We’ll finish this week’s study of The Grace and Truth Paradox by looking at Jesus once again. As we’ve mentioned multiple days this week, Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), a perfect balance between these two foundational concepts of the Christian faith. If we were to ask what characteristics of Jesus we needed to most emulate, these two traits would sum it all up.
Often, people add to or take away from who Jesus really was. Take the following bumper stickers that you can actually buy online:
This sticker demands that Jesus was a conservative – I assume it’s suggesting that Jesus’ political views would lean toward the right, that He would choose to “believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense” (see here). On the other hand, check out this one:
This one suggests that living like Jesus would annoy conservatives, which I assume means that Jesus was liberal, or that He would choose to “believe in governmental action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all, and that it is the duty of the State to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights.” I would laugh at either of these arguments – I don’t think anything in Jesus’ message talked about the role of government or national defense. These stickers are evidence that people try and fit Jesus into their own little box, making Him out to be what they want Him to be, rather than who He truly was.
Randy Alcorn uses parts from two of C.S. Lewis’s stories from the Chronicles of Narnia series – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – to illustrate the these two complementary sides of Christ. In a scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, one character, Susan, asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan the Lion: “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” To which they reply “That you will, Dearie, and no mistake. If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just plain silly.” Lucy then says “Then he isn’t safe?” And the Beavers reply with “Safe? Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.” Most people agree that C.S. Lewis fully intended for Aslan to be a mythical representation of Christ, and this description of Aslan is a good fit for Christ as well – He is good, but as Alcorn says, “until we understand that He’s not safe, until we come to grips with the truth of His uncompromising holiness, we will never begin to grasp His grace.”
Alcorn goes on to point out that most people expected Jesus, the Messiah, to show up as a powerful lion. Overlooking many scriptures, they created an image of who Christ would be, but their image was incomplete. Isaiah 53:7 prophesied that Jesus would come like a lamb:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
Jesus came as a lamb, gentle and full of grace, never opening His mouth when they came to slaughter Him. Although this may have caused the Jewish people to see Jesus as weak, Revelation 17:14 makes clear that the Lamb is not weak – “[The ten kings under the power and authority of the Beast] will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings…”
Alcorn also points out that at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the children come across a small lamb who, as they speak, turns into Aslan himself, a huge golden lion. Sometimes Jesus appears like a lamb, and sometimes He appears like a lion, but in actuality He is always both. He is powerful, mighty, and should be feared because of His holiness and justice. But He is gentle and full of grace, willing to forgive those who turn to Him and seek His mercy. Jesus is both the lion of truth and the lamb of grace.