This Christmas Give Others the Gift of Grace and Truth, Just as God Gave Them to You
O Lord God, as I enter into Your presence for worship, I do so rejoicing in my Savior, Jesus Christ, whom You sent to bring me both grace and truth. It is in view of Your grace that I may come with confidence before You to confess my sins and to sing Your praises. It is in view of Your truth that I may listen to Your Word and be assured that I will come to know all that is necessary for life and salvation. Be with me and bless me this day. Amen.
The LORD promised to send a Prophet like Moses to His people. He would reveal the truths of God to them, and they were to listen to Him. That Prophet was Jesus!
Jesus is the “Word of life” whose gospel the apostles proclaimed. That message of grace led to fellowship between believers and with God. This occurred, John says, so that our joy may be full!
Text: John 1:14-18
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
In Christ Jesus, who is the Word made flesh—God’s gift to us sinners, dear fellow redeemed:
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? It is fun, is it not, to buy presents for others. That is especially true if you have grandchildren. My wife and I bought a set of big plastic trucks for our grandson, Jonah. I am quite excited because they are half as big as he is, but I must confess that I am concerned that he might sit in them and break the wheels off the first time he uses them. Then there is the cute outfit we bought for our newest granddaughter, Nora. It is for a three-month old, which she will be in February, but the dress is sleeveless. It comes with a three-quarter sleeve shirt, and we bought an extra sweater, but by the time she can wear the sleeveless dress she will probably have outgrown it. Then there is that person who will remain unnamed, but who is a bit fussy and may not like what we bought her. Come to think of it, buying presents can be kind of stressful! Maybe it is not as fun as I first suggested, especially when you take into consideration the cold weather, the difficulty finding parking, and the credit card bills that must be paid at the end of the month!
May I offer you a suggestion? THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE OTHERS THE GIFT OF GRACE AND TRUTH, JUST AS GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU! For Jesus came for you “full of grace and truth!” He bestows upon you “grace for grace!” And He finally brought to you “grace and truth!”
The Gospel of John does not include a nativity account as do the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It begins rather uniquely with a reference to Jesus’ divine, eternal, and omnipotent nature. John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5).
The closest that John gets to Christmas is his reference at the beginning of our text, when he writes: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The first half of that opening sentence refers to Jesus’ incarnation, which occurred at His conception and as He was revealed through His birth. John, however, was probably thinking of Jesus’ transfiguration when speaking of beholding His glory.
The ideas upon which we want to focus our attention, however, are (1) the fact that Jesus came for you and for me, and (2) the phrase that He was “full of grace and truth.” Christmas is much more than a national holiday. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to each of us to send a Savior to deliver us from our sin and sin’s consequences—death and hell. Christmas is, therefore, very personal. Jesus is God’s gift to you personally! But what does it mean that He is “full of grace and truth”?
As we explore the meaning of that phrase, it helps to refer to an Old Testament story involving God’s appearance to Moses. After the children of Israel had sinned by worshipping the golden calf, Moses had requested to see God’s face. God informed Moses that he could not see it and live (cf. Ex. 33:18-20). He then put Moses in the cleft of a rock and passed by him, declaring His name and allowing Moses to see, as it were, His backside. When declaring His name, the LORD said: “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). It is that final phrase used by the LORD God to define Himself, that John was moved by the Spirit to use in describing Jesus. Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” Grace is undeserved love. “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), and when Jesus came, He did not come with a half-measure or some other fraction of grace. No, He came with a perfect and complete grace—a grace sufficient to cover all our sins and bestow upon us every blessing God intends to give us.
Jesus also came for you “full of truth.” We live in a day in which the existence of absolute truth is denied with the consequence that humanity is left tossed and turning on an endless sea of subjective opinion. No one can, therefore, be certain of anything and, consequently, everyone is left without sure hope and stripped of confidence. But Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (cf. Jn. 14:6). As we listen to Him speak, we hear what our heavenly Father wants us to know—everything that we need to know for this life and the life to come. Yes, THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE OTHERS THE GIFT OF GRACE AND TRUTH, JUST AS GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU! For Jesus came for you and for everyone else “full of grace and truth!”
