Abundant and ongoing grace is lavished upon us from the fullness of Jesus as he brings the Father’s love into the world. No one has seen the Father, and yet Jesus is the very image and essence of Father God in our world. And he extends grace upon grace to us…
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 is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
It is interesting to understand that the grace of Jesus is in place of grace already given. And directly after making that statement John shares that the law was given through Moses, while grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
In our one-dimensional view of God, in which we hope to keep him in a box, we label the God of Moses as the Law God. The God of wrath reigns in our understanding of the Old Testament. We assume there is no grace there until the God of the New Testament is revealed.
John corrects our misguided notions of God and grace and wrath.
He starts his book by ensuring we know that Jesus is God and was present and actively engaged throughout history. Jesus is not the God born at the incarnation. Jesus is the God who is the firstborn over all creation. In other words, he is the pre-eminent one over all creation. The use of ‘firstborn’ in Paul’s letter to the Colossians is a statement of Christ having first place over all, and it is because he created and sustains all (which John and Paul both affirm).
The grace of Jesus was added on top of the grace we had already received up to the point of the incarnation. Even in the Law of Moses there is grace. In fact, the whole sacrificial system is a system of grace. The people of Israel were saved by God through sacrifices made according to God’s purpose and plan.
The unblemished lamb of Passover, instituted when God saved Israel from the Egyptians, points us to Jesus, whom John the Baptist heralds as ‘the Lamb of God.’ Jesus fulfills all of this, adding grace on top of grace.
And Jesus does this as the one who makes the Father known on earth. Jesus is His image. Jesus is the only one in whom we can see the Father. And so if we seek God, we must seek God through the one who holds the closest relationship with him of all – our Lord and Saviour Jesus.