December 31, 2012
“After me … preferred before me … He was before me.”
“He that cometh after me is preferred before me for He was before me” (1:15) and “a Man preferred before me for he was before me” (v 30). How are we to understand this? In what way was He both after and before John?
Although born after John chronologically, Christ was before John as to His pre-incarnate existence. John was a messenger sent “by” God (v 6), whereas Christ was with the Father and was sent from His heart and His side. So John’s statement that He was before him, testifies to His eternal pre-existence. His statement that He came “after him” refers to His incarnation. As a result He is preferred or has precedence over John.
As the pre-existent Son of the living God, He was greater than John, who was the greatest of the prophets. Although born after, He was before Him in both existence and pre-eminence. In a similar way, Christ is referred to as David’s Lord and David’s Son.
John’s Gospel will bring before us the greatness and supremacy of Christ. We will see that He is greater than “our father Jacob” (ch 4), than Moses (ch 6), than Abraham (ch 8), and than all the shepherds who ever ruled for God (ch 10). He will be shown to be greater than the manna (ch 6), the Temple (ch 2), the Feasts (ch 7), and Israel the unfruitful vine (ch 15), to name a few. He is greater in His person, His work, and His revelation.
1. John refers to Him as “a man.” This is one of seven statements about the true humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel record which stresses His deity.
2. Notice John’s interrogation and confession: when he speaks of himself, each of the three times he has less to say about himself (vv 19-21). When he speaks of Christ he says more each time he speaks (vv 23-34). His example here testifies to the truthfulness of what he will say in chapter 3:30: “He must increase; I decrease.”
3. Go through John’s Gospel and notice all the things which distinguish Christ from Moses, beginning in chapter 1:17. It never says anything negative about Moses. It teaches us that no matter how highly we can speak of any servant of the Lord, each pales before the glory of the Son.