John 1:14-15 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John [the Baptizer] testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me, because he was before me.”
Verse 17 – For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
Verses 19 through 28 are about the priests questioning John about who he is. They may have been wondering if he was the promised Messiah. He confessed to the freely that he was not the Christ.
They then ask him if he is Elijah, and he says he is not. According to scripture, the prophet Elijah never died, but was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). They may have believed Elijah would therefore come back one day. (Like King Arthur returning to Britain at her hour of greatest need? I have no idea.)
Then they ask him if he is the Prophet. Who is the Prophet? My NIV text notes point me to Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18, which say: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him (v. 15). I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him (v. 18). My NIV notes on Deuteronomy say that these passages are a collective reference to all the prophets who will follow after Moses. What the Jewish people of Jesus’ day thought The Prophet meant, I don’t know.
Then John says this: “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:26-27)
There is probably a lot of deep thought and theology here that I’m not grasping, but one thing leaps out at me as loud as can be. Although he prophesied, Jesus is NOT a prophet in the same way as the line of prophets from Moses to John. John is saying just how unlike Jesus he really is. He’s not even worthy to tie Jesus’s shoes.
The next verse makes this even more clear: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Verse 29). I’ve read the entire Old Testament and no mere prophet was ever called the Lamb of God, or considered able to take away any sins, let alone the sins of the whole world.
So the first part of this chapter emphasizes that Jesus is God. Jesus is Creator. Jesus is Light. Jesus is Life. This second part, where we first see Jesus walking around as a human, we see him from another angle. Human and divine.