And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – John 1:14-18
Biblical Christianity is unique among religions because of its trajectory of grace. Every other religion, and many perversions of the gospel of grace, postulate a relationship with God that is determined by human effort to please God. God initiates the religion of Jesus Christ and it is due to God’s efforts that Jesus has made the Father known. The positive relationship between God and man is due to God’s efforts, not man’s.
Early on in human history when God was making himself known to Moses he revealed his name, that is he gave definition to his name, who he is in Exodus 34:6-7
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
The central characteristic of God’s revelation of himself to Moses was “steadfast love and faithfulness.” This same characteristic is revealed in Jesus as being full of “grace and truth.” These are parallel statements. I understand that the Hebrew translation of the Greek New Testament in use in Israel today translates the Greek word for grace with the Hebrew word HESED, which is translated “steadfast love” in Exodus 34 above. So, the HESED of the Old Testament is the CHARIS (grace) of the New Testament. The same kind of parallel applies to the other terms, faithfulness, and truth.
Twice in this paragraph, it is stated that Jesus brings “grace and truth.” He is revealing in a more clear way the same truth he revealed to Moses on the mountain. Jesus, however, made the Father known in a much more profound way. He became flesh and lived among us for approximately 33 years. We were able to observe him and see God’s character, love, and power in person.
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. – John 14:9
When people claim that all religions are the same and there is no real difference between Christianity and other religions, talk about grace. Talk about the gospel trajectory from God to us rather than us to God. Talk about how Jesus revealed the Father and is full of grace and truth. The same Old Testament God who revealed himself to Moses as “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” is the same God who came to us “full of grace and truth.” No one else can claim this.
We get to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures.