“From His Fullness We Have All Received Grace Upon Grace”

A Christmas Meditation on John 1:14-16

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Just before the first service at the north campus last Sunday, the little band of praying saints was hard at work fighting for the faith of our people and for the churches of the Twin Cities and for the nations as they prayed. At one point Jim Tomaszewski prayed the words of John 1:14-16:

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. . . . And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

It was one of those epiphany moments for me. God granted in that moment that the word “fullness”—from his fullness—carry a fullness that was extraordinary in its effect on me. There was a kind of Holy Spirit drenching. I felt some measure of what the word really carries—the fullness of Christ. I felt some of the wonder that, yes, I had indeed received grace upon grace from this fullness. And I was at that moment receiving grace upon grace. I felt right then that nothing would have been sweeter than to simply sit at his feet—or read my Bible—all afternoon and feel his fullness overflow.

Why did this fullness have such an impact on me—and why is it still to this moment affecting me unusually? In part because...

  • ...the one from whose fullness I am being drenched with grace is the Word that was with God and was God (John 1:1-2), so that his fullness is the fullness of God—a divine fullness, an infinite fullness;
  • ...this Word became flesh and so was one of us and was pursuing us with his fullness—it is an accessible fullness;
  • ...when this Word appeared in human form, his glory was seen—his is a glorious fullness;
  • ...this Word was “the only Son from the Father” so that the divine fullness was being mediated to me not just from God, but through God—God did not send an angel but his only Son to deliver his fullness;
  • ...the fullness of the Son is a fullness of grace—I will not drown in this fullness but be blessed in every way by this fullness;
  • ...this fullness is not only a fullness of grace but of truth—I am not being graced with truth-ignoring flattery; this grace is rooted in rock-solid reality.

As I savor this illumination of Christ’s fullness, I hear Paul say, “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). I hear him say, “In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). And I hear him say, “In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

Paul prays that we would experience Christ’s fullness. Not just know about it, but be filled with it. Here is the way I hear him praying for me:

That I “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

The “fullness of God” is experienced, he says, as we are given the “strength to comprehend” the love of Christ in its height and depth and length and breadth—that is, in its fullness. This is remarkable: The fullness of God is the spiritual apprehension (experience) of the fullness of the love of Christ. This love is the grace and truth that fills the Son of God and pours out on us.

So when I hear Paul speak to the Romans of “the fullness of the blessing of Christ” (Romans 15:29), I know how he is describing my experience. How I long for you all to know this. Give yourself time and quietness in these final days of 2007 and seek this experience. Pray for yourself the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14-19—“that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”—that you may have power “to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

That is my prayer for you this Christmas—that you would experience the fullness of Christ . . . that you would know in your heart of hearts the outpouring of grace upon grace . . . that the glory of the only Son from the Father would shine into your hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ . . . that you would be amazed that Christ can be so real to you.

In that overflowing sense, Merry Christmas,

Pastor John