When I was seven years old, my family lived in a little community in North Dakota called Beach. One day the whole family piled into the car to visit my great-aunt Grace, who lived in a little community called Killdeer. When we got to Killdeer, the house was filled with adults and a few older cousins. We were quite bored, so Aunt Grace instructed one of the older cousins to walk us down to the school playground, which was few blocks away. We were glad to go. The cousin took us there and left us on our own to play.
A great deal of time passed, and we decided we probably should get back to Aunt Grace’s house. Unfortunately we could not remember how to get back there. After a couple of attempts with nothing looking familiar to us, I realized we were lost. My sister started crying. I did something I probably should not have done. I took her by the hand and began to knock on doors. When people answered I would ask, “Do you know where Grace lives?”
The first few homes did not know Grace. Finally, I knocked on a door where a younger adult man responded positively to my question, “Do you know where Grace lives?” He asked about her last name and I could not remember. He told us to wait a minute and he would check his phone book. He came back out and said, “Yes, I know where Grace lives. Get into my car and I will drive you there.” We got in the car and a few minutes later we were sitting in front of Grace’s house. We were so relieved. My sister ran in and immediately told my parents how we had gotten lost. They were not too happy about that, but were glad to see us. We had a pleasant dinner, piled back into the car, and made the long drive home that evening. All ended well.
Do you know where grace lives? I am not talking about my aunt, but the experience one has when God steps into their life and they receive His unmerited love and favor. Do you know where to find that? We hear about it now and then. For instance, from the sober alcoholic who testifies that is by the grace of God that he hasn’t had a drink in a long time. Or we might hear a friend talk about God as if he lives right in his house with him. Or we hear someone who has gone through a crisis and says, “I would never have made it but by the grace of God.” We think to ourselves that we would like to have some of that grace. Where can we find it?
John tells us in his Gospel that I just read where to find grace. He first tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Replace the Word with Jesus, because that is the truth John is sharing with us. Then we learn that the Word was not only with God, but that the Word was God. They are one in the same.
In verse 14, John announces that the Word (Jesus) became flesh and lived among us. That is John’s way of saying that Word became a human being and tabernacled among us. We are reminded of God’s presence with his people in wilderness as he led them to the Promised Land. His presence was in the Tabernacle. I like the way Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase, interprets this: “The Word moved into our neighborhood and became one of us.” He came to get personal with us.
John goes on and states, “We have seen his glory, glory as of a Father’s only Son.” That is an Old Testament word as well. It is associated with God’s presence. One time Moses told God he wanted to see His glory. God said, “Turn your face away and I will make my goodness pass by you. But don’t you look at me. No one can look at me and live.”
Think of the glory of God that rested upon the tabernacle at the end of each day when the Israelites would camp on their way to the Promised Land. Glory has something to do with the very presence of God. John says Jesus was full of that glory of God. He was a reflection of God. When you looked into the face of Jesus, you were looking into the face of God.
What was that face like? John describes that face. He writes that it was full of GRACE. It was overflowing with unmerited love . . . And TRUTH . . . He knows what makes life work and what we need to know about ourselves and our Father.
John then testifies, “From his fullness . . .” There is a New Testament term we find in Colossians as Paul describes that in Jesus is the fullness of God. “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” In other words, trusting in Christ we receive an abundance of God’s love in our lives. Someone once described that grace in this way – it is like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon. You cannot do it. It is inexhaustible.
John then goes on and says, “You know God was good to us when he gave us Moses.” That first step was important. Moses gave us the Law, but that was the just a beginning. Now in Jesus Christ we get grace and truth. That first covenant was fine; now God has stepped into this world to save us with his grace.
Then he wraps his story up by saying, “It is God – the only Son who is intimately tied to God – who has made God known.” He has taken us on a personal God tour. He has shown us God’s heart.
Later in John’s Gospel Jesus will say, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
To look into the face of Jesus Christ is to look into the face of God. Looking into that face a person will find, receive, and experience GRACE. Grace has a face – Jesus Christ!
We no longer have to guess about God in terms of how he feels about me and what he thinks. Christ has made him known as he stepped into our world filled with grace and truth.
We hear the grace and truth in Jesus’ story of the son who left his father’s home and blew his inheritance. When he came home broke, he was surprised with the grace of his Father. Jesus said that is a picture of God.
We see that grace and truth as we look at the cross. Jesus died to save us from our sins. We were in debt up to our ears in our sinfulness. Far away. However, God in his mercy gave us his Son, who died upon that cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He paid the debt in full. Forgiveness awaits the sinner who turns to him. We have the promise of eternal life in his heaven as we place our trust in the One who gave himself for us and was raised again. Jesus Christ.
Two or three years after getting lost in Killdeer my parents moved our family to Livingston, Montana. One day a new friend’s mother asked if they could take me to Chico Hot Springs to go swimming. It was a natural hot springs pool. Mom said yes, but keep an eye on me because I was not a good swimmer.
The day arrived when we went. Mom reminded me to play it safe and be careful. There are two pool areas at Chico. One was big and the other small. Being new to this place I assumed that the small pool was shallow so I jumped in. I was wrong. It was the hottest pool and quite deep for a little guy like me. In my surprise I swallowed a lot of water. As I came back up, I was panicked and cried for help. When I went down again, I could see horrified faces behind the fence as people watched me drowning. Suddenly after a third time a hand reached out and yanked me to the side. As I looked up sputtering, I saw the face of a young man who had responded to my cry and put me back on solid ground. I said thanks, relieved.
You know, that is what Jesus did for you and me. I was drowning in my sin. However, Jesus did not just reach down – he jumped in and sacrificed his own life to put me on solid ground in my relationship with my Father in heaven. That is grace.
Fortunately the guy on the side of pool did not yell, “Try harder” or “Try doing it this way.” No, he stooped down and took action to save me. That is what Christ Jesus has done for you and me. From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
Now, did you notice that a couple of times John uses the word we? “We have seen his glory” as if he were saying, I lived with him. I had a personal relationship with him. I followed him and was there when he turned water into wine. I saw his glory repeatedly in the various signs. Ultimately I saw his glory at the cross and grave as he gave his life for me. God raised him on the third day, putting his stamp of approval upon that sacrifice.
The second time he uses the word we, he says, “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” He seems to be making a proclamation, an announcement. Grace has been made available to everyone. It is offered to everyone. God invites us to come and hold out our empty hands so that he might pour his unmerited love and favor into our lives as we entrust ourselves to his care and leadership. He wants to give you a grace testimony like John’s.
Grace is available and it has a face – the face of Jesus Christ. So . . .
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of his glory and grace.