BY PAUL DUNK
In short, the life of Christ is perfect justice and perfect grace on display.
That sounds amazing, but when you look at it, it's disconcerting because it appears that Jesus keeps giving God's best to the worst people. Repeatedly.
Grace, as Paul spoke about it in his letters, looks like this: Christ upholds and fulfills God's law perfectly for you and then His grace and mercy is extended toward you and it's entirely in spite of you.
In the 15th century there was a monk in a monastery, killing himself to earn God's grace and keep his salvation when he rediscovered Paul's theology of justification in the letter he wrote to Galatia.
Another way of thinking about the counter intuitive nature of God's grace is as follows,
As you work your way through the epistles to the churches in the New Testament, you find that maturity in the Christian life is counter intuitive. As opposed to saying "thank you" for grace and then proceeding to keep God's law through human effort, the same grace that saved you, sustains you and teaches you. In other words, only the power of God's grace can produce the desire to keep His law.
Consider this. In Matthew 7, Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. As you work through the sermon, you find the standards impossibly high and by the conclusion you have two options:
1. Put all your chips on Jesus.
2, Try harder to keep God's perfect law.
In Matthew 8, there is a radical shift in Jesus ministry from teaching to healing. Right after articulating what God requires from people, He walks down the mountain and lavishes grace on the wrong people. The outcast. The sinner. The undeserving. Us.
In fact, the first three healing miracles of Christ showcase the radical pattern of how God's grace comes to us...
He heals a leper who is outcast because of his physical condition. Jesus crosses physical barriers and makes the unclean - clean. We are the leper: created in grace, broken by sin, restored by grace.
He heals a centurion’s servant who is outcast because of his ethnic position. Jesus crosses ethnic barriers and makes the unclean - clean. We are the centurion: created in grace, ostracized by sin, restored by grace.
He heals Peter's mother in law who is outcast because of her social condition. Jesus crosses social barriers and makes the unclean - clean. We are the mother-in-law: created in grace, cast aside because of sin, restored by grace.
Signs point. I strongly encourage you not to obsess over miracles and vow not to rest until you get one. Rather, look at where all the signs are pointing and find your rest there: Christ alone.
You couldn't touch a Rabbi - you'd make him unclean.
You couldn't touch the Holy of Holies - you'd make the temple unclean.
Jesus went around touching the unclean and made them clean.
You don't clean yourself up and come to Jesus. You don't clean yourself up and come to church. Christ makes the unclean - clean. Look to Christ and find grace on display. Jesus keeps giving God's best to the worst people. Repeatedly.
Now having been given this great grace - may we be like small children who, having been given a great gift - run off to enjoy it, living to the glory of the One who has made the unclean everyone... clean.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.