Yesterday we talked about what grace truly is – in that although we are wretches, both by nature and in character, Christ died for us. We are totally depraved, completely unable to do good or even seek God, and our human nature is to turn away from God and seek after our own pleasure. We are sinful beings who live sinful lives. The justice of God demands a price be paid when we sin, and that price must include the shedding of blood (see Hebrews 9:22). Jesus took on the punishment for our sins, and this is the ultimate sacrifice, and therefore, the ultimate act of grace.
Exhibiting grace usually means paying a price. As we spoke about last week, whenever we try to show grace in our interactions with the world, those who under-emphasize grace and focus only on the truth of God’s Word often end up blasting us for our actions, saying that we are compromising truth. No one likes being blasted or made to feel like they are heathen, especially when they are attempting to emulate the grace of Christ. Another example that comes to mind of someone paying a price for the sake of grace is the story of Jim Elliot and his friends who served as missionaries in Ecuador in the 1950s. Elliot, along with Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and pilot Nate Saint, worked to gain the trust of a violent native tribe, hoping to share the gospel with them. On January 8, 1956, after having made some positive contact with the tribe, the 5 men were attacked and killed by 10 members of the tribe, leaving behind wives and children. This is just one of hundreds of great stories out there that testify to the grace people have attempted to show for the cause of Christ, only to be tortured, wounded, and killed. Make no mistake, when we try to show grace to the world, we will have to pay a price, large or small.
When it comes to the cost of grace, no one paid a greater price than Jesus. I cringed when I read how Alcorn described this price:
“Hounded by the Pharisees, betrayed by a friend, forsaken by His disciples, brutalized by guards, beaten by His inquisitors, led in disgrace to a rigged trial. Arrogant men sitting in judgment over Him, crowning Him with thorns, mocking and disdaining. Beating Him without mercy, nailing Him to the cross – the worst of tortures – stretched out between thieves. Miserably thirsty, utterly forsaken by His Father for the first time, the picture of utter aloneness. Hell on earth! Not just one man’s hell but the hell of billions. At any moment – in a millisecond – Jesus could have called legions of angels to deliver Him and destroy His enemies. Instead, He bears forever the scars of sin, rebellion, mockery, and hatred – the scars of God’s grace. This would be enough for most of us if it happened over a lifetime. But it didn’t. This happened in just one week, the last week of Jesus’ life on earth.”
The whole concept of grace is stunning. Jesus paid it all, giving me what I don’t deserve. He offers me His grace as a free gift. But as someone once said, “just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s cheap.”
Grace costs a lot. It costs us our pride and sometimes our reputations. It costs some people their lives. It cost Jesus everything.