Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ
By Erik Retallick
“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 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. From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14-16).
These words from the prologue of John’s Gospel always have a great impact on me, every time I read them, because they contain such profound facts about Jesus being sent into the world by God the Father, primarily to bring grace and truth and to die on the cross to deliver us from sin and open the gates of heaven to all believers. I would like to share some thoughts on this passage with you and show how this short part of the opening of John’s Gospel gives us an insight into where heaven and earth meet, and show us the fullness of God’s Grace and Truth revealed in His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In “The Message” paraphrase of this passage, verse 14 reads, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.” I remember hearing an illustration about two men who were observing an ant’s nest and all the activity going on around it, where each tiny creature seemed to be working towards the good of all the other ants in the colony. One man said to the other, “if these ants had a crisis which needed fixing, what would be the best way to do it?” The other guy said, after a moment’s hesitation, “I think the best way I could help would be to become one of them.”
That is precisely what God did, when He saw the failure of the law, in that it only shows us how far we fall short of His standard, which is absolute perfection. By sending Jesus into the world, He was able to show perfection in human form to our sad and broken world. By His teaching and the way He lived, Jesus was able to show what God was like, to deal with the problems and ravages of sin and restore us to right relationships with our heavenly Father and with one another.
John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, says, “we have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of Grace and Truth. There must have been something about Jesus that really made Him stand out from the crowd. John stood out, because he lived a hermit like life wearing camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey. As Arthur Blessitt used to say, “Man, John the Baptist was weird, but he was God’s man!” No wonder when Jesus was found eating and drinking with sinners, it caused quite a shock to the religious establishment of Pharisees and Sadducees.
The point is that Jesus went to where the people were, where they met to talk and where they discussed politics, business and all the issues of the day. Imagine if Jesus were living in your local community today. Where would you be likely to meet Him? In the local Church, at the biggest Church in your area, in the local store, walking along the street, or maybe even in the local bar, McDonalds or Starbucks. We don’t know whether He drank alcohol or whether it was unfermented grape juice, but we do know that He changed water into wine (or grape juice?) of the finest quality when they ran out of drink at a wedding in Cana in Galilee (read John 2 for more details). This demonstrated graphically the ability of God to provide for our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.
It is interesting to notice that John links Grace and Truth together in His description of the outstanding characteristics of Jesus. Grace is demonstrated in the undeserved kindness He demonstrated towards the outcasts of society, lepers, those who were destitute and those who needed deliverance from guilt, sin, and disease. He even raised people from the dead, like Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, (John 11), to prove that God is Lord over life and death.
The Truth is something that is often uncomfortable to us in these days of relativism and excess of toleration and liberalism (with a small l !). In my country they now often say when a politician lies, that they are being “economical with the truth.” Those who are more cynical would say, “How can you tell when a politician is lying,” to which the answer given is “you can see his lips moving.” The law as given by God through Moses in the Ten Commandments (read Exodus 20) is the pure and truthful way God originally intended His people to live by, after the fall, and the nation of Israel today has taken this as its basis for its whole legal system, expanding it to over 600 specific laws! In Galatians 3:24-25 Paul wrote, “the law was put in place to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
I see Grace and Truth as two inseparable things, rather like the two rails on a railroad track. One without the other is impossible for us to travel through our lives by. Remember that Jesus said of Himself , “I am the Way and Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). This has been quoted to me several times over the last week by a glowing activist Christian in Pakistan, where the majority of the population follow Mohammad and Shariah law.
Incidentally, in Pakistan it has been declared illegal to be an atheist, but there is a caste system under which Christians are regarded as very much lower down the social scale than those who are Islamic because they represent a mere 1 or 2 per cent of the population. Although they live a life of poverty, many of the Christians in this land are a great example to us in these days, and take time to pray for us! Do we take time to get to know them and pray for them in the same way?
I love the way in which the Apostle John opens His Gospel and the great way in which He develops the themes and gives us an insight into the ministry and work of our Lord Jesus! I recommend that you read the prologue in Chapter 1, verses 1-18, and if you are not familiar with the Bible, continue to read through the whole book. If you have any questions you would like me to answer, please contact me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be most happy to address any questions you have or issues you may be facing in your life.
Let me leave you with a comment about God’s grace to give you some further thoughts and allow you to reflect on my podcast.
Matt Chandler, in his book “The Explicit Gospel,” says, “Without a heart transformed by the grace of Christ, we just continue to manage external and internal darkness.”