Jesus is the Perfect Gift: He is Grace and Truth

 Last week’s message focused on the importance of the word fulfill because it appears in the story according to Matthew’s gospel about the birth of Jesus. Matthew said during a dream, an of the Lord revealed to Joseph the purpose of Mary conceiving a child by the power of the Spirit. Joseph was told, “All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.’ We said the word fulfill means to complete. Jesus came to complete God’s plan to rescue us from ourselves, our sinful ways. • The question needs to be asked, how does Jesus rescue us? • How does he complete our lives to make us whole? John’s gospel or story doesn’t contain details about the birth of Jesus such as Mary and Joseph, shepherds or angels. John’s gospel does tell us how Jesus fulfills us because John’s gospel teaches us what Jesus was filled with. John said: John 1:10-14 “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him: yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him…” That really is the question, whether we will receive all that God wants to give us. Some want nothing of what God has to offer. Sometimes we only want part of what God desires to give us. Sometimes we want only the forgiveness of God, the love of God; but we don’t hunger or thirst to receive anything else that God has to offer us. God wants to give us the experience to become more like him and there is one word for this experience – transformation. God will not force this desire or experience on us. It only comes as a gift. But to those who will receive Him, he will change their life. Continue – John writes, “But to all who received him who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood” Family ancestry, race or culture no longer matter. “or of the will of flesh or the will of man”, will power and human aptitude are not the keys’ “but of God.” Continue “And the Word became flesh and…” The term “Word” means the living word of God that spoke the world into existence became personified, took life in a person, became flesh, blood and bones. John said, this wisdom “…lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son full of grace and truth.” John said we saw in this person his glory meaning the revealing of who he really is the essence of God. The meaning is same as the presence of God’s glory that Abraham, Moses and others saw; but there is a difference. Moses and others saw God’s glory in events, parting of a sea, victory in a great battle etc. John said we saw this glory in a person, Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus came full of grace and truth. Definitions Quickly let’s define grace and truth. Grace is from the Greek word “charis,” which means gift that we cannot earn and don’t deserve. It is the favor of God toward us out of the blue we didn’t see coming and have no way of paying for it or qualifying for it. Andy Stanley says, • “Grace is what we crave most when our guilt has been exposed.” • “Grace is what we are hesitant to extend when confronted with the guilt of others.” Life is unfair and grace is unfair. • Grace is 100 percent relational and this is why God had to show up.” Jesus did not come to earth because someone sent up a prayer and said, God you owe us a savior. Grace is a gift. Truth – Truth is the accurate description of reality, how things genuinely are; not just how we want them to be or perceived them to be. Dr. Gary Burge says, the type of truth John describes is “selfdisclosure that comes from God.” God has revealed who and what we are to us. John said, and we saw Jesus live among us and he was full of both grace and truth. Let’s do a quick review of stories about Jesus and how his disciples saw him put grace and truth into action. Grace and truth used by Jesus. Jesus and John the Baptist disciples(John 1:35-42) Soon after John the Baptist had baptized Jesus, John was standing with his own disciples and as Jesus passed by John pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God. Two of John’s disciples began to walk behind Jesus. Jesus eventually stopped and asked them what they were looking for and they asked where Jesus was staying? Jesus said to them “come and see.” Jesus didn’t try and downplay the truth about his role in order to avoid hurting John and his group of followers/disciples. Jesus spoke the truth because the mission of God was bigger than John. The role of grace is seen when he invited the disciples of John to come and see/follow Jesus. Woman at the well (John 4:1-30) When Jesus met a woman at a well who had many husbands, he shared truth and grace with her. The truth is seen in that he exposed the reality of her life about several things from issues about worship, tensions between Jews and Samaritans and even the state of her current living arrangement after already having several husbands. He spoke truthfully to her about how things in her life in her past and present. Put yourself in the role of the women. When was the last time someone said something to you and the honesty in which they spoke exposed your flaws? Maybe it was your employer speaking about your quality of service. Maybe it was your investor talking about ineffective investment strategies you want to pursue. Maybe it was a friend talking about parents who do too much or not enough for their children. Whatever they said, their truth uncovered your flaws/errors, it accurately described some aspect of you that could do better or needs transformation. Yet Jesus extended grace to the woman at the well when he said he could give her living water, meaning she could have a transformed life. She didn’t deserve any of this. She didn’t even see this gift coming. The truth of Jesus focused on where she was in life and the grace Jesus spoke revealed who God was and how he loved her as she was. Matthew Since we have used stories about Matthew in recent weeks and that is fresh in your minds, how about Matthew the tax collector who became a disciple. Jesus once said in front of Matthew and all of his tax collector friends that it was the sick that need a physician. A quick reminder in case you weren’t here last Sunday, tax collectors were Jewish men and as they collected taxes for the roman government that occupied Israel, the tax collectors were notorious for taking more money from their own people than was required. The excess money they collected was used to line their own pockets. Life under the oppression of the Roman government was bad enough without having your own kin, add to the misery by extorting more money. Do you think Matthew and his friends who were tax collectors liked the notion as being referred to as “the sick?” Jesus was truthful. How could people like Matthew cheat their own people? But then he assured him he was the great physician they needed. Jesus offered Matthew grace to follow him and find a new way of life and leave the spiritual and moral sickness behind. APPLICATION Most of us have received a gift that when we first opened it up it was not something, we were sure how to use it. However, the person who gave the gift had a clear plan how they thought we could use the gift and needed the gift. Let’s be honest. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we cry over even though others always see us laughing. He knows where we lack confidence or worry although we come across calm and in control. He knows what temps us and tugs at our attention even though we might give the appearance of disinterest and self-control. He knows what experiences in relationships wound and threatens us, even though we claim nothing bothers us. I may have told about in the first fulltime church I had, there was a young guy who sang in the choir and his voice just dominated everyone else. I eventually had the conversation. I told him I had something I wanted to discuss and didn’t want to offend. He assured me, “owe you Gus you can’t offend me.” I shared my feed back to him. I got the silent treatment from him and from then on, our relationship was never the same. I don’t regret being candid, because God sees through our self-deception. The birth of Jesus reminds us he came so that we could receive the relationship God wants to have with us that begins with truth and grace. While the meaning of the word sin means to miss the mark; God’s gifts are always on target and just what we need. Conclusion (maybe here say a word how Jesus is the perfect gift that helps us to face the worst, the fragile, the selfish, about ourselves so we can turn back to God and be loved by him and know him as we live this life. His truth empowers us to cut through our denial and self-deception and confront anything that holds us back. God’s grace disarms fear, condemnation and shame so they aren’t a ball of chain hanging around our hearts, keeping us or slowing us down from following Jesus. Before I end with a brief prayer, let me share what I think is a powerful statement from Pastor Andy Stanley to conclude the message. Video Here 33:07 Unsettling Solution that Solves Just About Everything. Prayer Lord if we are willing to to receive you, remind us you call us to you not through fear and punishment but truth and grace so that we can have peace in an imperfect world until we come home eternally to you. Amen

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