John, the author, wants to make sure we know that this philosophical “Word” he’s been talking about is the real live flesh-and-blood Jesus that John the Baptist was talking about. It’s all about Jesus. It’s always about Jesus. Jesus is the centerpoint of the whole kit-and-kaboodle. Then John keeps piling it on: “From the fullness of his grace we are all received one blessing after another.” Everything that God wanted to say about Himself and show us of Himself is captured in the person of Jesus: his power, grace, love, forgiveness, gentleness, judgment, purpose, etc. Jesus is the source, he is the means, and he is the goal.
But didn’t God already show us those things in the books (the Old Testament, especially the books of Moses) that came before? Yep, but this is a new arrangement set on top of that one: conforming to it, but superseding it with new forms. He would show us not only what the law was all about (ultimate redemption), but more of what God was all about (grace, truth, and the invitation going out to the whole world to come).
But, many protest, it’s impossible to see God! First of all, he’s a spirit. Secondly, the Bible itself says if you see the Guy you die. What John is telling us here is not that you saw him as God who will eventually be seen (after all, Phil. 2.6 tells us he emptied himself to come to earth), but that God’s real character can be seen in Jesus, who is the full expression of God’s life and love. And, by the way, this verse includes yet ANOTHER blunt statement that Jesus is God. Did you catch it? “No one has ever seen God, but GOD THE ONE AND ONLY, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. He was with God, and he was God.”
He could hardly paint a more noble, shocking, deep, exciting, awe-filled portrait of who Jesus is: God Himself, in glory and splendor, spilling over with grace, truth, and light for the world, with an invitation for anyone who wants to to join with him. But John isn’t done yet. He has merely set the stage for what’s coming in the rest of the book.