Seeing Jesus isn’t to most of us a most practical aspiration towards growth in our life. And I don’t mean just for non-believers, but for Christians too.
We open our Bibles to see how God’s Word applies to us. What God wants us to do. How God wants us to behave. And if we are more New Covenant-minded, who God has called us to be, how He sees us, and what we possess as children and heirs.
Nothing wrong with all of this, by the way. If we understand and divide the Word rightly as New Covenant believers, we will be secure knowing that God wants us to daily walk by faith as the righteous, healed, and victorious in Christ, and live out of these truths.
Those of us who like to go a little deeper into studying the original Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures find joy and excitement too when we uncover truths that point back to God’s central message of His gospel of grace,
But there’s a difference between knowing grace and actually living in grace.
I found this out (not for the first time, I might add) during a particularly intense “discussion” with my darling spouse.
We seemed to be going in circles. The same issues kept surfacing again and again. I had told him what I wanted, as I thought wives were meant to tell their husbands (you know, to help them along). But the more I coached and needled, the worse he did. And even when he did manage to do what I wanted, it didn’t satisfy.
It got to the point where I blurted, “If I’ve told you what I want and you know what I want, why doesn’t it ever seem to work?”
Even before he answered I knew, as the question left my lips. It was the law. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, my ‘preferences’ that I’d uttered became a requirement in my mind, and was received as such. Law breeds expectation, which guarantees a failure to meet or satisfy that expectation, and consequently guarantees frustration.
Some of you reading this might be aghast at the hypocrisy of someone writing and sharing about grace to still be applying the law in their life, and write off this blog as a sham. But that’s just the point.
Simply knowing and understanding grace, or even teaching grace, doesn’t translate to living in grace.
Those who preach and teach grace aren’t those who have arrived. In fact, they need grace and the preaching of it just as much as the next person, if not more.
And the preaching of grace isn’t only uncovering what grace is and what it isn’t, or even to extol and advocate it. Above all else, it is revealing and seeing Jesus. It is talking about Jesus.
As the saying goes, ‘Show, don’t tell’. And for good reason.
Because while talking and learning about grace and differentiating between the New Covenant of grace versus the Old Covenant of the law is important in setting the foundation, it doesn’t bring us from knowing about grace to living in grace. Seeing Jesus does.
Which brings us back to where we began. Why seeing Jesus, you might ask?
Because grace isn’t a subject for us to learn and understand. It is a Person for us to know and see intimately.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
Some verses earlier, the book of John begins by describing “the Word” as a Person – that the Word was with God, and was God, and then became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:1, 14).
The Word of God is Jesus Himself. And He is full of grace and truth. (We have explained in other posts such as this one that grace and truth are one and on the same side.)
When we read the Bible, we need to realise that we are not just reading words in a Book or even just “God’s Word”. We are actually seeing Jesus, who is the Word of God.
Because God Himself emphasises in telling us that Jesus is full of grace and truth – separate from the law, which was a side agenda given by the servant Moses – we know then that it is when we see grace and the truth of God’s grace revealed in the Word that we are really seeing Jesus.
Grace is a Person. His name is Jesus.
Therefore the more we are seeing Jesus in the Bible, the more we are seeing and learning grace. Because they are one and the same.
Please know that we’re not talking about seeing Jesus as an example for us to learn grace.
We’re talking about simply seeing Jesus in all His excellencies and loveliness. To just be seeing Him, apart from any consideration of us.
How does simply seeing Jesus help us learn and live in grace better than us trying to understand, discuss and apply grace as a doctrine?
The Bible itself tells us:
Behold, the days will come, says the Lord, when I will make and ratify a new covenant…: I will imprint My laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
And it will nevermore be necessary for each one to teach his neighbor and his fellow citizen or each one his brother, saying, Know (perceive, have knowledge of, and get acquainted by experience with) the Lord, for all will know Me, from the smallest to the greatest of them.
For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more. (Hebrews 8:8-12, AMPC, quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Under the New Covenant, God promises that He will lead us from within, and that none shall need to teach his neighbour to know Him, for all will, through a revelation of God’s mercy and grace in remembering our sins no more because of what Jesus did.
Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mercy and grace. He is also the embodiment of God’s righteousness and justice, having fulfilled the law and paid the price for our sins at the cross. Seeing Jesus is seeing both God’s grace and the basis for that grace.
The grace of God Titus refers to that brings salvation and who has appeared (before) is none other than Jesus. The word “appear” means seeing happens.
It is in seeing Jesus that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, zealous for good works, remembering how He gave Himself for us, while we await His second appearance (Second Coming).
Seeing Jesus is what teaches us. We don’t need to teach one another. It sounds almost incomprehensibly simple, but that’s how God ordained it.
Which is why this year, we want to be simply showing and seeing Jesus more in our posts, beyond discussing grace. To be seeing Jesus in His beauty and glory, not just in His finished work at the cross, but in His every speech and act, in the types of the Old Testament and the parables of the New.
Because that’s what will grow us: not just to live godly, but also to live in grace.
To be living in grace is more than just being less demanding and more gracious and forgiving of others. It is also being less demanding and more forgiving of ourselves.
It’s not being bothered with how much or how little you have done. Nor feeling good when you do right or bad when you mess up, not even when you find yourself exacting demands on your spouse yet again.
It’s being at rest and comfortable wherever you are, at whatever point your life may be, knowing that His all-encompassing grace surrounds and abounds upon you, and will carry you through, making everything beautiful in its time.
Living in grace can sometimes seem elusive and impossible. But it can be as easy and effortless as seeing Jesus.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.