Andy Stanley - Undeserveable
Now I know I'm naive to wonder this and you can criticize me for this later because I'm just owning the fact that this is kind of a naive, simplistic thought. But I don't know why everybody wouldn't want Christianity to be true. Maybe not the version other people grew up with or maybe not the version that you grew up with. Maybe not Christianity the way we've made it or what we've turned it into, but I don't know why everybody wouldn't want the original version to be true. Jesus irresistible version to be true. Because and you know this, but I'll just state the obvious.
There's a big difference between I don't believe it's true and perhaps you don't believe the message of Jesus or the story of Jesus is true. I get that, but there's a big difference between I don't believe it's true, I don't believe it's true. Sometimes people just need more information. Sometimes they need more evidence. Sometimes they need to have a difficult question answered. Sometimes there's something they need to read or see or a story they need to hear. So I get that. But there's a big difference between I don't believe it's true and I don't want it to be true.
And I don't understand when people are confronted with the original version of Jesus and the claims of Jesus and the life of Jesus why they wouldn't at least want it be true. They may never, you may never get to the point where you can actually believe it's true because of, I prefer reasons, things that I don't understand. But when you hear the gospel presented or when you hear the life of Jesus explained or when you immerse yourself in the 1st century content, I just don't know why everybody wouldn't want it to be true.
Blaise Pascal, 17th century mathematician, philosopher. He was actually homeschooled, plug for those of you who homeschool. He wrote this. He said, People, almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, and this is so true. This explains some of the conversations you have in your home with your middle schoolers and your high school students. People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive. In other words, when something is attractive to us, we go looking for reasons to substantiate our belief.
Now he's not saying, If something's attractive, therefore it's true, and I'm not arguing if something's attractive, therefore it's true. And I'm certainly not arguing, Hey, since Christianity is attractive, it's true. That's not my point. My point is this. Christianity, in its earliest original form, was so extraordinarily attractive that I don't understand why people in modern times wouldn't want it to be true even if intellectually they can't actually get there, because Jesus was attractive. People were attracted to Jesus. Early Christianity was attractive, so attractive that eventually it became the predominant philosophy and religions and worldview of the Roman Empire. Christianity has shaped Western culture.
There was something so attractive about it. And the thing that makes Christianity so attractive, at least the original version, is a single word. It's the word that makes me want it to be true. But perhaps it's a word that wasn't in the equation for you. And the word is grace. It's grace. Grace is what we, this what we all have in common. Grace is what we crave most when our guilt is exposed, right? You come home late. Your parents are sitting there. They've got the stuff on the table. They know it's yours. There's no excuses, there's no loopholes. There's no point in saying, It's my sister's. I don't know, you know that. We found it in your room.
I mean, you are just, you are so busted and in that moment, you're thinking about all the things they could take away and should take away. And in that moment, what you crave is you don't know, you didn't know the word maybe in high school or middle school or college but it was grace. Or you come home late and your wife's waiting up. You come home late and your husband's waiting up. You come home late and it's your kids who are waiting up. Or your boss walks in and sits down and boom, lays it out there and you realize there's no excuse, there's no point in making excuses, there's no loopholes, there's no one to blame. It's just there. There it is. And in that moment, even if maybe you don't, you didn't think of the word, what you're looking for is grace. You're looking for someone to give something to you or extend something to you that you know you don't deserve.
Grace is, at the same time, this is the flip side. This is why there's so much tension. Grace is what we're hesitant to extend when confronted with the guilt of other people, especially when they've hurt me or even more so, when they've hurt someone I love. And therein lies the tension. That grace, when we're on the receiving end, is extraordinarily refreshing. But grace, when it's required of us, is extraordinarily disturbing. It is in fact, as we're gonna see, as you think about how this settles in on your relationships, your good ones and your bad ones and the ones that you're trying to repair or the relationship that someone's trying to repair with you, that grace really is the unsettling solution for just about everything.
Now if you grew up in church, you may have been given a definition for grace or maybe you know what grace is but you've never thought of a definition. So, here's our definition for the next few weeks. It's simply undeserved, unearned, unearnable favor. It's someone leaning in your direction when they should lean away. It's someone that you know you should pursue because you've hurt them and they actually initiate the conversation. But grace is strange. You can no more deserve grace than you can plan your own surprise party, right? I mean, if you plan your own surprise party, the fact that you planned it voids the surprise. And the moment you think you deserve grace, you've actually voided the grace. You could ask for grace. You could beg for grace. You could plead with someone to extend grace to you, but the minute you think you deserve it, it's no longer grace.
