Summary: Grace, by definition, is something we do not deserve. This Easter message focuses on four things we can see in the face of Jesus that demonstrate God’s grace.
Grace We Don’t Deserve: The Face of Grace
“Grace,” part 3 of 3
Easter Sunday – March 27, 2005
Wildwind Community Church
I have to start out this morning by saying I know the title of this message is redundant. By definition, grace is unmerited favor – favor that we do not deserve. So literally the title of today’s message is “Favor That We Don’t Deserve That We Don’t Deserve.” Now I realized that the moment I came up with the name, but I did it that way for the very simple reason that I want us to focus specifically on that undeserved part today. Two weeks ago we looked at how grace is something we do not understand. Last week we talked about how grace is something that is hard for us to accept. And today I want to focus on this idea that grace is something we do not, and cannot, deserve.
The easiest way to go at this, I felt, is simply to put a face on grace – to view it in human form – which clearly would be in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is a picture of grace.
Colossians 1:15 (NIV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. In other words, Jesus is the one who takes God’s qualities (which are unseen and unknown to us), and makes them visible – gives them an image we can see and recognize and maybe begin to understand. The image of the invisible God.
We need to start there because Jesus is the physical demonstration of everything we need to know about God. If God is a God of love, we can see God’s love in Jesus. If God is a patient God, we can see God’s patience in Jesus. If God is a God who is willing to suffer on our behalf, then we see that suffering in Jesus. If God is a God who forgives and heals, we can see healing and forgiveness in Jesus. And God is all those things, and we do see all those things in Jesus. Jesus puts a face on all those qualities of God that without Christ we would never see – in fact, that’s kind of the Old Testament picture of God. The Old Testament is full of descriptions of God. It speaks of God as loving, faithful, just, merciful, strong, steady, compassionate, angry (at times), and many other qualities. So for centuries people read the Old Testament and had to make due with written descriptions of God.
But one day God decided he’d told us enough. Telling us wasn’t working – it was time to show us. Time for him to slip into a human body, come down here, and SHOW us what he looks like.
John 1:14 (NIV)
14 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.
Even John’s reference to Jesus as “The Word” hints at what I’m trying to get to today. Jesus is referred to as “The Word” for what reason? I mean, what is YOUR word? Your word is a tangible representation of you, isn’t it? It is through your words that you make known who you are. If you did not speak words, people would have little go on in knowing who you are. Your words express your thoughts, your feelings, your character, your intentions, your commitments, your dreams and ideals, nearly everything about you can be represented by your words.
So Jesus is referred to as The Word. Jesus is The Word of God, in other words he is the expression to us of God’s feelings, God’s character, God’s intentions, God’s commitments to us, God’s dreams and ideals for relating to us. Your words give form to who you are and are representations of you. Without your words, people are making guesses and assumptions as to who you really are. Jesus gives form to who God is and is a representation of him. Without Jesus, we would be making guesses and assumptions as to who God really is. As Paul writes in Colossians, he is the IMAGE of the invisible God.
But there’s our problem, my friends. Jesus is The Word – the imago dei – the image of God – yet many live life in this world as if we can’t know a single thing about who God is. God is a mystery, that’s for sure. But many live as if God is a TOTAL mystery, as if we can’t know how God thinks, or how God feels, or what God desires for our lives. But because of Jesus that’s not true at all. Jesus is the image of God. When Jesus acted certain ways, we can know that’s how God would act. When Jesus said certain things, we can know that’s what God would say. When Jesus said…