John 1:16

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Some would argue, and with good reason, that the climax of John’s Prologue is verse fourteen, what we read two verses ago. It is, after all, an incredibly succinct summary of the whole point of Jesus’ mission and ministry and an explanation of the Incarnation: that the Word that from the beginning has been with God and is God took on our flesh in order to share our lot and our life. Yes, that’s a huge verse. But as for climax, I’m betting on this one.


Because John isn’t just reporting news – that is, offering a historical (or mythic, for that matter) description of God’s work in Jesus. He’s sharing good news, and good news is always about not something happening in general, but something good happening to us and for us.

And that’s what this verse is about. In the coming of the Word, we receive grace upon grace. Not just grace, mind you, but grace upon grace.

And what is grace, we might ask. Kindness, joy, delight, favor…that is as unexpected as it is unmerited. Grace is always free – no strings attached – always given without expectation of some return, always based on nothing but the sheer favor and excitement and character of the giver, and almost always comes as a surprise.

And so the Word comes into our world, endures being rejected by those who should know him, and takes on our flesh all so that we might be showered with not just a moment of grace, but a lifetime, more grace than we can imagine or really even receive.

That word, grace, is not mentioned again in the Fourth Gospel. No one knows exactly why, but I suspect it doesn’t matter. Right here, right now, we have the promise that Jesus comes to draw us into a universe of grace. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Dear God, remind us again and again that you have drawn us into the world of grace that we may turn and offer that same grace to each other in our words and deeds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.