Have you ever watched an artist demonstration where they deliberately paint in steps that obscure the final picture until the last few strokes? I’ve seen this technique used as music played while the artist works. You can tell exactly when enough of the picture is complete and the audience has figured out what it is going to be – the silence is broken by a collective “aha” moment. I’ve also experienced this with street artists painting with spray paint. The strokes are so quick the picture changes constantly, plus you’re watching it “upside down.” Suddenly they’re finished and turn the canvas to face you, and, in that moment, what was confusing becomes crystal clear.
I was reminded of this while reading John 1 today. John’s gospel is the “aha” moment, while the Old Testament prophecies are the brush strokes that conceal the Son of God. John writes for one purpose alone, but we won’t read his thesis statement until chapter 20.
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may life in His name.John 20:30-31
John writes to reveal Jesus for who He is. He wants there to be no confusion or doubt in the minds of any of his readers. You see, there had been four hundred years of silence in which no prophet had been sent by God to His people. Malachi was the last word. They were waiting for the promised Messiah but all they had to go on were the Old Testament prophecies. (By the way, they were enough – Jesus fulfilled over 300 specific prophecies, but that’s another topic.) Also, in the interim 400 years, the Jewish priesthood had splintered into factions (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, scribes, etc.), all of whom had put their own “spin” on the scriptures, making the original Law given to Moses an unbearable burden that God never intended.
Finally, the full picture is being revealed! John begins by declaring In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). Jesus is the Word of God, the eternal LAST word. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1:18). Jesus is the “aha” moment to reveal God to humanity and bring the grace and truth that would fulfill the Law (John 1:17).
The Law was how God originally revealed Himself to His people, the Israelites, and the rest of the known world by virtue of Israel’s following the Law. John MacArthur gives a great definition of the Law: God’s law is the standard for human action that corresponds to the righteous nature of God. In other words, it is God’s immutable, holy, and perfect character – His very essence – revealed in practical terms we can understand. Jesus came to explain that to us, to live it out in front of us perfectly, without sin, to reveal the perfection and glory of God.
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. … For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.John 1:14,17
In revealing God, Jesus also exposed our need for reconciliation to God because of our sin – our failure to “live up to” the perfect Law of God. John the Baptist introduces Jesus to the crowds who were coming to him for a baptism of repentance: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). Jesus is revealed as the better way; the Law provided a temporary covering for sin, but Jesus would take our sin away.
John’s gospel is a precious book because as we unpack each chapter, we are getting an inside look at God Himself. Jesus is God manifested in the flesh, and as we will read in just a few days, He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). This is important because John doesn’t write simply to display God but to cause those who see Him to believe. His gospel of 21 chapters contains the word “believe” 85 times! It’s as if He is saying, “Don’t just look at Jesus, believe in Jesus!”
Everyone is searching for “God.” Some search within themselves; some search in nature; some search by striving for peace and social justice. But all searches end in vain unless you meet the One who came to explain the one true God. Your “aha” moment will never come outside of Jesus. The brushstrokes of humanity cannot reveal our eternal, sovereign Creator. The good news is that God WANTS you to see Him, and that’s why Jesus came.