John 1:14-28

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 16, 2009


The Gospel of John was written by an uneducated Jewish fisherman who had become one of the apostles Jesus Christ.

He never refers to himself by name in this gospel.  When you see the name “John”, it will be talking about John the Baptist.  John only refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.

Why did John write his gospel?

1. He’s going to clear a few things up.

It’s been a good 20-30 years since the other gospels were written.  John has the advantage of time.  He’s going to fill in some of the blanks left by the other gospels.

2. He’s going to correct the Gnostic heresies.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, Gnosticism was just beginning to creep into the church.  When John writes his gospel, Gnosticism has matured as a full blown heresy.
Today, the heresy of Gnosticism has once again raised its ugly head.  Whether it’s in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or a university classroom, people are hearing about the “secret” (and destructive) writings Gnostics.

3.  He wants people to believe.

(John 20:30-31 NKJV)  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; {31} but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John wants his readers to understand just who Jesus is.
John wants his readers to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.

:14-18  The Word becomes flesh

:14 And the Word became flesh

flesh – sarx – flesh

John has already introduced us to this individual called “The Word”.  We’ve seen that John has clearly given this individual the status of being divine:

(John 1:1 NKJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

One of the main beliefs of Gnosticism is that all “spirit” is good and all that is “material” is evil.

This is why they do not believe that a good God could create a physical, material world.  They believe it must have been a lesser God who created the world.

Here John lays down the gauntlet with the Gnostics.  Jesus is God.  He’s “the Word”.  And He became flesh.

(1 John 4:2-3 NKJV)  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, {3} and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

:14 and dwelt among us,

dweltskenoo to fix one’s tabernacle, have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle; to dwell

You might say that the Word “pitched His tent” among us.

There has been a big stink in the news about the upcoming visit of Libya’s leader Colonel Gaddafi visiting the US and wanting to pitch a tent in New Jersey.  They don’t want him in New Jersey.

The Old Testament Tabernacle was a symbol of God’s presence in the middle of the camp of Israel.

Here the idea is that He took on a body.  The Bible talks about our bodies as “tents” that we live in. (2Cor. 5:1)

(2 Cor 5:1 NKJV)  For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

:14 and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Paul records that He emptied Himself (Phil. 2:7), that He veiled His glory, in a sense covering it over with human flesh.  But there was a time when Jesus allowed His glory to peek out.

As a part of the group that was closest to Jesus, John was one of the few that had actually seen Jesus’ glory.

(Mat 17:1-9 NKJV)  Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; {2} and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. {3} And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. {4} Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." {5} While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" {6} And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. {7} But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." {8} When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. {9} Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."

Jesus was no ordinary human.  He was God in human flesh.

Peter also talks about this experience as well when he said they were …

(2 Pet 1:16-18 NKJV)  …eyewitnesses of His majesty. {17} For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." {18} And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

:14 full of grace and truth.

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness; unmerited favor

The root idea of charis is that of a gift.  It’s a gift that is undeserved.  It’s a gift that’s freely given.  It’s a gift that’s unconditional.

We say that we are “saved by grace”.

Our being saved from the consequences of our sin does not come because we have cleaned up our lives, or that we have somehow deserved God saving us.
We are saved simply because God saw our great need and sent His Son to pay for our sin.
This is grace.

truthaletheia – the opposite of lanthano – to be hidden.

Truth is what is not hidden.  It’s reality.  It’s the truth about who God is.

:15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"

This is John the Baptist speaking, not John the writer and apostle.

John the Baptist described Jesus as one who was going to come after John in time:

Luke records the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.  It appears that John the Baptist was about six months older than Jesus. 

John also began his ministry out in the wilderness preaching and baptizing people before Jesus began His public ministry.

Even though Jesus came after John, Jesus would stand in front of John if we put them together and ranked them.

Even though Jesus was physically born after John, Jesus had always existed from eternity.  Jesus was the Word.

