Hey Church Family!
If you could sum up Christianity in one word, it would probably be grace. That makes sense. We talk about grace, sing about grace, and preach about grace. What I find fascinating is how much we love grace, but really don't understand it. So, what is grace anyway?
A simple definition of grace is this: getting something you don't deserve.
In John 8, there is an amazing story of the grace of Jesus. A woman is brought before Jesus. She'd just been caught committing adultery—an act in that day that was punishable by death. Some leaders bring the offender before Jesus, not because they want justice, but because they want to trap Jesus. Their question to Jesus demonstrated they did not care about the woman nor the law. "In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
Interestingly, we're still sort of divided on this. It depends a bit on your background and upbringing. Some of us are more justice-oriented people. We think, "You broke the law, you should pay." Others of us are more mercy oriented and think, "I don't want anyone to receive what's coming to them." We tend to fall into one of two camps—and the religious leaders where trying to get Jesus to pick a side. Jesus picks neither.
After Jesus declares that the one without sin could throw the first stone, one by one the men leave. I imagine big thuds on the ground as the stones they had poised ready to throw suddenly fall from their hands.
Jesus asks the woman standing there, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you?" Her reply was simple and brief, "No one sir."
I've always wondered if this woman knew who Jesus really was. Here she was standing before Jesus, the original law-giver. Here she was standing before Jesus, the only one who was without sin. Here she was standing before Jesus, the only one who had every right to throw the first stone, to condemn her, to humiliate her, to execute her for sin—and yet, his response was simple and brief as well. "Then neither do I condemn you." The reason Jesus said this is because that wasn't his reason for coming to earth. His reason was to save it. To offer grace. To step into our place.
Grace is getting something you don't deserve. What the woman deserved was to be put to death. To be publicly shamed and ridiculed. To be made a public spectacle. That is what all of us deserved. Only that never happened to her, and it doesn't have to happen to us either. Why? Because it happened to Jesus. Grace is Jesus stepping into our place. Jesus took what we all deserved, and then he offered new life.
Grace is a gift. You can't earn it. You don't deserve it. Grace would no longer be grace if God was compelled to give it because of your good behavior. And grace would no longer be grace if God was compelled to withdraw it because of our misbehavior. In other words, grace plus anything is anything but grace.
Our only response to this gift of grace? Receive it by faith—nothing more, nothing less.
That's what makes grace so amazing. My prayer for you this week is that you would live into that grace. The words of Jesus to the woman are the words we need to hear: "Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin."
Together in Christ,
Notes from the Staff @The Woods