Summary: God's grace covers us all.
Sunday Night: Grace Upon Grace
Text: John 1.6-18
CT: God’s grace covers us all.
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln's army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him:
"My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it …. Liberty is your birthright."
But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. "Let the world see that you merit [your freedom]," Lincoln said, "Don't let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them."
That is very much like the message Jesus gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection. Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn't an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis for learning and obeying God's laws.
James L. Swanson, Bloody Crimes (William Morrow, 2010), p.46; submitted by Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois
Do you see where Jesus has given you freedom? You came in here tonight free to worship him. You came in here free to open the Bible and learn from it? Your spiritual freedom comes from Jesus even if you couldn’t be here tonight. No man can take your freedom to choose your spiritual choices. They are completely granted to you by Jesus. Let’s go to the Bible.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 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.
15 (John testified concerning him. 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.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 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.
WE have been given grace upon grace.
Why did Jesus put on human flesh and enter our world? It is because of his great love for us. How much does He love us? He loves us so much that He put human flesh around his eternal glory and entered our world. He left the splendor and majesty of heaven to enter the demeaning environment of a cattle trough in Bethlehem to pursue us.
If you ever doubt his love for you remember the cradle he was born in. It is the evidence that he is pursuing you. He desired to give you a new spiritual birth. He came to make you a child of the King of the universe. That’s why he came.
The Father knew the best way to communicate with a bird was to become a bird. And the best way God could talk and interact with humans was to become a human. So the father asked the Son to put on human flesh around his glory and become one of us. Through Jesus you can know the true God and who He is. You can understand his eternal plan for your life.
Christmas is about receiving presents, but consider how challenging it is to receive certain kinds of gifts. Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend … and it's a dieting book. Then you take off another ribbon and wrapper and you find it is another book from another friend, Overcoming Selfishness. If you say to them "Thank you so much," you are in a sense admitting, "For indeed I am [overweight] and obnoxious."