And then here's the additional twist to the whole conversation. We can't recognize, this is so important for many of us. We can't recognize or receive grace for what it actually is until we're convinced we don't deserve it. You can't even recognize or experience grace for what it is until you come to the place and I come to the place that I actually don't deserve it. It can only be experienced within the context of a relationship. Grace is purely relational. It's always tied to a relationship. It can only be experienced in the context of a relationship, ready for this? Where there is an imbalance and you are on the negative side of the ledger because of your behavior.
And this, my friends, this is what makes Christianity so unique. This is what makes the story and the narrative of Christianity and the arc of the story of Christianity so unique and so attractive. This is the reason that even if you never get to the place intellectually where you can believe it's true, this is why everybody should want it to be true. And this is why God had to show up. Because grace is 100% relational and you can't experience or understand grace apart from a relationship. This is why God had to show up. This is why we celebrate the way we do at Christmas. We would have never known the grace of God without and apart from the presence of God. For God's grace to be seen, for God's grace to be known, there had to be a person. It had to be personal. It is the message of Christmas.
Now, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the four, the gospel writer John who also wrote three letters in the 1st century called, not very creative, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. John, who was a disciple of Jesus. John, who saw the entire thing. John, who lives to be an old man. We talk about him all the time. He outlived Peter and Andrew. He outlived James, the brother of Jesus. John is an old man. He probably outlived all of his friends. With hindsight, looking back, decides, Hey, I need to get my story out.
So he sits down with someone and he probably dictated this. Jesus' earliest apostles or followers were probably illiterate men for the most part so consequently sometimes we're criticized as Christians, there's no way that ignorant Galileans could have given us that kind of Greek literature. Well hello, they probably didn't write it. They probably dictated it and every scribe in the 1st century could speak at least two or maybe three languages. So John is an old man, no doubt sits down and the Christians around him are saying, John, we gotta hear your story. You're an old man. We don't know how much longer you're gonna be with us. Tell us your story.
And I can just imagine John as he begins trying to figure out where do you begin this epic tale that's true? How do I make this so realistic that people will believe and yet it's so fantastic, it will be hard for people to believe? And so John begins his account of the life of Jesus this way and he goes right to the heart of what Christmas is about. He goes right to the heart of what grace is about. He says this. The Word, the Greek word is Logos. The Word became flesh. This was his way of saying, I don't know how to describe it. Please don't ask me to give you any details. All I know is this. God inhabited a body. God came to earth. I know it's hard to believe but I'm just getting started. God became flesh and He dwelled, He made His dwelling among us. The explanation for all things took up residence among us.
And then he says this. And we, and when he says we, he's not talking about you we or me we or even we we. He's talking about Him we, okay? He's saying, Look, this isn't something I heard about. This isn't something I read about. This isn't a story that I'm passing along to you. We, we as in Peter and Andrew and James and all the other apostles and dozens and dozens and hundreds of other men and women, we have seen. We didn't hear about it, we didn't read about it. This is why I'm dictating this so that you'll know. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son.
Again, don't ask me to explain it, John would say. All I know is this, God is our Father and Jesus, He's the unique Son who came into this earth to represent the presence of God and to explain to us what God is really like. Who came from the Father and then here's kind of the punchline that he's gonna drag out throughout his entire gospel. Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Not the balance of grace and truth. That's what we try to pull off. Not the balance of. When any time you try to balance grace and truth, you lose some grace and you lose some truth. Jesus was full on grace and full on truth. Jesus brought, Jesus brought a full dose of grace and truth.
This is so powerful because you're on one side or the other of the ledger. Some of you who are truth people, some of you who are grace people, this is why two people have to get married because we need some grace and truth or our kids will be crazy. This is why some of you are crazy 'cause both of your parents were grace or both of them were truth. We need a little grace. We need a little truth. Some of you were raised going to grace churches. Some of you grew up going to truth churches and you didn't get enough grace or you didn't get enough truth. Jesus shows up and He is full on grace and He is full on truth. Jesus never watered down the truth and He never turned down the grace.
It's amazing. He called sin sin. He called sinners sinners and then He laid down His life for the sinners and paid for their sin. He was all grace, all truth all the time and John saw this and he saw this with people. And it's what led John, as an old man, to finally pen these words or dictate these words that would change Western civilization. That would shape the way that just about everybody in the world views God. This was an idea that had never been introduced to the human race until John was the first one to say it and someone wrote it and as crazy as it sounded in the 1st century when the world was upside down and all of his friends had been martyred, executed or were lost, John is the one that brings us this idea that God is love and the reason John could conclude that God is love is because Jesus was love in a body because Jesus was full on grace and truth.