(John 1:1 NKJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Phillips’ translation puts it together like this:

(Joh 1:15 Phillips) And it was about him that John stood up and testified, exclaiming: "’Here is the one I was speaking about when I said that although he would come after me he would always be in front of me; for he existed before I was born!"

:16 And of His fullness we have all received,

fullnesspleroma – fullness, abundance

In our study of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we saw that this word was one of those code words of Gnosticism a word used to describe God.

The pleroma described all of who God was. It described a region of “light” that was different from our material universe.
The Gnostics called this God “The One”, or “The Monad”, “The Complete Aeon”, “The Deep”, or “the Light”.
The Gnostics taught that the “fullness” was so perfect that it could have nothing to do with this evil material world.
Paul used this word in:
(Col 1:19 NKJV) For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

John turns the Gnostic idea of the pleroma on its head.

Jesus as the eternal Word actually took on physical, human flesh.
And He has shared His fullness with us.

I think that part of this may involve the work of the Holy Spirit.

(John 14:16-17 NKJV)  "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; {17} "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
John was there on the Day of Pentecost when the believers were first filled with the Holy Spirit and tasted God’s fullness. (Acts 2:1-4)
(Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

:16 and grace for grace.

foranti – for, instead of, in place of

The idea is exchanging one thing for another, one thing taking the place of another.

God has given us grace.  Each day God offers to come and take the leftover grace and gives us more grace.

It’s kind of like the manna in the wilderness. 

Everyday God fed the people with this strange bread from heaven. 
They didn’t do anything to earn the manna.  They didn’t pay for it.  It was free, everyday.
They simply needed to get up in the morning, and get it.

God offers us an unending supply of grace.

Grace doesn’t end the day that you open your heart to Jesus Christ and find forgiveness for all your sins.
Grace continues on and on in life.
God continues to give us so much that we don’t deserve.

Paul had something called a “thorn in the flesh”.  We don’t know exactly what it was, but that it was something that Paul didn’t like.  Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 12:8-10 NKJV)  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. {9} And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. {10} Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul learned to live with his “thorn in the flesh”.  He found he could do this because of God’s grace, grace received daily.  All of God’s continual grace was enough for Paul to survive.


Receiving all of God’s grace

I wonder sometimes if we really grasp what God has done for us and what He wants to continue to do.
There was a couple who wanted to immigrate to America. They were poor, but they managed to scrimp and save, and finally buy their tickets on an ocean liner from England to America. They could only afford the cheapest tickets. They packed their clothes, and brought along what they thought would be enough food to last the trip. They brought some bread and cheese to eat. The first couple of days the bread and cheese were great, but as the days went by, the bread went stale, and the cheese was getting awfully old. During the trip, they often walked out on the decks, and would walk by the dining room, looking at all the delicious food piled high on the tables. Finally, they ran out of food. They were still several days from America, and they began to panic. One day they finally got up the nerve and asked the steward if there was any way they could have some food, they would even work to pay for it. The steward looked at them with surprise, "Didn't you know that all the food on the ship is free?  It came with the price of your ticket!"
John said
(John 1:16 NKJV)  And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
Don’t settle for stale crackers.  Fresh grace is available every day.Come and trade in yesterday’s grace for today’s grace.
(Lam 3:23 NKJV)  …They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Just in case you haven’t picked up who the main subject of John’s gospel is, he clarifies it now.  He is talking about Jesus who is the Christ.

In vs. 1, John introduced us to the eternal “Word”.

In vs. 14, John told us that the “Word” took on flesh and was full of grace and truth.

Now John tells us that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

What a contrast between Moses and Jesus.

The law is a wonderful thing.  It shows us what God is like and what He requires of us. But in the law of we only find condemnation.

Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the law and to freely, graciously offer us the forgiveness of God.

:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

No human being has seen God the Father face to face, and lived to tell about it.

Even Moses, though Ex. 33:11 makes is sound like God spoke to Moses face to face, in reality, the closest Moses ever got was a glimpse at God’s back side. (Ex. 33:23)

(Exo 33:20-23 NKJV)  But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." {21} And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. {22} "So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. {23} "Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."

