The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
At first glance, it may seem that John doesn’t think too much of Moses and the law. After all, it feels like he’s setting up a comparison that Moses will definitely not win.
But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Law, for John and the early church, is vital. It helpfully orders our world. It reveals God’s intent that we all get as much as possible from life. And it orients us to care for each other and see each other as collaborators rather than competitors.
Hence, John’s acknowledgment that the law indeed came from Moses. This great gift and treasure came, indeed, from Moses, one of the lead characters in the story John not only knows well but is retelling.
But as important as the law is, it ultimately insufficient. It orders life, but can’t give it. It reveals God’s loving intentions for us, but doesn’t draw us any closer to God’s presence. It invites us to care for each other, but cannot forgive us when we don’t.
For all these things, only the good news (gospel) of God’s grace suffices. While the law reveals the truth of our life in this world, the gospel reveals the new truth that God is not content to remain at a distance urging us on, but rather gets involved, comes into our world, takes on our lot and life, in order that we might have not just life, but life in all its abundance.
The law, indeed, came through Moses – thanks be to God. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ – thanks be to God again and unceasingly.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for both your law and gospel. One leads us to a better life, and the other grants new life for us and all your people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.