The Father Revealed in the Son.

Notes of a Bible Reading on John 1:1-18.

What a wonderful revelation there has been in the Person of the Son of God! Our Scripture brings before us the greatness of Him in whom God has been fully revealed in His nature of love, and the unfoldings of the thoughts and will of God. God, who of old, was hid within the thick darkness, has come out in the Person of the Son, so that we might know Him, and know the counsels of His love for the blessing of men. So full and perfect is this divine revelation in Jesus that He could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Before the eyes of men, in the Person of the Son, the Father is seen in the fulness of His grace. The great works that He wrought were received from the Father, and He could say, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The words too that the Son spake brought to light the great secrets of the heart of God.

God was not revealed amidst the thunderings and the lightnings of Mount Sinai. So terrible was that sight that even Moses quaked in the presence of Jehovah. What was seen and heard at that time could never have given us the true knowledge of God. It was only when the Son came into the world that God was seen in His nature as a God of love; and because of what came out in the Son it could be written "God is light," and "God is love." God's disposition to men in grace is in marked contrast to what is found in the law, and reveals what God truly is.

In the opening verses of this Gospel we see the greatness of the Person of Christ. We are brought to the very precincts of eternity in the first verse, where we read, "In the beginning was the Word." The Word existed as such before there was a beginning of anything that the human mind can conceive. It is the divine way of telling us that the Word is eternal in His being. The meaning of the "Word" is not difficult to apprehend, for we all know that it is by words that we express the thoughts and feelings of our hearts and minds. This divine "Word" is the One who fully expresses all God's thoughts, whether in creation or in grace; the whole mind, heart, will and counsel of God is set forth in the Eternal Word.

The second phrase, "The Word was with God," reveals that the Word is distinct in Person, and involves the truth of the Trinity, which comes fully to light in Jesus. There is no such idea as His having a separate existence, for the unity of the Godhead is constantly affirmed along with the distinct personality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

To fully safeguard the divine glory of the Son, the Spirit of God adds, "The Word was God." If the Son has become Man, God has taken care to secure His glory in His word, lest occasion should be taken of His condescension to deny His glory. And how often has this very Scripture been used to assert the Deity of the Son when men have denied it. Fulness of Godhead is here claimed for Jesus by the Holy Spirit; although distinct in Person from the Father and the Spirit, the Word was God.

There is no repetition when we read, "He was in the beginning with God," for the Spirit of God well knew the thoughts of evil men. Some have asserted that Jesus became a distinct Person, but Scripture asserts that He was eternally distinct in Personality. A subtle foe is constantly endeavouring to assail the Person of the Son of God, but the Spirit of God, in this Scripture, met the errors that were rampant in the day when this was written, and the many errors of our day.

"The Word" is not a title; it is a Name that belongs to the Son of God. A name expresses something of the Person, what He is and who He is, whereas His titles present Him in relation to the offices He fills, and the work He does. Sometimes a title is used as a name: the Christ is an example, for Scripture often speaks of Him as Jesus Christ, and again in Revelation 19:16 we read, "And He has upon His garment, and upon His thigh, a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords."

Not only is the Word spoken of as God, but He is also the creator. In Hebrews 1, the Son creates the worlds, and in Colossians 1, the Son of the Father's love creates all the things in the heavens and upon the earth; here, the Word gives being to all the vast universe, and all that is in it; "Without Him, not one thing received being which has received being." The physical universe is specially in mind in the creation of Hebrews 1 in Colossians 1, it is the realm of universal government and authority: here, in John 1, it is comprehensive, but life, which is a great subject with John, seems to have a special place in the writer's mind. This is confirmed in the next verse, where John speaks of life.

If the Word is the originator of all the life found in the universe, we can readily understand that when it is written "In Him was life," the Spirit of God would have us to know that as a Divine Person the Son possessed life inherently. All life has come from Him as its source; yet, in chapter 5, we learn that having come into Manhood, the Son, who had life in Himself essentially, receives this from the Father: "For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself" (John 5:26).

Coming into the world, the life that was in the Son of God shone for the blessing of men. The life that was in the Son brought to men the revelation of God, that men might walk in the light of the knowledge of God that was found in Jesus. Such was the nature of man, under the influence of Satan and under the power of sin, that the revelation of God was not apprehended by those who saw Jesus. The presence of the Son of God therefore brought to light the awful state of man away from God. Men may boast of all their learning, but before God their light is darkness. The only true knowledge for men is the knowledge of God; all other knowledge will avail them nothing, and will ultimately perish; without the knowledge of God they are in moral and spiritual darkness.

