“Grace?! She passed away thirty years ago!”
Quick! Name that movie…..yep. Christmas Vacation.
Ok, now that that’s over, reality is most of us don’t have a much better idea of what grace is than Aunt Bethany. My hope is that OneLifers at least grasp the technical definition of grace since we’ve talked about it several times, which is “the opposite of what is deserved.” So we approached the topic this week with a question about what Jesus did for us that we did not deserve. We asked, “Why did Jesus have to die?”
Really…think about that. How would you answer the question? Couldn’t have God found another way to forgive? Why did it require Jesus’ blood?
To boil it down, we learned that the payment for sin is death. Somebody has to pay for our sin. It could have either been me and every other person who has lived, or it could be God. God chose to pay. So He sent Jesus to live a perfect life. He never sinned, but yet he died. And in doing so, he paid for my crime so that I wouldn’t have to. He gave me the opposite of what I deserved. Have gave me life. That is grace.
I wrapped the sermon up with a story I found that illustrates grace beautifully:
One day an Indian Chief discovered that someone in the tribe was stealing. This angered the leader greatly and he brought all the people together. He said, “Let the thief come forward and receive 10 lashes for his crime.” No one came and he upped the ante to 20 lashes. Then 30, then 40 lashes. He stopped there for he knew that it would take a strong man to survive 40 lashes with the whip. The crowd dispersed and the leader sent his men to find the thief. Within a week they brought the thief to him and the leader gasped, for the thief was his own mother. The guards were wagering among themselves as to what this great and wise leader would do. Would he keep his word, obey his law and whip his mother? Or would he let her go free, thus disgracing himself and the laws he sought to enforce? If the crime went unpunished, surely everyone would steal. The leader gathered the tribe together. They brought his mother forward and bared her frail back. “Ah, ha,” thought the people, “he’s going to whip her.” Then, just before the whip master brought the whip to bear, the mother cried out to her son and the leader strode over to his mother, tearing his shirt off as he went and draped himself over her frail body, taking the 40 lashes himself. The crime was still punished, but he took the penalty for her crime. That’s exactly what Jesus did for us. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. We should have rightly died for our sins, but Jesus took our place.
That is grace. Amazing grace.