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From the DayBreaks archive, 3/11/2005:
Perhaps the biggest problem that the first century Jews had with Jesus was that he wasn’t hard enough. He didn’t chew people out right and left. After all, we only see him throwing out the money changers once, and even though he often “yelled” at the religious leaders, he ate with sinners and tax collectors, partied (in appropriate ways) with prostitutes, touched lepers, talked to women on the streets and at wells, and even let a notorious prostitute who was “caught in the act” get away scott-free in the middle of the public square. Clearly, certainly, he should have switched all this around: the money lenders were helping people to worship by loaning money to buy sacrifices for the temple, touching lepers meant he could contaminate other people, talking to women on the street (especially one who had been married multiple times!) looks bad for any moral teacher, and letting the prostitute go was nothing short of disobedience. Right? Wrong.
Jesus/God has a way of turning everything upside down and inside out. Up becomes down, success becomes failure and failure success, darkness becomes light, right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right. The problem that they had was they couldn’t accept the one who was “full of grace and truth”. They wanted someone who was “full of fire and brimstone”, harkening back to the Old Testament passages about the One to come who would bring judgment and punishment in His hand. What they got instead was Jesus.
Oh, yes. He brought judgment. He showed evil for what it truly is – a heartbreak committed against God. He judged those who thought they were righteous by their own deeds and freed those who knew they were guilty and turned to Him for relief.
“Grace doesn’t sell; you can hardly even give it away, because it works only for losers and no one wants to stand in their line. The world of winners will buy case lots of moral advice, grosses of guilt-edged prohibitions, skids of self-improvement techniques, and whole truckloads of transcendental hot air. But it will not buy free forgiveness because that threatens to let the riffraff into the Supper of the Lamb. And therefore the world of winners is judged already because it will not believe in the name of the only begotten Child who God raised from the dead – in the Loser of God who, in the fullness of his permitting, forgiving love, goes ahead and lays his hands on a bunch of grubby little kids and says, ‘There! That’s what I had in mind!’”
As humans, we are too prideful to admit we can’t do things on our own. And so, like Adam and Eve, we decide to take action on our own, taking matters into our own hands that are far too big and complicated for us to understand. We try to earn our way, reason our way, argue our way or even buy our way – but God doesn’t take any of those options. Grace can’t be sold or everyone would have it. It must be accepted. And then we need to give it away, too.
PRAYER: May we be people who are not only saved by grace, but filled with it, too, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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