John 1:17 "The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"
His Hebrew name is ‘Yeshua’, from which we get the English name ‘Joshua’. All four names are all the same, pronounced differently depending on the language. Here in verse 17 of the first chapter of John’s gospel, he suddenly reveals to the secular Greek culture surrounding him that the Word he had been explaining in the first sixteen verses, who had taken on human form in verse 14, actually has a name – Yeshua, our Jesus Christ.
This is a radical and inflammatory claim to make in a culture dominated by Greek philosophy. The Greeks at the time would have been tracking with him up until verse 14, because the ‘Word’ he was claiming as the Creator of the Universe was the Greek word ‘Logos’, which the Greeks understood as the ‘World-Soul’ or the creative energy of the universe. Kind of like George Lucas’s Star Wars (‘May the Force be with you’). But when John shifts from the ‘Word’ taking on flesh and bones, and then this ‘Word’ being the local boy from Nazareth, the son of the carpenter whom they just crucified and who just rose from the dead, it turned the world upside down.
Now, in verse 17, John makes his appeal directly to the surrounding Jews. He declares that while God gave us the Law through His servant Moses, God did not reveal His grace and truth through Moses. The grace of God, and the truth of who God is, didn’t come through Vishnu or Buddha or Ba’al either. God’s grace and truth comes when the Word becomes flesh in the Person of Yeshua, also called Joshua, also known as Jesus Christ.
Why does John contrast Moses to Jesus Christ in verse 17? Remember In Deuteronomy 32:51-52, God tells Moses he will not lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, because Moses sinned against Him: “…because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel, yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel.” So who does God replace Moses with, to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land? Joshua.
John is tying together Old Testament history with New Testament reality, to reveal God’s plan from eternity for His only means by which any of us can be certain we can be in Heaven with Him. Notice first in John 1:17 that Moses represents God’s Law. We know that the purpose of the Law is not to save me from my sin, but instead to show me what God says is sin, and bring His condemnation (Romans 3:19-20). What is interesting in Deuteronomy 32:51-52 is that Moses, who represents the Law that condemns me, cannot lead me into the Promised Land, which is an Old Testament illustration for heaven.
So while God does not allow Moses (the Law) to be the answer for how someone can enter into heaven, He provides the answer in Joshua, who does lead them into the Promised Land. Do you see the amazing parallel yet between John 1:17 and the Old Testament Joshua? The name of Joshua is the Hebrew name “Savior”, which is the Greek equivalent of Jesus. God is explaining to the combined secular Greek culture and Jewish culture of the time that no amount of following His Law will ever gain you access to Heaven.
His grace is poured out on any and all people only because of what Jesus, or Joshua, accomplished for you on the cross of Calvary. Now He can lead you into Heaven, the Promised Land where God dwells, by your simple willingness to trust Him as your only remedy for your sins and allowing Him, Jesus Christ, to be your Savior and Lord of your life.
God has not changed. He only has one plan. Since John explained to the Greeks and Jews of the time that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, He still is. The question is, what will you do with this Carpenter from Nazareth who claims to be your only Way to Heaven?
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.