And love, if you're a good parent, you know this. Love, if you were raised by good parents, you know this. Love is grace and truth. Love is all grace and all truth all the time. John was there that very awkward afternoon when Jesus and His apostles and the crowds that followed Jesus everywhere went through an intersection. They had to stop and face down a tax gatherer. And after they did their business, Jesus leans in and He says, Levi, or Matthew, Hey, I want you to follow Me. To and all the apostles with Him were like, No, not, he's a tax guy. He's a traitor. I mean, even his family won't have him over for holidays. What do you mean? He's not gonna be a part of our thing.
Matthew, I want you to follow Me and there's no indication that Matthew decided not to be a tax gatherer anymore. He just got up and had one of his subordinates take over whatever he was doing and he decided to follow Jesus. And Peter and all the guys are stepping back like, This is not gonna go well for us, okay? We're gonna lose the crowd. And Matthew says, Okay, I'll follow You. Where are we going? And then Jesus said something that offended everybody and that could hear. He said, Matthew, we're gonna go to your house. Peter's like, Well, I'm not gonna go to his house. Jesus said, Yes, you are, 'cause you're following Me too. We're all going to his house. Wait a minute, wait a minute. He's a tax gatherer. You haven't even asked him to repent. You haven't even asked him to give back the money he's stolen. You're just gonna ask him to follow us just like that and go to your house? Yeah. This is the most awkward moment ever.
They go to his house and Matthew invites his tax gatherer friends because Jesus says, I want to have a dinner. I want you to invite your friends. And Matthew's thinking, Okay, You're not gonna like my friends, because my friends are nothing like You and You're nothing like my friends and they're not gonna like You and You're not gonna like them. And he invites his friends. We don't know how long this took. This may have been the next day for all we know. We don't know. But he gathers all of his friends and all of his friends are all the wrong people.
And then there sits Peter with a bad attitude and Andrew's with a bad attitude. They're all, it's so weird. It would be, and it's not a very good party. It would be like this. It would be like you being in a social setting, maybe out with friends at a restaurant or maybe you're having a party or an office party or whatever, and everybody has drank just a little bit too much and I walk in. Why are you laughing? And it's like downer. We like him on Sunday. We don't like him on Saturday night. So it's like, how long are he and Sandra gonna stay? I don't know, they'll leave pretty soon. Soon as we left, it's okay, let's get back to, right? That's how this was.
So there's Jesus the rabbi in the house of Matthew, the tax gatherer. The whole thing is so ridiculously awkward and unsettling because that's the nature of grace. It is the unsettling solution to just about everything but it is unsettling. And when the Pharisees, the Pharisees are the protectors of the truth. They walk around like this so their hands don't dirty. They step around things. They don't want to touch anybody who's dirty and they don't want to become ceremonially unclean. They represent God to the people but if God's anything like that, I'm not sure I want to go to heaven. That's kind of the thought in the 1st century with some of the religious leaders.
When the Pharisees saw this 'cause they weren't invited and they wouldn't have gone anyway. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples. Send a message into the house, 'cause they weren't gonna go. He said, Go inside and ask your teacher, Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners? He should be eating, if He's a rabbi, if He's a representative of God, he should be eating with us. So they go in and I'm sure whoever delivered the message delivered it out loud so Matthew and his friends could hear to shame them. My friend, the Pharisees outside, the leaders from the temple have come and Jesus, they want to know and announce it, Why are You here eating with this rabble? Why are You here with tax gatherers and sinners?
And then Jesus, I think, answers equally as loud. He says, On hearing this, Jesus said, Don't call Matthew and his friends sinners. That may hurt their feelings. They may raise your taxes. No. Jesus makes an awkward situation even more awkward. He does that grace truth thing that He would do throughout His time on earth. He's at Matthew's house, He's invited Matthew to follow Him and then Jesus says out loud, I'm sure within the hearing of everybody who was very quiet at this moment. On hearing this, Jesus actually said, Tell the guys outside, It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
Matthew's thinking, wait wait wait wait. Jesus, I mean, You're my guest. Are You saying I'm sick? To which Jesus would have said, Yes. You're stealing from your people. You're sick. But I still want you to follow Me. It's like, What? Wait wait, yes, Matthew, you're sick, that's why I'm here. All of you friend, these are tax gatherers and sinners. Sinners, you have your own category 'cause you don't even be tax gatherers. I mean, you guys are the worst of the worst. Thanks for inviting Me over. Would you follow Me? It's like, No no no, wait. See, you've messed up all the categories. If you want somebody to follow you, you should ask people who are like you to follow you. You don't ask people who are unlike you to follow you unless they decide they're gonna be like you. You've asked someone who's nothing like you to follow you. This is, you're messing up all the categories.
