“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” — 1 John 5:20
As Christmas draws ever closer, I would like to offer a little reflection from this verse once again reminding us of the significance of this season we celebrate.
There are at least four great truths found in this verse:
1. The Incarnation–When John writes that “the Son of God has come,” he means that the eternal, divine Son of God has come to our world as a man; flesh and blood. We know this from what John has previously written in chapter 4 and verse 2, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come in the flesh! Incarnated Majesty lying in a manger, dependent upon the very hands He had fashioned. We read of him “[increasing] in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Lk 2:52) In the gospels we walk with him along dusty Judean roads. We relate with his hunger and weariness. We see him touch and be touched. We witness his brutal beating, bloody death, burial, and bodily resurrection. All because the Son of God has come!
2. Fulfillment–When John says that “the Son of God has come,” he speaks decisively, reminding us that the Person of promise has come. As a Jew, John had been a part of a long line of those eagerly looking for the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming of God’s Messiah. John is saying that Jesus is the fulfillment of those prophecies. The way He came–virgin birth (Is 7:14); the place He was born–Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); the ministry He gave–Spirit-anointed proclamation and miracles (Is 35:5-6, 61:1-2; Matt 11:2-5; Lk 4:18-20); the death He died–substitutionary penal sacrifice on a tree (Dt 21:23; Ps 22; Is 53; Gal 3:13); the resurrection He experienced (Ps 2:7; 16:8-11; Is 55:3; Acts 13:30-37); and the ascension He enjoyed (Ps 110:1; Acts 2:32-35; Ps 68:18; Eph 4:8) are all fulfilments of God’s Word in the Old Testament. In the coming of the Son of God, the promises have been fulfilled, and the plan of redemption accomplished!
3. Revelation–John says that the Son of God “has given us understanding.” Understanding of what? or of whom? Answer: “Him who is true.” Jesus is the revelation of God. Jesus told his disciple Philip, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” The words of Jesus are the words of God. The acts of Jesus are the acts of God. In seeing Jesus, we see God. He is the revelation of God, the Son who “has given us understanding.”
4. Relation–All of this–incarnation, fulfilment, revelation–means something for us. It means that by faith in the Son Jesus Christ, we have been put in right and intimate relation to God. Notice John’s words, “so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.” We who were strangers and aliens know God. We who were separated have been united to Christ. “[Our] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3) And by the Spirit, the Father and Son “come to [us] and make [their] home with [us].” (Jn 14:23) God in Christ has put us in relation to “the true God and eternal life!”
May these truths of Christmas grant us assurance, joy, and life that issues forth in wonder and worship.
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.