Moses asked to see the visible glory of God, and He proclaimed His name verbally. Jesus is saying, "If you want to see the mind and nature of God, if you want to see His attitudes, look at Me." God reveals Himself and declares His glory to us through the life, works, and words of Jesus of Nazareth as He opens our minds by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus is "the way" because of all mankind, only He, unmarred by sin, has intimate knowledge of God. Knowing God depends on our knowledge of the truth about Jesus. He shows the way we must walk, the direction and manner of living and relating to others. This is precisely the knowledge Jesus gives. Many times when we ask directions in a strange city, the response confuses us because we are unfamiliar with the town. But when we ask directions of Jesus, He says, "Come, follow Me, and I will take you there."
Some people may teach truth, but He embodies truth; He is "the truth." A man may teach geometry, and his character may not affect his teaching. But if one teaches moral truth, character is paramount. Keeping the third commandment properly revolves around knowing the truth about God and His way.
Colossians 1:15; 2:9 are among the strongest statements in the Bible about the divine nature of Jesus: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." He not only is equal to and reflects God, but He also reveals God to us because He is God. He is completely holy and has authority to judge the world.
We can have no clearer view of God than by looking at Christ. He is the full revelation of God to man. He is the complete expression of God in a human body. He is unique: God became a man, imposing upon Himself the same time-space limitations as other men.
He had every opportunity to waste time, get sick, eat gluttonously and become overweight, drink and experience a hangover, "fly off the handle" in anger, or attack others when someone pricked His vanity. He could have become bitter from rejection or depressed when things did not go His way. He could have worked or played with intense competitiveness to "win at all costs." He had to face death, His own as well as of loved ones. He could have felt "the deck was stacked" against Him.
The gospels show God coping with life on the same terms as men. Now we can really see what kind of character God possesses. Jesus' life gives us firsthand knowledge of what the true way of life is, allowing us to cooperate with Him in His purpose. Among many other things, we see God teaching, healing, sacrificing His life, correcting in love, guarding His flock, and patiently counseling.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)
Notice in verse 14 that Jesus is described as "full of grace"—suggesting lovingkindness and benevolent gifts—"and truth." Then, verse 16 says that from that fullness of grace we receive grace. In other words, it is from our relationship with Him that we receive many beneficent gifts toward salvation.
Other Bibles translate the phrase "grace for grace" as "grace on grace" or "grace upon grace." In a paraphrase, it may be rendered as "blessing after blessing." The phrase pictures grace as if it were objects being stacked one on top of another or endlessly linked as if side by side.
Our calling is an act of God's grace, a gifting completely apart from any merit on our part. We tend to think of grace primarily in regard to justification and the forgiveness of sin, but that is far, far too limiting. John is showing us that our relationship with God through Jesus Christ is a connection that supplies us with a continuous flow of grace, blessings, gifts, favor, powers, forgiveness, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, healings, protection, and more through God's loving concern.
He is not supplying our every desire but our every need as His spiritual creation of each of us moves toward His conclusion. Again, remember that, for this truth to be more fully appreciated, it must be understood that He does not owe us one tiny jot or tittle of it. Just as surely as the manna physically appeared to the unconverted Israelites every morning in the wilderness and the cloud was in the sky by day and a pillar of fire by night, God is supplying our every need in relation to His salvation and purpose.
It is all freely given toward His glorification and His purpose of creating us to fill a position, a place in His Kingdom. The apostles used charis ("grace") in many other situations, but they applied it most especially to mean the powers given by God to meet our spiritual needs.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and God's Grace
Some commentators feel that this is the greatest verse in the Bible because the apostle John is saying that God became a man. The Greeks could have never, not in their wildest imaginations, have thought—with their background of philosophy and with the gods they worshipped—of God becoming a man. Doing so would have been something too far beneath a god to do. They believed that flesh is evil, so they could not associate a perfectly pure and righteous God becoming something they considered inherently evil. Yet, God "became flesh and dwelt among us."
The word "flesh" is the exact same word that the apostle Paul uses in his books to designate human nature. When we remember some of the things the Bible says about the flesh, John is saying that the Word—the Logos, the pre-existent One, the Creator—became subject to humanity in its fullness, in the exact same way that we are subject to humanity.