And I think Jesus would just smile. And He said, Oh yeah, by the way, tell the Pharisees outside the following. Tell them this, and this was so offensive. Go and learn. Whenever you tell the smartest person in the world, in the room to go and learn, you've offended them. What you've said is, You're so smart. I'm smarter. You need to go learn something you don't know that I know. So this was Jesus, I think everybody in the room chuckled 'cause they knew this was such a dig at the learned, the teachers of the law. Tell the Pharisees to go and learn what this means. And then He quotes from their own scripture, the Law and the Prophets that they're supposed to be the experts in. Go tell them to learn what this means, I desire mercy not sacrifice, for I have not come to call the righteous.
Then perhaps He swept His hand around the room and said, But sinners. I'm not afraid to call a sinner a sinner and I'm not afraid to go to their house for dinner. We should just probably all say that together. I'm not afraid to call a sinner a? Sinner. And I'm not afraid to go to their house for dinner. So when I show up at your party, I expect you to greet me warm, no. And please don't leave here saying, Andy, he equated himself with Jesus. My children would tell you different. Then one day and again, this is one of these emotional stories you've all heard it. In fact, you don't have even grow, have grown up in church. You know this story. But we can't, the emotion is impossible for me to even convey it because I can't even get my mind around it.
One day Jesus goes up to the southern steps to the temple mount. This is the epicenter of the presence of God. This is the Holy of Holies. This is the holiest place on the planet. This is the place that when the temple or when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, this was the last stronghold of the Jews because we can't let them take the temple. This is, there's no way to even, for the way we think, us Westerners, there's no way to even ascribe the value to the temple mount that these 1st century Jews ascribed to this piece of real estate. I mean, right over there is the altar and animals are being sacrificed.
And right over there is the Holy of Holies that houses God's Word and here we are on the temple mount and Jesus is there, which always made everybody nervous. And He's teaching and they drag a woman up to Him and throw her down in front of His feet. John is the one who includes this story in his gospel. And apparently they held her all night, waiting for this moment and they're like, No no no, not yet, not yet. Let's wait till He gets on the temple, let's wait till He gets all the way up next to the Holy of Holies and then we'll see what He's gonna do. And they drag this woman up, you've heard this story. They throw her down. They say, Jesus, this woman was caught in adultery and the Law, which is like right over there, like, we could go see it if you don't believe us, the Law says she must die, she must be executed, she must be stoned to death.
And Jesus is so brilliant. That's why I don't think people made these stories up. It's so brilliant. Jesus says, Okay. Well you are the experts in the Law. Stone her. He knows that, He calls their bluff. They're not gonna stone her right there on the temple mount. She's terrified. Imagine, she's terrified. No mercy, no love, no compassion. No hey, tell me your story. No what's your background. She's terrified. Then Jesus does that cool thing. He says, All right, you guys start. And oh yeah, one thing. Why don't we start with the person who doesn't have any sin? You go first. And then He kneels down and He starts writing in the sand.
And scholars, if you want to read something interesting, scholars, biblical scholars, they love to imagine what Jesus was writing in the sand. He's drawing in the sand. I think He was writing, It takes one to know one. In Aramaic, okay? I don't know what He was drawing in the sand but He stoops down. And finally, the youngest, the oldest guys in the crowd were like, Agh, got us again. They grabbing the young guys by the, nah nah nah, don't. No no no, this isn't gonna go well. And they all leave. And the woman of course is like oh. And then Jesus ruins the moment. He leans down and looks into her eyes and He says, Leave your life of sin. Not, hey you're fine. You had a tough upbringing. I know your dad, I know, I know everything. Just, you're gonna be okay. No no, I mean, leave your life of sin.