Others, like Isaiah, would see a vision of God.  But no living human being on earth has ever seen God face to face … and lived.

declaredexegeomai – to lead out; to draw out in narrative, unfold a teaching

We get the word “exegesis” from this word.  Exegesis is what we’re doing now, looking at the text, examining the words, and drawing out the lessons from the verses.

(John 1:18 NIV)  …has made him known.
(John 1:18 NLT)  …he has told us about him.
(John 1:18 NASB)  …He has explained Him.

If you want to know who God is, all you have to do is look at Jesus.

(John 14:9 NKJV)  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
If you are a person who is looking to learn about God, look no further than Jesus.

:19-28 John identifies himself

:19  Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

This is John the Baptist.  Keep in mind, John kind of looked like a wild, crazy man.

(Mat 3:4 NKJV)  And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

It is currently being suggested by the archaeologists that John the Baptist came out of the community of that lived in Qumran near the Dead Sea.

Play Qumran clip

The people that lived at Qumran called themselves the “Yachad”, the Hebrew word for “One”, speaking of their community with each other and with God.  They sought to live lives of holiness.  They spent much time studying and copying the Scriptures.  It was their copies of the Scriptures that survived the Roman army, discovered in 1947, and known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls”.

One of the things these people practiced was the ritual bath, the Jewish “miqvah”.  When John baptizes people, the concept was not a foreign one.

:20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."

:21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."

The religious leaders from Jerusalem wanted to know who this guy was that was baptizing people out at the Jordan River.

There was a sense in John’s day that there were certain individuals that were prophesied to come and help Israel.

the Christ – the “Anointed One”, thought to be both king and priest (both were anointed with oil).  He would deliver Israel from her enemies.  This was Jesus.

(Dan 9:25 NKJV)  "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
By the way … this prophecy was actually fulfilled to the very day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Elijah – Elijah didn’t die.  He was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire.  Malachi said that Elijah would be coming back. (Mal. 4:5-6)

(Mal 4:5-6 NKJV)  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. {6} And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
Luke tells us that even though John was not Elijah himself, that John came in the “spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).  We believe that Elijah himself is still going to come, perhaps as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.

the Prophet – Moses said there would be another prophet similar to him (Deut. 18:15)

(Deu 18:15 NKJV)  "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,
We see this individual as having been fulfilled in Jesus as well.

John is clear in letting these religious leaders know that he is not claiming to be any of these individuals.

:22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"

:23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said."

Even though John was not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet, he knew that there was a scripture that talked about him.  Those of you who know classical music will recognize some of these words from Handel’s “Messiah”.

(Isa 40:3-5 NKJV)  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. {4} Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth;

In ancient days, when a king was going to go out and visit various parts of his kingdom, an advance team was sent ahead to repair the roads and make things smoother for the king’s entourage.
This “voice” would be preparing the people’s hearts for God, for the LORD.
John didn’t fill in the potholes in the road, but in people’s hearts.  He told people to get their hearts right.  His message was “Repent”.

{5} The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Note:  Isaiah said the “glory of the LORD shall be revealed” – we’ve already read as the apostle John told us that they did indeed behold His glory (John 1:14).


Find your purpose

God has plans for your life.  His plans have design and purpose. And like John, God has a scripture for you as well.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In attempting to recruit John Sculley, the 38-year-old President of Pepsi-Cola, Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer, issued a tremendous challenge to Sculley.  He asked: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

