Giving grace to all the wrong people.

In short, the life of Christ is perfect justice and perfect grace on display.

That sounds amazing, but when you look at it, it’s disconcerting because it appears that Jesus keeps giving God’s best to the worst people. Repeatedly.

Grace, as Paul spoke about it in his letters, looks like this: Christ upholds and fulfills God’s law perfectly for you and then His grace and mercy is extended toward you and it’s entirely in spite of you. 

In the 15th century there was a monk in a monastery, killing himself to earn God’s grace and keep his salvation when he rediscovered Paul’s theology of justification in the letter he wrote to Galatia.

“God’s law says ‘do this’ and it is never done. God’s gospel says ‘believe this’ and it is already done.” ~ Martin Luther

Another way of thinking about the counter intuitive nature of God’s grace is as follows,

“The Gospel is good news for you, precisely because it doesn’t depend on you. – Dr. Michael Horton”

As you work your way through the epistles to the churches in the New Testament, you find that maturity in the Christian life is counter intuitive. As opposed to saying “thank you” for grace and then proceeding to keep God’s law through human effort, the same grace that saved you, sustains you and teaches you. [1] In other words, only the power of God’s grace can produce the desire to keep His law. [2]

Consider this. In Matthew 7, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. As you work through the sermon, you find the standards impossibly high and by the conclusion you have two options:

  1. Put all your chips on Jesus.
  2. Try harder to keep God’s perfect law.

In Matthew 8, there is a radical shift in Jesus ministry from teaching to healing. Right after articulating what God requires from people, He walks down the mountain and lavishes grace on the wrong people. The outcast. The sinner. The undeserving. Us.

In fact, the first three healing miracles of Christ showcase the radical pattern of how God’s grace comes to us …

He heals a leper who is outcast because of his physical condition. Jesus crosses physical barriers and makes the unclean – clean. We are the leper: created in grace, broken by sin, restored by grace.

He heals a centurions servant who is outcast because of his ethnic position. Jesus crosses ethnic barriers and makes the unclean – clean. We are the centurion: created in grace, ostracized by sin, restored by grace.

He heals Peter’s mother in law who is outcast because of her social condition. Jesus crosses social barriers and makes the unclean – clean. We are the mother-in-law: created in grace, cast aside because of sin, restored by grace.

Every miracle that Christ does is a sign. A sovereign mic drop:   The creator God is the redeeming God. Signs point. I strongly encourage you not to obsess over miracles and vow not to rest until you get one. Rather, look at where all the signs are pointing and find your rest there: Christ alone.

You couldn’t touch a Rabbi – you’d make him unclean.
You couldn’t touch the Holy of Holies – you’d make the temple unclean.

Jesus went around touching the unclean and made them clean.

You don’t clean yourself up and come to Jesus. You don’t clean yourself up and come to church. Christ makes the unclean – clean. Look to Christ and find grace on display. Jesus keeps giving God’s best to the worst people. Repeatedly.

Now church, having been given this great grace – may we be like small children who, having been given a great gift – run off to enjoy it, living to the glory of the One who has made us, the unclean … clean.

Press on,

Paul

[ You can Listen to “Jesus makes the unclean-clean” HERE ]

[1] Titus 2:11-14 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

[2] Philippians 1:6 – He who began the work, completes it | Galatians 5:22 – the fruit of the Spirit is the Spirit’s work. Our work is not about completing the work of Christ in us, but loving our neighbour.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: