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 1:14).
God became man. The Creator became part of the creation. Jesus Christ did not come to set Himself above us, though He is and has the right to demand we recognize that truth. He lived among us, in the midst of us, as one of us. As Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus did not come in secret or do things when no one was watching. Jesus said in John 18:20, “I have spoken openly to the world, I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.” John and the other Apostles saw His glory. His glory was the very glory of God, the glory of the Father Himself.
What was the glory that Jesus exhibited? How did He show that He was from the Father? John describes His glory as being full of grace and truth.
John and the other disciples knew Jesus was from the Father because he was full of the same glory.
This was the gift that the Father sent us, He sent us His Son full of His grace and truth. Jesus embodied them, and lived them, taught them, and gave them.
Being a Christian, becoming like Christ means being full of grace and truth. Full of grace and full of truth. Not some of one and some of the other. Not all one and none of the other. If we are growing into the image of Christ we will be changing into people who are full of grace and truth, because Jesus was full of grace and truth.
We need to be living in God’s grace. Jesus was full of grace because His Father is full of grace towards His people. Jesus embodied and lived in God’s grace because He was its source. We live in God’s grace because we are the recipients of it.
We need to know that our acceptance, our sonship, our relationship with God is built entirely on the foundation of God’s grace. You don’t earn it. You don’t work to keep it. You don’t make your relationship more secure by being successful and you don’t endanger it by failure.
Grace by its very definition is not deserved. It is the free gift of the giver. Living in God’s grace means knowing that because of the work of Jesus Christ you are loved, accepted, wanted, protected, forgiven, provided for, planned for, and blessed by the Father with the same love, passion, and joy that He has in His Son.
When I was a youth pastor, each summer I would take a group of teens to Soulfest, a kind of “Christian Woodstock” that takes place every summer at Gunstock Mountain. There was a jeweler there called Remember Me Jewelry. They had a ring there that I loved that was a design of chain links, but the top link was broken. The ring represented the freedom we have when we live in God’s grace. We are no longer bound by sin, by the call of material success, by the expectations of this world or anyone in it. We are free! Free to love, free to grow, free to live for God. Jesus came full of God’s grace so that we could live fully in it.
Being full of grace also means living out God’s grace. Jesus not only came full of grace that we might live in His grace, but so that like Jesus we might give out God’s grace by giving it out in our relationships.
Grace secures us before God and then forms the ground work for our relationships with each other. God gives us grace with the expectation that we will give people the same grace He has given us. This is very plainly taught in the Bible. For instance, Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Colossians 4:6 (NIV),
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
And Ephesians 4:32 (NIV),
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
To paraphrase the great reformer John Calvin, we are saved by grace alone but the grace that saves is never alone. God’s grace does not simply fill you up. It transforms you into a vessel that pours out that grace into the lives of those all around you: your wife, your husband, your kids, your friends and neighbors, your co-workers, the people you pass by in the street, the store clerk, your waiter, everyone. Even the people who hurt you. Jesus said (Matthew 5:43-48),
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We need to be perfect in giving grace even as our Father is perfect in giving grace.
Being full of grace means living in the certainty that our salvation is based solely on the work of Christ and the grace of the Father and not on anything we might do. And it means living out His grace by extending the grace that He gives us into the lives of those around us.