Jesus bestows upon you “grace for grace!” John writes: “John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John here quietly affirms Jesus’ eternal nature, when he repeats the words of witness spoken by John the Baptizer. John was born approximately three months earlier than Jesus and so was just slightly older than Jesus, but he bore witness to the fact that Jesus was “before” him, because Jesus is God and so existed from eternity.
As true God Jesus possessed a “fullness” that no mere man possesses. The apostle Paul writes that “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He also writes that “Jesus is the image of the invisible God…. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:15a, 16b-17). But John does not emphasize Jesus’ divine power at this point, but His divine grace. Jesus bestows upon each one of us “grace for grace.”
That phrase possesses such beauty and comfort for the repentant sinner, for it suggests that there is a never-ending stream of grace that flows down from God through Jesus to us. It is God’s grace—His undeserved love revealed through Jesus—that continues to wash away our sins, missteps, and mistakes. Every day, every hour fresh volumes of God’s forgiveness bathe us in heavenly love, cleansing us of all unrighteousness (cf. 1 Jn. 1:9) and allowing us to stand before our God with joy and with confidence. It is that grace which casts out our every fear (cf. 1 Jn. 1:4; 1 Jn. 4:18). Paul provides commentary on this phrase, when he writes: “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20b-21). Satan cannot come and claim that we stand outside the reach and blessing of God’s grace. It is ours to claim by faith in Jesus as the living Son of God and our precious Savior from sin.
It is that same grace, which is to characterize our interpersonal relationships. The apostle Paul writes: “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col. 3:12-15). This is grace in action. Grace cost Jesus His life, but it has been freely given to us, and we are freely to give it to others. When we do, what a difference it makes in our lives, for then love and peace will reign not merely within our hearts, but also within our homes, our places of work, and this congregation. My dear friends, THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE OTHERS THE GIFT OF GRACE AND TRUTH, JUST AS GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU! For Jesus bestows upon you “grace for grace!”
Finally, Jesus alsobrought to you “grace and truth!” John concludes our text by writing: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
Every human being has a natural, albeit imperfect, knowledge of God’s law written within his or her heart. God revealed to His Old Testament people His law in written form through Moses. That law, found by nature within the human heart and that law revealed in written form through Moses, cannot save us. It rather was and is intended to serve a three-fold purpose—to curb our natural appetites, to provide information for our guidance, and, finally and primarily, to condemn us—to stop us from boasting about our own supposed moral achievements and to show us decisively that we are sinners in need of Jesus as our Savior.
Jesus came, not to condemn us, but rather to save us. Later in John’s Gospel he records these familiar and important words of Jesus which summarize the gospel message we are to share with others: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:16-17). This is a message of grace, but it is also a summary of the truth of salvation revealed in the Bible and without which we and no one else can be saved.
In a recent home visit one of our members asked me this question: “If Jesus died to forgive the sins of the world, does that mean that everyone will go to heaven?” Jesus did come to live and to die to redeem the entire world. This is absolute truth! The Bible says that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them” (2 Cor. 5:19) and that Jesus “is the propitiation (a satisfactory payment) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2). Consequently, as mentioned in those precious words of Jesus, “Whoever believes in Him (that is, in Jesus) should not perish but have everlasting life.” The sad truth, however, is that many reject Jesus and refuse the blessing He provides them through His atoning work. They, therefore, reject both Jesus’ grace and His truth and will lose their immortal souls. There is and can be nothing more tragic than that!
My dear friends, for that very reason, it is so important that in the midst of all the gift-buying and gift-giving this Christmas season, we remember that the greatest gift of all is the gift God gave us in Jesus. He gives us grace and truth. This is the gift we want to share more than any other with those whom we love, with those whom we know, and with those whom we are yet to meet.THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE OTHERS THE GIFT OF GRACE AND TRUTH, JUST AS GOD GAVE THEM TO YOU! For Jesus came for you “full of grace and truth!” He bestows upon you “grace for grace!” And He finally brought to you “grace and truth!” Amen.