The difference between the law and grace: The law condemns: you are guilty, and you must pay! But grace forgives: yes, you are guilty, but I forgive you, and I won’t give you what you deserve. Like Jean Valjean, we all deserve punishment. We have all sinned and broken God’s law. We deserve death, but grace forgives. God says, “No, my son paid the price for your sins to be forgiven. I’ll give you life and forgiveness. I’ll adopt you into my very family.” That’s grace!
JESUS: FRIEND OF SINNERS:
When Jesus came into the world some almost two thousand years ago, He proclaimed a message of grace and peace everywhere He went. Good news. He earned a reputation from the religious leaders of His day as a ‘friend of sinners’. They mean that an insult, but Jesus didn’t care what people thought of Him. He extended love, acceptance and forgiveness to everyone. The religious leaders, the legalist Pharisees, only cared about the law. Here is one of the many confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees – between grace and the law:
“Now early in the morning Jesus came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:2-11).
The legalists said, “The law says she must be punished. What do you say?” Jesus said, “Whichever one of you has never sinned can throw the first stone.” But one by one, the accusers dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus was the only one person in the crowd who had never sinned, and He was the only one who could have cast those stones at her to execute the law. But instead, Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you.” That is grace! That is what God freely offers to every one of us because of Jesus. It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been or how many terrible things you’ve done, God has one relentless stance towards you: GRACE. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Eph. 2:4-5).
How should we respond to the grace of God? If you’re looking for a way to put this message of grace into practice, let me make it real simple for you: W.W.J.D: What Would Jesus Do? In the same way that we sin and disobey God, people are going to hurt and offend us, too. When that happens, we can choose to respond one of two ways. One is law: justice, revenge, punishment! Or we can be like Jesus and extend grace: love, acceptance, forgiveness. God is so good and gracious, let’s extend grace to everyone we meet, amen?
To download a free, printable version of this e-book, Good News for Ragamuffins and Les Miserables, click HERE.
Pastor Chris Jordan