The witness of John the Baptist, which occupies a large portion of this chapter, is introduced in John 1:6. He is a man sent from God, and comes to bear witness to Jesus. The Lord later speaks of John as "The burning and shining lamp" (John 5:35); Jesus was "The True Light . . . which, coming into the world, is light to every man." The bearing of this light is universal: it is not only the once favoured nation of Israel that is in view, but all the world: the Light has come into the world with the blessing of all in view. Every man can avail himself of the wonderful revelation of God in the Person of the Son. None can say, "This revelation is not for me."

Yet, how solemn, that although the Son had come into the world He had created, the men of the world did not know Him. Such is the world's darkness; its ignorance of God and of His Son. And highly favoured Israel is no better, but is the more guilty on account of its privileged position in relation to God. The Son of God had claims on Israel; its throne was His by right and title; but when He came His claim was rejected, for they did not receive Him, yea, they cast Him out, saying, "This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours."

If the nation of Israel did not receive Him, there were some who did receive Him, not only from among Israel, but also from among the Samaritans. Now that the testimony has sounded through the world, this favoured circle includes many from among the Gentiles. But when the Son was here on earth, there were those prepared of God to receive Him. These He gave the right to take their place as the children of God.

From the righteous Abel, there had been children of God in this world, those who were born of God; but before the coming of the Son, none had known the blessedness of the privileges that belonged to the children of God. All is altered with His coming; now the children of God can take their true place before God in the consciousness of the joys that belong to the relationship that the divine nature gives them. Moreover, the death of the Lord Jesus would "gather together into one the children of God who were scattered abroad" (John 11:52).

Faith in the Name of the Son of God, in whom the Father was revealed, brought the children of God into the knowledge of the relationship that God had given them. But this relationship is "not of blood." Israel had a relationship with God because of their descent from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: the relationship of children of God is on another line, for the link is spiritual. Nor is it of "the will of the flesh," for in nature we were far from God, without any desire after Him or His things. Man's will has no part whatever in bringing us into this new relationship: we did not seek it; it is the result of the sovereign action of God in grace, the work of His Spirit through the word.

Then we have the momentous statement, "And the Word became flesh." It was not simply a manifestation of God in flesh, but the Eternal Word becoming Man, so that we have in one Person Him who is very God yet perfect Man. He took the very nature of Man, but apart from sin, being born of the Virgin. All that was proper to man was found in perfection in the Son, all the thoughts, desires, feelings and affections: and He entered into the conditions and circumstances of life that belonged to man, and in them shed abroad the light of divine grace, and the light of His moral glory.

God was here in the Person of the Son: the Father was here in testimony, the Spirit in power, and the Son in Person. Dwelling among men, He was full of grace and truth. How great was the contrast with Sinai when the law was given! God came down, not in grace, but as a lawgiver. Yet, before, near the spot where the law was given, God had indicated in the burning bush what He would do. Our God, who is a consuming fire, came into the midst of the dry, withered bush of humanity, and the marvel was that the bush was not consumed. So it was with man in the presence of the Son: God was here, yet man was not consumed, for He was "full of grace and truth."

What a privilege it was for the disciples to contemplate the glory of the Word become flesh, "To see the Godhead glory shine through that human veil"; and to learn something of the relationship in which the Son was in Manhood to His Father. No one could know the Son in His divine relationship with the Father, yet the disciples could discern that this blessed Person, in His pathway here, was in a unique and heavenly relationship with God.

But there was more: there was the announcement of the eternal relationship in which the Son stood, He was "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father" (John 1:18). No one has seen God at any time. Abraham had spoken with God, and Moses had seen the glory of God, viewing His backparts while hidden in the cleft of the rock; but God all the while was not known as He now is in the light of the revelation of Himself in Jesus. Yet there was One who knew Him. and who nestled in His bosom, His well-beloved Son. The Father's bosom is the eternal dwelling place of the Son, even as He says later, "Father . . . . Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).

Knowing the affections of the Father's bosom, and the deep secrets of His heart, He could reveal Him, and came forth from the Father that He might make Him known. There has been the full declaration of God's nature and thoughts in Jesus; and now we stand in the blaze of the light in which God is fully known. Philip, later, said to the Lord, "Show us the Father, and it suffices us." He seemed to say, "If we can only see the Father, there would be nothing more to show us." And so it is. There is nothing more for us to learn of the Father than what is to be found in the Son, so that Jesus could say, "Am I so long a time with you, and thou hast not known me Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, 'Show us the Father'" (John 14:9, 10).