He was subject to the pulls of the flesh. He could have been influenced by Satan. He had human desires. The possibility was there for Him to have the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. God did not withhold Him from any of these things. It is awfully hard to think of God encumbering Himself with humanity, but there was a reason why it had to be done.
To be the payment—to be man's Savior—He had to be a human (Hebrews 2:14-18). However, He had to be a man who was more than a man. He had to be encumbered with humanity yet be God in the flesh. He had to be both at the same time. So, the pulls of the flesh could not be withheld from Him. He had to endure and overcome those things. He had to rise above the influences of Satan the Devil to become the payment for the sins of the people and also to be prepared to be a merciful and faithful High Priest.
This has a great deal to do with our calling because we have been called to become priests—kings and priests, as Revelation 5:10 says. What we go through during our converted lives is similar to what Christ went through. As He was called to become High Priest, we are called to become priests under Him. So, we have to experience trials similar to what He did. To qualify for what He is, He had to go through what we do. God is preparing us to aid others who will come along later, just as Jesus was prepared to aid us.
Therefore, the Word became flesh and everything that "flesh" might mean.
John W. Ritenbaugh
John (Part Three)
In John 1:14, 18, the Greek term translated as “only begotten” is monogenes. Only John uses this adjective to describe Jesus, and he uses it five times. Its most common usage in Greek is as a term of endearment, though that is not all it adds to Jesus' standing before humanity. The way John uses it also specifically indicates a human family relationship.
It also carries the sense of “only,” intensifying the sense of endearment with the idea of singleness or uniqueness. Thus, the sense of “only” becomes an important addition. There are no others like Him, and Scripture adds that there never has been. He is unique even in respect to all other usages of “son of God” in the Bible. He stands alone. Our Savior has no competition.
At this point, we need to grasp a simple, Greek grammatical rule that most English-speakers are not normally exposed to. In Greek, ho is the equivalent of the English definite article “the.” However, the apostle John does not place ho before “only begotten” in verse 14, nor before “Father” in verse 18 (though most English translations supply it anyway). Its absence is legitimate in Greek usage, as it intensifies the descriptive power of the term “only begotten”—and thus what John is attempting to explain. It amplifies its power.
By writing it in this manner, John specifically signifies that Jesus is the single, sole, exclusive, only representative and—this is important—character (image) of the Being, the Father, who sent Him. This lays additional, greater glory upon the characteristics revealed about Jesus in context.
The apostle's object was to demonstrate and emphasize as best he could through mere words the height of the level of glory he and his fellow apostles witnessed in their three-and-a-half-year relationship with Jesus. With words, He severs Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, from all other set-apart sons of God in the Scriptures, as well as from any kind of earthly, human, generational relationship.
Essentially, he is stating that Jesus' relationship with the Father was unoriginated. All human relationships are originated and continue through the pairing of a father and a mother. Jesus' relationship with the Father was not so. There is nothing we humans could conceive of as a sexual act by the Father that produced Jesus.
This reality should have a major impact on how we understand Their unity. Recall that Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one.” Therefore, everything the Father is in character Jesus is also, even though Jesus is a separate personality from the Father. Just as the Father has always existed, so has the Son. The apostle John used this grammatical rule five times, so we would get the point. Jesus was and is every bit as much God as the Father.
Thus, the term “begotten” as used regarding Jesus does not apply in the same way it does for humans. Nevertheless, John used it to establish the concept of a family relationship so we could understand our relationship to God, as Father and child, more clearly.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1
Jesus Christ was sent as the Forerunner (Hebrews 2:10, archegos, “one who goes before”) to live among men in order to reveal His Father, the Living God (Matthew 11:27; John 14:7-11; 17:6-7). This prodigious work necessitated that Christ be willing to “drink the cup” and suffer many burdens, the greatest being His arrest, persecution, crucifixion, and death at the hands of His own creation. As our Forerunner and an example to all men, it was incumbent on Christ to submit to the will of the Father and to do so with a perfect attitude of faithful humility. His incomparable level of submission allowed Him to become our Savior, a type of which is ultimately required of everyone to enter the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:6).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Malchus' Ear (Part Two)