John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:15-17
John the Baptist’s testimony concerning Jesus was directed at the Jews. Hence, in that context he compared the ministry of Moses and that of Jesus’. John, in saying, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” made it very clear that the revelation of Jesus was greater than any man including Moses and himself. John’s ministry prepared the people to receive Jesus’ ministry of grace and truth. For the Law asserted control over the human behavior but had no power over the bondage of the sinful nature. However, the ministry of Jesus transformed the heart by breaking the bondages of sin through the indwelling Spirit.
“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
As we have seen in our previous article, Jesus expressed the truth and grace of the Father through His life. Truth provides direction and wisdom towards a prosperous life. Grace frees man from his bondages and empowers him to live life according to the truth. In the above passage, the author gave a comparison between the Law that came from Moses and the grace and truth of Jesus. Let us first look at the Law of Moses.
1. The Law of Moses refers to the scriptures that was given to Moses 1400 years before Jesus came. It provided wisdom, standards and boundaries (commandments) for the Jewish society of that time. However, the Law with its promise of blessings had no power over the bondages of sin. The bondage of sin is like a cancer, crippling the body and incapacitating from doing what he wants.
2. What is the grace and truth of Jesus? To put it simply, the grace that comes from the Spirit of Christ regenerates man’s heart empowering him to walk in the truth. The grace of the Spirit breaks the bondage of sin over the believer enabling him to live in the truth.
What is the key difference between the Law of Moses and grace and truth of Jesus? The Law is a system of right and wrong but it has no life in itself. Unlike the Law, grace and truth is more than a system; it is a Person. The Holy Spirit is also called “the Spirit of grace” and “the Spirit of truth” (Hebrews 10:29, John 14:17). The Law by itself cannot empower man to live according to it. However, grace and truth is the Spirit of Christ who lives inside man regenerating and empowering him to live a heavenly life.
The Law is not without purpose for it sets the foundation for the ministry of truth and grace. The Law gives meaning and direction to the ministry of Jesus.
1. The Spirit empowers us through grace to live according to the truth. The inner workings of the Spirit are entirely different from that of the time of Moses’ Law. During the time of Moses, the people depended solely on their own moral determination to obey the Law. Today, the Spirit of grace and truth is present within believers to help us live in the truth. The key difference is the source of our dependence. No longer do believers depend solely on their moral determination, but on the Spirit of love that dwells within. Romans 5:5 says, in times of difficulty, God’s love is poured out within our hearts through the Spirit giving us the power to persevere. However, believers still need to read the Word and to exercise their moral determination by yielding to the Spirit of grace and truth.
2. The evidence of a person living under the grace and truth of the Spirit is a transformed life. Such a person is willing to forgive those who have sinned against him. He no longer lives according to his own plans but for the will of God. He is at peace even during challenging times fully assured that God will deliver. He derives pleasure not from fleshly desires, but from the joy of doing God’s will. He is motivated by love for the benefit of others and spends his time doing good works. And He desires to experience more of the things of God and to encounter Him.
We must depend on the Spirit every moment of the day. Grace and truth is in operation the moment we think of God and draw near to Him. When we read the bible, the Spirit starts to fill our heart with His wisdom, He sooths our souls with His peace and strengthens our body with His power. Whenever we connect with His Spirit through the Word and through our thoughts, things start to get better. The Jewish people disciplined themselves in regurgitating the commandments of the Law that was intended to strengthen moral determination. Grace and truth on the other hand, draws us closer to God through the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Lord, I thank you for loving me and blessing me with such riches, peace and joy. Remind me to continue to live in Your grace and to walk according to the truth. Use me to speak truth and impart grace into the lives of others. I ask the Spirit to reveal to me the mind of God and the passion of Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.