Summary: Don’t look at me, look at Jesus. He was full of grace. He was full of truth.
Don’t Look at Me, Look at Him
Pastor Jim Luthy
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children not born of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.
John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
We have to understand the life of Jesus. In that life we find light. For this purpose, we will begin “A Long Walk with Jesus,” a fifteen month journey through the gospels studying the life of Christ. As we walk with him, closely examining his life, I trust that we will understand his life and not only receive his light, but understand it.
John said that the light shined into the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The darkness to which John referred was not a godless or atheistic culture. It was the Jewish culture, a religious people, God’s chosen ones, who were in the dark and unable to receive or understand the light.
Could it be that the life of Jesus is shining into the church but darkness in the church has made us unable to understand him? When I visit other churches, I am like to hear the teachings of Jesus that make people feel better—“there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ,” “blessed are the peacemakers,” and “God so loved the world…” These things are true, but they are not the whole gospel. The light of Christ makes demands on our lives, just as the glory of Jesus Paul encountered demanded change in him. Either we do not understand those demands or we shape them to fit our desires or dismiss them altogether. Very seldom can you walk into a church that is contemplating Jesus’ teaching that we must lose our lives to find them or that those who are not faithful with what they have been entrusted will be cast aside to where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. How can we, in our limited thinking, understand such hard sayings authored by a God who loves us so much? Our best answer requires us to avoid such difficult passages altogether. I think it is entirely possible that Jesus is the light who has come into the world and we have not understood him much better than the religious people who were in the dark in Jesus’ day.
This is why darkness remains. Jesus comes full of grace and truth. If we understand Jesus’ grace but neglect the truth, then we remain in the dark with a love-oriented, feel good Christianity that is filled with lies about the demands of the cross. If we focus on truth but have no grace, however, we are just a clanging symbol or a resounding gong. Again, we remain in the dark with a condemning tone that is absent of the expression of the love and grace of God.
When Tammie and I first moved to Gresham, I was all about grace. I had just had my eyes opened to the legalistic teaching we had been embracing and was deeply impacted by Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Yancey hit the nail on the head in the manner by which he brought to light the Scriptures and the love-hate relationship between the church and the world. He pointed out that many people don’t want anything to do with the church because of the judgment and condemnation that is expressed to the world. Too often we fail to communicate the message of grace. When I came to Gresham, I was convinced that we would make that message of grace clear to the people we were reaching out to.