This is Section 1 of 2 of Lesson 4: The Wisdom of Christ’s Teachings. Click here to go back to the introduction of this lesson.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV).
Jesus is grace personified. And so therefore is God the Father full of grace and truth, given that Jesus is the ‘express image’ of the Father (Heb 1:3).
What is grace? Grace is God’s gift of salvation to us – unmerited by us.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God Eph 2:8 (NKJV)
The Study Guide lists 5 items from the gospels which highlight how the teachings of Jesus illustrated the themes of grace and faith:
1. Peter Walking on the Water.
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[a] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:28-31
How could Peter ever forget his utter helplessness in the face of the deadly elements that surrounded him that night on the lake? His only recourse was to cry out to a Power beyond himself. And instantly the response was there! No delay. No need for penance. No complicated formula or requirement. Just three words, coming naturally from his extreme desperation: “Lord, save me!” (Matt. 14:30, NIV). And immediately the hand of Jesus was on him. That is grace. ABSG-t p50.
2. Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard
This parable can be found by clicking on the following text link: Matt. 20:1-15.
This parable is interesting because it shows us clearly that the kingdom of heaven doesn’t work like a standard employer-employee relationship. Salvation doesn’t depend on how long you’ve been working in the ‘vineyard’, but just the fact that you are in there. This parable was further reinforced by Jesus’ reaction to the thief on the cross who decided at the last minute to follow Jesus. Jesus wasn’t deterred – His response was succinct and positive:
‘…you will be with Me in Paradise.’ Luke 23:43 (NKJV).
3. When Mary Washed and Kissed Jesus’ Feet:
The full account is worth reading at Luke 7:36-48 to get the full story.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Luke 7:39-44 NKJV
This is an interesting story. Is Jesus saying He likes it when people sin greatly, so they can be forgiven much and hence love much? I’ll leave that one out there for you to respond to in the comments below?
4. The Prodigal Son
This has to be one of the best parables in the whole Bible, summing up both our own natures and how God responds.
Even though you know it well, have another read through at Luke 15:11-31 – you might see something new this time!
My favourite part of the parable (apart from the obvious – the grace of restoration bestowed by the father on the son) is the following (my emphasis added):
But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. v20.
What do you like about this parable?
5. The Woman Caught in Adultery – John 8:1-11
I remember a great sermon where this passage was where the preacher said Jesus was at His best – not that there weren’t many other instances that vied for such an award.
We’ve covered this before (in this post: How Jesus Interacted With Women).
However in short Jesus both acts in utmost sensitivity to the woman, reassuring her that she is not condemned, but at the same time, encouraging her to leave her destructive ways and ‘sin no more’.
There are many other passages that could demonstrate more of the truth of God’s grace, but I think the Study guide has picked up a great set of 5 to get us going.
A couple of questions to ponder.
- Are we saved by faith or works? (Note this is a trick question… refer to Ephesians 2:8 as noted above).
- How does grace and faith and works interact. To help answer this, you might need the following texts in addition to Eph 2:8.
As always, we’re interested in your comments below.
Click here to go to the next section: What Jesus Taught about Forgiveness.
** Sections noted as “ABSG-t” are extracts taken from the Adult Bible Study Guide, teachers edition for this week. This guide in it’s entirety can be found here.