Grace, in the magnitude that Jesus offers it, is difficult for me to get my mind around.
The Bible says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” That’s some pretty super-sized grace.
It also tells us in Romans 8:1, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)
Despite the clarity of these statements, it seems difficult for us – for me anyway – to really hang on to just how forgiven I am.
Stories of Grace for Us
Jesus must have known that the amount of grace He offers was going to be hard for me to digest because he tells three stories in quick succession in Luke Chapter 15 trying to paint a word picture about the grace His Father extends.
He made His point three times in a row. Hoping it would sink in.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these three stories and what they say about God’s grace.
1. The Lost Sheep
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ Luke 15:4,6 (NIV)
God is ecstatic when one of His lost sheep comes home. He’s not waiting to punish. No, he’s throwing a party! He’s not holding a grudge. He’s rejoicing!
Is that some big grace or what?
Honestly, I have to put some effort into grasping this. However, when I try, I imagine what it would be like if one of my kids ran away from home and then returned. Would I be celebrating and rejoicing? You bet I would. Would the party be enormous? Absolutely.
It is the same with God. After all, Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Therefore, he celebrates in a big way – full of grace – when one of His sheep hears His voice and returns to His arms.
2. The Lost Coin
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” Luke 15:8
Notice the woman has ten coins and then loses one. My human wisdom (or lack thereof) leads me to think that when I stray off the path again and again, God’s patience with me is stretched. I let the accuser beat me up and weaken me with his lies.
The truth is, when I fall, God is searching for me. He’s concerned about me. He’s not just sitting up on some high perch looking down shaking His head and thinking, “Will he ever get it?”
No, God is actively organizing a giant search and rescue operation to bring me home. He wants me to know that His arms are open wide and He’s anxious to get me back where I belong.
That’s immense grace.
3. The Prodigal Son
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-24
When I think about grace, the story of the lost or prodigal son soon comes to mind. By the way, I looked up the word prodigal for the first time today. It means wasteful.
If you are familiar with the story, then you know the youngest son asks his father for his share of the inheritance and then squanders it all on wild living. Hitting rock bottom, he returns home to beg for forgiveness. The story picks up in the verses above.
It overwhelms me to know that God waits for me and when He sees me (even when I’m still a long way off), He is filled with compassion for me and runs toward me ready to throw His arms around me and kiss me. Eager to start a big party for me!
How much grace does it take to welcome home someone that just wasted a big portion of your estate doing exactly the opposite of what you told him to do? And not just with a handshake and a pat on the back either. God hugs him, kisses him and honors him with a party!
I don’t know about you, but this picture of God’s grace is like I said, overwhelming.
Grace Beyond What You Can Imagine
Jesus told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
What an understatement! Sufficient? It seems like such a mild word for something so big, expansive and all-inclusive.
I am continually astonished at the enormity and completeness of God’s grace that is offered so freely to me (and all of you).
I guess His grace has to be big because He knew the size of my weakness. Thankfully, he had a plan to deal with my shortcomings.
What are your thoughts about grace? Is it something you struggle to comprehend or is it easy for you to accept? Leave a comment and let me know.