See, grace and truth. You are guilty but I don't condemn you. You're like, wait, what? And wait, if I'm guilty, you're to condemn me. No, I know you're guilty but I don't condemn you. Wait, if I'm innocent, you don't condemn me. If I'm guilty, you condemn me. How can I be guilty and you don't condemn me? Isn't it either or? Isn't it the other way around? No, it used to be, but see in this moment, for your benefit, for your benefit, for your benefit, for my benefit, grace has touched down. There is a new lawgiver. There is a new covenant maker. There is a new representative of God the Father and He was all grace, all truth all the time and over and over, this is why even if you never get there intellectually, you should want this to be true.
Over and over, Jesus leaned in toward pre-repentant, guilty people and invited them to follow Him. Over and over, He leaned into people who had not acknowledged their sin and initiated relationship and said, Follow Me. And then John was there at the very end. We know he was there at the very end because at the very end of Jesus' life He says to John who brought us so much of this. He said, John, My mother, Mary, is like your mother. That was His way of saying, Care for My mother.
And in fact, things were so difficult in Judea and so difficult in Galilee that tradition tells us that John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, and they went to Ephesus. And if you visit Ephesus today, they will show you where they believe that John took care of Mary, the mother of Jesus, until she finally left this life. So we know he was there. And when Jesus was crucified, John witnessed the ultimate expression of grace. This was the most unsettling expression of grace at all. This was the moment that put amazing in grace. Here's what he saw. The text tells us that there were two men crucified along with Jesus. Both of them were criminals. They were led out with Him to be executed. 1st century religion and 1st century politicians decided they had to get rid of grace and truth in a body. It is so uncomfortable, isn't it?
The text continues. When they came to the place called the Skull, or Golgotha, they crucified Him there. And as we've said before, there's no detail given because everyone who heard this had seen it, smelled it, seen the aftermath of a crucifixion. There was no reason to give details. None were necessary. Along with the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. And then here's one of those phrases that if you read the New Testament, you read right by it, but this is horrifying. This is so disgusting and yet this is you, this is me because this is what we do, isn't it? This is a detail that reminds me that John is not writing a fantasy. This isn't a once upon a time in a village far far away. This is what he saw.
And as he dictates his story, he says, and it was horrible because a crowd gathered and the people stood and they watched. And the rulers even sneered. And they said to Jesus and each other, He saved others. Let Him save Himself if He's supposedly God's Messiah, the Chosen One, because they understood that this is what He either claimed for Himself or the people closest to Him claimed for Him. And then one of the criminals, one of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Jesus. He was gonna take his venom, he was gonna take his vengeance, he was gonna take his anger all the way to death with him, but the other criminal rebuked him and he said the most interesting thing.
And I believe that these statements weren't together in a nice neat paragraph with a period at the end. Because what we understand about crucifixion, there may have been multiple seconds or maybe even minutes between each of these utterances. Because you had to build up an extraordinary amount of nerve to raise yourself up to take it, to inhale and to speak was terribly painful, and to breath was terribly painful. And he says, Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished, this is amazing, justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man, who they knew, had heard of, has done nothing wrong.
In other words, if the kingdom of heaven is reserved for good people, if the kingdom of heaven is reserved for righteous people, if the kingdom of heaven is reserved for people who get it right every time, his acknowledgement was, we have no hope and no chance. His only hope was what he deserved the least. Something he had extended very little of to other people during his life. So in an act of desperation, Jesus, he says, when You come to Your kingdom, because there's no doubt in my mind that where You're going is different from where we're going. Jesus, there's no doubt in my mind that You are a King. Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, would You remember me? To which the people in the audience who could overhear these whispered conversations from the cross had to think, why? I mean, why, I mean, what a ridiculous thing to ask. I mean, is he repenting? I mean, repenting from a cross is meaningless, right?
Re-dedication, you know? From now on. Hey from now's about 30 minutes, okay? There's no point in rededicating. There's no way to make restitution. There's no way to do anything good for the rest of your meaningless, despicable little life. There's nothing to promise, there's nothing to offer. You have no bargaining power with man or God. And then in this moment, Jesus disturbs the order of things. Jesus introduces that unsettling thing that His followers were so accustomed to but never did they imagine in their wildest dreams that He would take it to this extreme. He interferes with this man's karma and He does the unthinkable. He listened and He responded. Jesus, the text says, answered him.
Let me ask you a question. Does God hear the prayers of sinners? Yes, those are the only kinds of prayers there are. Jesus answered him, but why even acknowledge him? Every word cost Jesus dearly. Ever breath was combined with or associated with excruciating pain. But He answers anyway. And do you know why? Because that's what grace does. Grace answers anyway. Truly I tell you, Jesus said. Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me, exhale. And the criminal thought, That's the problem. I'm with You here. In paradise. Holiness with human hands promised a man who had done nothing good and had nothing good to offer. Holiness with human hands offered a man who had no bargaining power this promise. Where I'm going, you're going. He grants a last minute request. He grants a request to a last minute convert.
