John 1:15-18 — Law and Grace

(John testified concerning [Jesus]. 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.’”) 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.

Grace upon grace! This so beautifully describes the abundance and overflow of God's grace that we receive through Jesus Christ. But what is grace? 

Grace is the unmerited favor God bestows upon us, not because we have done anything to earn it, but because God wants us to have it out of his generosity. Imagine a beggar sitting by the side of the road, homeless and destitute, destined to die on the streets where he lives. A king passes by and suddenly showers him with gold. The beggar didn't do anything to deserve this sudden outpouring of treasure; the king just wanted to let him have a gift out of the generosity of his heart. 

God is like that king, and we are like that beggar. We may want to lay claim upon many things, including salvation, but the fact of the matter is we cannot. Like that beggar, we are spiritual paupers destined to die in our sin. We cannot do anything to earn salvation, but God gifted it to us in his infinite mercy. As Paul said in words that we have heard earlier but have to internalize until we have understood it completely: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

John contrasts the grace that came with Jesus Christ with the law given through Moses. The law refers to the commandments given by God to the people of Israel. It was a standard of righteousness that required strict obedience and adherence to a set of rules. However, while the law served to reveal sinfulness, it had no power to save us, as no one could fully keep the law and attain salvation by their own efforts. Consequently, it pointed out our need for a Savior. Enter Jesus. Enter grace.

While the law reveals our need for salvation and righteousness, grace provides the solution. The law brings conviction, but grace brings redemption. The law condemns, but grace offers forgiveness. The law focuses on human effort, but grace emphasizes God's unmerited favor. The law highlights our failures, but grace highlights God's faithfulness. Simply put, the law shows us our need for a Savior, but grace provides the way to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Let us understand this if we are to live in the freedom and fullness of our faith. 

God bless you.