John 1.

1866 30 This first chapter of John brings out all the various personal glories of Jesus, excepting Head of the Church and High Priest. He is the Word, Life, Light, Son of God, Lamb of God, Messiah, King of Israel, and Son of man. He is King of Israel, according to Psalm 2, and Son of man according to Psalm 8 where all things are spoken of as put under Him. Philip is a type of the remnant of Israel.

In the two days of chapter 1 we have the ministry of John Baptist and the ministry of Christ. "The third day," in chapter 3, is a shadowing forth of the marriage, when Israel shall no more be "desolate," but "married." It is millennial glory, in its two features, the marriage having to do with the despised residue of Israel from verse 1, and the judgment of evil in Jerusalem, shown forth from verse 14.

Looking at the beginning of chapter 1, we see what the grace is in which God deals with us. Christ is displayed as Light. He was the perfect manifestation of God in whom is no darkness at all. Christ is beyond the region of law. The law never brought to God. It only showed us what we ought to be before God, but could never bring God to us or us to God.

In Christ it is God displaying Himself in grace. Jesus did not come to judge; that He will do hereafter. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," etc. "In the beginning was the Word." He is Creator. "All things were made by him." In him was life. He was a divine person (and that was essential) and He communicates eternal life. This Life was the Light of men, not of angels — the light, not terror, of men; but He showed what everything was and thus convicted their consciences. In Him men saw what they ought to be, for He brought the image of God down into their very path and reflected God's light on it. All that God was might be seen in His character. Holiness, love, truth, patience — all were displayed in Him. He never was moved or flattered. All was displayed in a man, and therefore it is intelligible to men. When I am impatient, vexed, heated, I can understand the patience of another towards me. Look at Him, and see perfect patience at all times!! It was living goodness displayed in Him — perfect sinlessness, which I cannot appreciate, but which I may understand, just as, when I am cold, I understand the value of a fire. No selfishness in Him. Take a day, and see how much you are spending upon self! How much thinking about self! How much did Christ think and spend for Himself? Selfishness is easily detected in one another, because of the selfishness within.

This was not God merely telling men what they ought to be, but here was the thing brought before men. He was Light and He was Life, and that in the midst of all the evil amongst men, displayed on earth, not in heaven. They had the living exercise of all this before their eyes, not a story of what God was in His nature; but every day He was displaying the perfectness of God amongst men. He was there in living reality. He ever was and is now love, holiness, etc., but there it was displayed. What wonderful, distinguishing grace this is! He did not take the nature of angels, but "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." He belongs to us as men — suited to us. Now we see where the terrible sin of man comes out. "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not" — "He was in the world, and the world knew him not" — "He came to his own, and his own received him not" — "They saw no beauty in him, that they should desire him." Thus the wickedness of the heart was fully shown — proved to be reprobate. God came in, but there was no sense of His grace or holiness felt. There was no desire to discern or to have God when He comes, for they had lost all moral discernment of good and evil. What bad hearts we have! No person takes pleasure in Christ naturally. Well, amongst such reprobates Christ comes. He comes to call men's attention to the light. They were liking evil, drunkenness, etc., not liking to retain God in their knowledge (Rom. 1); and there was no turning of heart to Christ when He came. This makes it more manifest what grace has done. The question to each is, Have you seen any beauty in Christ? have you any delight in Him?

John's ministry is of no good — it turns to no good. God sends His messengers to tell people of the Light, and to call their attention to the Light. He takes pains, as it were, to rap at people's consciences and tell them Christ is coming. He sends a messenger before His face to prepare His way. Men might say, If the Light is there, it will shine all around, and we shall see it. No! God sends to tell them it is there, but they do not regard it.

Another thing is, when quickened of the Spirit and there is light in the heart, then we can justify wisdom's ways. "Wisdom is justified of her children." John came for a witness to the Light. He was not that Light. Christ is just what is suited to the heart, where grace is working. See Simeon, Anna, the Samaritan woman, the Syrophenoecian woman. The greatest reprobate He is suited for. He is the Light of every one, whatever condition they might be in. He brings out what was — is — in them; and in another sense, besides this, He was the Light, for man being a sinner, he needs forgiveness, and Christ could forgive their sins. If He had come in glory, men would fly away if they could from Him. But when a person is diseased, instead of flying away from the doctor, he will tell him all. So the poor awakened sinner may tell all to Christ.

The world did not know Him. Pilate said, "What is truth?" when He who was "the truth" was standing before him. "His own received him not." The Jews were those who said, "Away with him, away with him."