He grants a request that essentially says, You are gonna have the same eternity as Stephen, who will later be stoned because of his faith in Me. You're gonna have the same eternity as Peter, who followed Me these last three and a half years. And why? Why would Jesus do this? I think this was mind-boggling to John and to Peter and the other men in the crowd. I mean, how? I mean, we've, the woman in adultery, that's one thing. I mean, asking Matthew to follow is one thing. This is like a whole another thing, why? And here's what I want you to hear if you don't hear anything else I say today. Because like life, grace is not fair. Like life, grace is not fair. It is better than fair. It is disturbingly better than fair. It is unsettlingly better than fair. I mean, Jesus will continue this.
After His resurrection, this is unbelievable if you know the narrative. After the resurrection, Jesus pulls Peter aside and Peter is overcome with shame and guilt. I mean, when Jesus was arrested, Peter fled. When he was asked, Do you even know who Jesus is? Peter denies even knowing Jesus and Jesus pulls Peter aside and says, Peter, I'm putting you in charge with the whole thing. Nobody was less deserving. Very soon after that, maybe a few months after that or a year after that, Jesus recruits Saul of Tarsus who was trying to dismantle and destroy the entire Jesus movement. And Jesus recruits Saul of Tarsus. Calls him Paul. We know him as the Apostle Paul. And He allowed him to write about half the New Testament. Why? This was Jesus' way of saying over and over and over that I am the person who brings grace and truth, not in half measure. Not the mix of, not the blend of. Full on grace, full on truth. I'm all grace and all truth all the time because that's what love is and I am love personified.
Now, your pushback on this, we'll talk about this next week, so don't miss next time. Your pushback on this and my pushback on this is simple. This is why it's so unsettling. Wait, did Jesus not, I mean, those are cool stories, Andy, and you've made it emotional. I get all that. But hey, was Jesus not concerned about justice? And was Jesus not concerned about consequences? No, that's not the issue. Jesus knew better than anyone about justice and consequences. You know what He knew? He knew that God's justice would crush us because all have sinned and nobody can pay God back. And Jesus wasn't unaware of consequences. He knew better than anybody that consequences, the consequences of sin, were already crushing us because every single sin, every single sin, whether you believe in sin or not. Whether you believe in New Testament sin or not, regardless of how you view the world, every single sin, and if you've lived, if you're an adult, you've experienced this.
Maybe you didn't use these words. Every single sin comes pre-packaged with a gotcha. Every sin has a gotcha. Every single one. And so Jesus, in His grace and in His mercy, at Christmas came to getcha. See, this is why. This is why I don't know why everybody wouldn't want it to be true because when grace is on display, and if you would open yourself up to even consider the possibility. You don't have to admit it to anyone. To consider the possibility that there is a Creator God who has invited you to talk to Him and to reflect with Him and to communicate with Him as if He is a perfect Heavenly Father and that He is known for His grace and truth that dropped down in the person of Jesus, why wouldn't we want this to be true? When grace is on display, people will want it to be true before they ever believe it's true. Jesus said it this way. It's one of my favorite verses in the New Testament.
Luke 16:16. This is so powerful. This is Jesus kinda summarizing the transition between the Old Testament and the new covenant that He came to establish. He said this. The Law and the Prophets, that's what we would call the Old Testament. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Not John, who wrote the gospel of John. John the Baptist. He said, Up until the time that John the Baptist showed up to announce My coming, up until that time, the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed. But since that time, since the end of the old covenant, since the day I set foot on Planet Earth as an adult, since that time, this is so powerful, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached and everyone is forcing their way into it.
And that is exactly what happened historically. It's why 2000 years later we are here. That when people caught a glimpse of what was actually being offered, they leaned in, hoping, looking for evidence of the fact that this is in fact an act of God in the course of human history. The good news that Jesus referred to is embodied in a person, Jesus. And the good news is summarized in a word and it's our word. It's the word grace. And grace is an invitation. It's an invitation very much like the invitation that Jesus extended to Matthew. It's an invitation that goes like this. I know all about you, the good and the bad and I want you to follow Me. But be warned. If you follow Me, I will lead you away from your sin. And no, I have not forgotten what you've done. It's better than that. I remember all of it and I love you anyway. Now come, follow Me.