Grace Upon Grace
A daily devotion for January 3rd
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:16-18)
Notice the reappearance in verse 17 of the words
grace and truth, and the contrast which John draws between them and the Law and Moses. The Law makes demands. It is hard, cold, unyielding, without mercy. The symbol of it today is the IRS — the Tax Man. If we do not give up what the law requires we are subject to penalty:
Do this and thou shalt live, says the IRS. John says that the Law was given by Moses. Moses did not originate it, but he gave it. Moses may disappear, but the Law remains — cold, unyielding, demanding, without mercy.
But, John says,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Take away Jesus and you take away grace and truth; he is the channel of them. What John is saying in this section is that law is all about demand, but grace and truth are all about supply, and are designed to meet that demand.
Many people think that law and grace are contradictory, that they are opposing principles. But not in the sense in which they were originally intended. Law and grace supplement one another. Law makes its demands, rightfully and justly, and no one can meet them, but grace and truth is given in order to meet that demand.
In Exodus 20 there is the remarkable account of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai — the Law, which came with smoke, thunder, earthquake, fire, fear and trembling. But in the very next section we read the detailed plans for the building of the tabernacle — God's provision to meet the demands of the Law. That tabernacle is a picture of Jesus, the meeting place where God's demands are fully met in terms of the sacrifice of blood, of a life poured out. Thus John saw in the coming of Jesus the fulfillment of that tabernacle:
The one who was after me has already been before me. So it is with us. We can say with John,
Out of his fullness (of grace and truth), we have all received, grace upon grace.
God has a daily supply of grace for us. Grace is the generosity of love reaching out toward us, giving itself to us. To those who come to Christ, God's promise is that every day we can take a new supply of his love. We can know that we are loved. We know we are cherished, protected, and blessed. We are strengthened, kept, and supported by his love; grace upon grace, day after day, like the manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. God gives us a daily supply of love. Because we have been loved, when we reach out in love to someone else, when we give as fully and freely as we have received, then we fulfill the Law, for love is the fulfilling of the Law.
Father, I thank you for the grace of our Lord Jesus. What a gift that he has come among us to reveal you to us and to bring us to you. Help me to walk in the warmth and love of his grace today.
Life Application: God's amazing grace transforms His moral law into liberating truth. Are we grasping the rhythm of grace with truth and truth with grace?
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