Verse 12 speaks of some who did receive Him — a little remnant, and "to them gave he power to become the sons of God." They were born of God. When the power of God works in the conscience and heart, it produces life. New, eternal life is given. Christ was not the mere display of life, but "in him was life," and to those who believe Christ is "our life." The word produces faith in the soul. I believe the word, and life is communicated by the Spirit of God. "Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth."

Mark what faith knows Him to be. This is more than the mere manifestation of life. When life is given, the person who is born of God is a son, not a servant but a son. The servant does not abide ever in the house, but the son does. If my servant behaves ill, I can turn him out; but with my son, I may whip him, but do not turn him out. When we are born of God, we are brought into His house as His own, and He makes no mistakes in what He does. What I am as a child depends on what my Father is. He gives power to become the sons of God, that is, to take this place; and we are wrong if we do not own our privilege. He has made us sons, and we ought to take this. We are flying against His grace and truth if we do not take it. We are put into the same place with Christ. He is there as the Son of the Father. We only want eyes open to see Him. The Father is displayed in the Son, and when I see the person of Christ, I am born of God and become a son. The Father's ear was always open to Christ, and it is always open to us. If we ask for foolish things, in His kindness He will not give them us, but there is nothing we ask for that He cannot do, for He has all power in heaven and earth. Many things we may ask for of another who has no ability to give us what we want; but not so with God.

John 1:16. He makes us partakers of His fulness. "Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." If I see what the Son is, I see what the Father is; for Christ was in the bosom of the Father, in the most intimate place in the Father's love. When I believe in His fulness, He brings me into the possession of the same there is in Him. Christ has declared God. "No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." "I go to my Father and your Father." "Ye are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. iii. 26.) It is not presumption, and it is by having the affections centred on Jesus, I realize it.

"There is one among you whom ye know not." I am not worthy to unloose His shoe. This is John's testimony of himself, but he says, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Now He is gone away, but He is still "the same yesterday, today, and for ever." The result of His coming to take away the sin of the world will be that the world, instead of being on the ground of sin before God, will be free from sin, when the new heavens and the new earth come forth, when old things have passed away, etc. To us it applies now in another way. Bad hearts we have still — naughty children continually, but there cannot be the allowance of sin, if the Spirit of God is in us and God has taken away our sin.

God has provided a lamb, a victim for sin — a lamb for our need, but it is God's Lamb for Himself. We have not to find a lamb, but God has found it and set it forth to us. It is not now we having to bring a lamb to God, but He bringing His to us. What grace! Abraham said, God will provide Himself with a lamb for a burnt-offering, and God has provided a lamb.

Then see the perfectness of this victim. It is God Himself has done it, and it is a perfect lamb, taking away sin; so I get a perfect conscience. This Lamb of God, this spotless One, was set up three and a half years before He was taken up to glory. Then there was the perfect satisfaction for my sins by His death, the offering of this perfect One, "the red heifer without spot, and upon which never came yoke." He had neither sin in itself, nor the yoke of sin, but was perfect.

"The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Then God has thought about my sins, and this is the change the knowledge of grace makes, that I am glad for God to know all my sins. Suppose there was one left undiscovered, it might come up against me in the day of judgment; but God knows all, and has known them to put them away.

John 1:30. We find not only the Lamb set forth here, but all through this part we get Christ as a man, anointed of the Father — not only "the Lamb of God," but a man sealed with the power of the Holy Ghost; and this is of great importance, for because of it I not only have my sins put away, but a power that links me with heaven. The Spirit descended and abode upon Him. It was not so with a prophet. The Spirit came upon a prophet, but never abode upon him. In Christ's birth the Holy Ghost acted divinely — that is another thing; but this was the Holy Ghost coining and anointing with power and remaining on Him.

Being quickened, born of God, I have some one to reveal the things of God to me. The new nature could not do that; but I am sealed and anointed of the Holy Ghost and have the earnest of the inheritance. I am sealed till the day of redemption, i.e., glory. The body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit dwells in him, and is power in him to resist his own will, and it is that which will raise him up at the last day. Christ as the Lamb of God that taketh away sin is first known. Then we know Him as the accepted man at the right hand of God, as in the Epistles of Paul.

In this chapter, then, we have, first, the Father's love revealed, as Christ enjoyed it; secondly, Christ is looked at down here as the Lamb of God, etc.; and, thirdly, poor and helpless things that we are, we have the Holy Ghost in us to work in power, and bring forth fruits of the Spirit. And hence now the character of all sin in the believer is, not that he breaks the law, but that he grieves the Spirit.