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Text Illustrations
The law indeed was given through Moses;

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ … (Verse 17)



If you compare the two, you’ll find that when the Law came down, 3,000 people died. That’s in Exodus 32:28.


When the Holy Spirit came down, 3,000 people were saved. That’s in Acts 2:41.


That’s the difference between God’s Law and God’s Grace.



Victor Hugo, in his book, Les Miserables, gives a great example of grace. In the story, an ex-convict named Jean Valjean, who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family, is forced to carry around a yellow ticket for everyone to see that he’s an ex-convict.


With that ticket displayed, he tries to get a room at an inn, even offering to sleep in the barn. But the innkeeper throws him out, telling him that they are law-abiding, Godly people.


In despair, Valjean sits outside a house and laments:


And now I know how freedom feels

The jailer always at your heels

It is the law!

This piece of paper in my hand

That makes me cursed throughout the land

It is the law!

Like a cur

I walk the street

The dirt beneath my feet.



Just then the bishop steps out of the house, sees Valjean, and invites him inside for food, drink, and rest, offering him a bed sleep in, and shelter from the cold outside.


So Valjean accepts the Bishop’s offer, eats a hearty meal, and steals the silverware in the middle of the night. When the police catch him, he tries to tell them that the bishop gave him the silverware as a present. So the police bring him back to the bishop’s house to prove he’s lying.


When they arrive at the house, the bishop comes running out the door holding two silver candlesticks, which he gives to Valjean, telling the police that he forgot to give the candlesticks to Valjean when he gave him the rest of the silverware. So the police release Valjean and they walk away.


Valjean is now puzzled about why the Bishop would have saved him from going to prison, and even give him more silver.



At that point the Bishop turns to Valjean and says:


But remember this, my brother

See in this some higher plan

You must use this precious silver

To become an honest man

By the witness of the martyrs

By the Passion and the Blood

God has raised you out of darkness

I have bought your soul for God!



And that’s just what Jesus did for us. We were imprisoned by the law, sentenced to eternal death for our sins against God, but while we were still sinners, Jesus rescued us from our accuser, Satan, and offered us even more blessings than we can imagine. He bought our soul for the Father.


The Law condemns; but Jesus gives life.


John understood the parallel when he wrote this Gospel.

Victor Hugo understood it when he wrote Les Miserables.


But for some reason, we often fail to accept it for the gift it is.