-- Odyssey, John Sculley, p.90

God created you and knows just what you're capable of:
In the early days of the automobile a man’s Model-T Ford stalled in the middle of the road.  He couldn’t get it started no matter how hard he cranked nor how much he tried to advance the spark or adjust things under the hood.  Just then a chauffeured limousine pulled up behind him, and a wiry, energetic man stepped out from the back seat and offered his assistance.  After tinkering for a few moments the stranger said, “Now try it!”  Immediately the engine leaped to life. The well-dressed individual then identified himself as Henry Ford.  “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “so I know what to do when something goes wrong.”
Give God a chance to guide your life.  Give Him a chance to take all of who you are, all you have experienced, all that you have passion for, and use it for His purposes.
There is nothing more important in life than discovering what you’ve been made for.
Eric Liddell was the Scotsman portrayed in the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire”.  He was a Christian.  He was raised on the mission field, a child in a missionary family in China.  He had a call from God to serve on the mission field, but he was also an athlete.  He explains this sense of purpose to his sister Jenny …
Play clip from Chariots of Fire.
After the Olympics, he would move on to the other passion of his life – missions.  He served in China from 1925 until his death in a Japanese internment camp in 1945.
He had a purpose in life.  He lived for God’s glory and honor.

:24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.

Judaism in Jesus’ day was divided into various sects, almost like denominations today.  The Pharisees were the group that held to the most strictest interpretation of the Scriptures.  There were about 6,000 Pharisees in Jesus’ day.  They were orthodox, fundamentalist, and legalistic.

:25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

The Pharisees want to have a reason for everything.  They want to know why John was baptizing if he had no special authority.

There were various reasons why a person would be fully immersed in water, in a “miqvah”, such as when a person came in contact with a dead body. After sexual intercourse or after a woman’s menstrual period, a miqvah was required.  But in most cases a person was to simply wash themselves.

One type of miqvah in which someone was immersed by another was when a Gentile wanted to convert to Judaism.  But John wasn’t baptizing Gentiles, he was baptizing Jews.  To the Pharisees it was offensive that John was thinking they had something to repent of.

John’s message was:

(Mat 3:2 NKJV)  …"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

The response of the crowds that followed John was:

(Mat 3:6 NKJV)  and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

:26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.

:27 "It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."

John is saying that his authority to baptize simply comes from the one He is getting the world ready for.  John is nothing special, he is only trying to point to the One that is going to come.

:28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Bethabara – some of your Bibles say “Bethany” here.

We believe that John’s baptisms took place at the fords on the Jordan River, near Jericho and near where the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea.  This spot is only about 8 miles from the Qumran community.

Here are some pictures of the area of Bethany.  Various groups claim that their site is where Jesus was baptized.  There are sites on the Jordanian side of the river and sites on the Israeli side of the river.  When we went to Israel last year, we did a baptism up in the northern end of the Jordan, just south of the Sea of Galilee.

:27 sandal strap

The rule of the day was this:  If you were a disciple of an individual, you would do whatever they asked, to a limit.  The limit was the feet.  Disciples don’t do feet.  They don’t untie a master’s shoes.  A servant on the other hand had no such limits.  A servant might be asked to untie your shoes, even wash your feet.

John said he was not even worthy to be a servant of Jesus Christ.



There are not too many better examples of humility than John the Baptist.
Keep in mind, Jesus considered John to be a great man:
(Mat 11:11 NKJV)  "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist…
Later, there would be a little competition going between John’s disciples and Jesus’ disciples.  The controversy was over who had the most people following them.
(John 3:26-30 NKJV)  And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified; behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" {27} John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. {28} "You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' {29} "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. {30} "He must increase, but I must decrease.

John knew that his purpose was to point people to Jesus.  He didn’t care if his ministry was declining because Jesus’ ministry was increasing.

What if you are serving God, but someone else is getting blessed or more noticed more than you?


Pierre Salinger was President John F. Kennedy's press secretary. Salinger enjoyed telling the story of a conversation he had with the president on one of their many plane rides together. Traveling on Air Force One, severe turbulence shook the plane, and Salinger briefly feared they might crash. When the aircraft righted itself, Salinger asked the president if he could imagine what the news story would have been if the plane had gone down. "I can, Pierre," said Kennedy. "You would have been on all the front pages. But in very small type."

The Times (10-20-04); submitted by Owen Bourgaize, Castel, Guernsey, United Kingdom

Are you okay if you’re only in the “small type”?  After all, isn’t it Jesus we want people to notice?