Grace and Truth
As the Apostle John begins his Gospel concerning the Lord Jesus he introduces him as the Word who is God. The Word is described in amazing terms:
He is eternal, with God in the beginning
He is the creator of all things
He is the life-giver and light to all humanity
Yet his works on our behalf had only begun. This awesome and powerful God did a more amazing thing. He took upon himself the form of human flesh and came to dwell among us, as one of us, and to show us his glory. Wow! What lofty superlatives will John use to describe this Almighty Eternal Creator God who descended to become human?
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. John 1:14
In John 1:14 the glory of the Word who came from God the Father is simply described as being “full of grace and truth”. The magnitude of these two characteristics should not be underestimated. The use of the word full indicates that grace and truth inhabit all the capacity within the Lord Jesus. Being full generally indicates there is no room for anything else!
The Greek word translated truth conveys the meaning of that which is real, genuine, faithful, and reliable. Why is this truth needed in our world? Jesus came full of truth to a world that so often proves unreliable, unjust, false, fake, and deceptive! Jesus countered this with the gracious words that spoke peace, and his actions that healed.
The word translated grace refers to goodwill freely dispersed for the benefit of the recipient. Jesus was always benefiting others rather than building something for himself. Earlier John contrasts Jesus who shines as a light with the darkness of this present world. Jesus shines a light of grace and truth to those who were oppressed and mistreated that no argument nor deception of the darkness could put out!
In Jesus’ day, those who were suffering were often condemned by those who were prosperous for having done something wrong to deserve their harsh lot in life.
Jesus graciously offered these people compassion, understanding, healing, deliverance, and new life while standing in their defense like the blind and lepers!
Those who held high positions and financial prosperity often felt these advantages in life were evidence of God’s favor upon them, expecting to be treated with special respect.
In Jesus’ teaching, he graciously pronounced blessings upon the poor, hungry, mourning, and meek because God’s kingdom could belong to them in Matt 5!
It was customary for those in position to teach and enforce the rules, whether in religion or civil authority, to enforce them strictly, but design loopholes for themselves.
Jesus at times publically exposed hypocrisy, while graciously offering healing and blessing to those who were condemned and mistreated because they were not considered good enough, of which we have numerous examples.
It was believed that God was only interested in good people who performed certain good works; often while drawing attention to themselves for the praise of others.
Jesus would bypass those who did well to draw attention to themselves, to connect with the one who was looking for God like Zacchaeus the tax collector.
Most of us learn from an early age that we cannot always count on this world accurately portraying what is real or showing us what is right. Though there are many good people of upright character who do laudable work for the benefit of others. We may discover that we cannot depend on this world to always have our best interests at heart. We often learn not to trust this world to be faithful and just. When Jesus told Pilate he came to bear witness to the truth, Pilate replied, “What is truth?” He knew he was not hearing the truth from Jesus’ accusers and may have despaired of truth ever being valued in his world!
If we are to be a light that counters the darkness in our world today, should we not seek to understand and demonstrate the grace and truth in a manner that Jesus did?