During the first week of this study, we talked about how Jesus was great at showing grace and proclaiming truth at the same time. He was able to perfectly balance these two seemingly contradictory concepts. We looked at John 1:14, which says “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (emphasis added). Directly after proclaiming that Jesus was “full of grace and truth,” the Apostle John then writes about 2 very different stories in John 2. The first one is this:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now. This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. (John 2:1-11)
This story is a great illustration of the grace that Jesus expressed out of nothing more than thoughtfulness and kindness. He obviously didn’t do it to bring attention to Himself or even to bring Himself or the Father glory. It says that no one but the servants, his disciples, and his mother, knew that he had performed the miracle. If he were wanting to display the truth of His all-powerful nature, He would have done it before all the guests. Something else I find interesting is that Mary, Jesus’ mother, obviously already knew that Jesus had the power to do this miracle, and she obviously already knew that He was going to do it, regardless of His objections, since even after He objected she still directed the servants to do what He said. This tells me that she knew this gracious side of Jesus very well already. Few people know someone better than their own mother – she knew Jesus was full of grace before He even had much of a public ministry.
Right after this story is finished, John then tells another story with a very different twist:
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:12-22)
Here, in the very next passage, in the same chapter of the book of John, it tells a story of a very different Jesus. He is no longer acting graciously – now He’s making whips, turning over tables, and yelling for the money changers to leave the temple area. If someone had seen both of these scenes, the wedding miracle at Cana, and this scene at the temple in Jerusalem, they might think Jesus had multiple personality disorder. But this isn’t the case. Jesus’ character included grace, but it also included a passion for the truth that is God’s Word. Scripture said that He would be consumed with zeal for the house of God, and this truth was expressed through this cleansing act of chasing the money changers out of the temple area. This was nothing more than another expression of the character of Christ, who was full of both grace and truth.
Balancing grace and truth is hard. Whenever I successfully show grace to someone, I often neglect the truth of God’s Word and am either too lenient on their actions or too concerned with hurting their feelings. Whenever I successfully express the truth to people, I often come across as judgmental or uncaring. But until I am able to successfully balance these two characteristics, I will not be a good representation of Christ in this world who needs to see Him so badly. So, pray for me to get better, and think about how you are doing at showing grace and expressing truth in every situation.