holiness people refer to today as Entire Sanctification, or the fullness of the Spirit.
But Jesus did even more than that. He also brought the reality of God to His people like never before. Moses saw God face-to-face (without, however, being allowed to see His full glory – Exodus 33:18-23), but few others were able (or willing) to come that close to the Almighty. But when Jesus came, He made the Father real and knowable for every person on Earth in a very tangible way. The Father and the Son are One (John 10:30), so to see the Son is to see the Father (John 14:9), and to intimately know the Son is to intimately know the Father. As one fourth grader put it, “Jesus is the best picture God ever took!”