The Way of Jesus… Love
In the opening of John’s Gospel, he describes Jesus in a curious and powerful way. He says that grace and truth came through Jesus. Here is the full verse in context,
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – Jn. 1:16-18
This statement comes at the end of the prologue of his Gospel (the first 18 verses). Take a few minutes to go back and read those 18 verses. It won’t take you long, but I bet you will find yourself reading it a couple of times. Why? Because of how John describes Jesus. He will tell us that Jesus was in the beginning, was with the Father and is God himself and shares the same purposes as God, all things were made through him, and that he is the true light who gives the right to become children of God. Powerful stuff! But, then, just before John closes this section, he lets us know that grace and truth came through Jesus and is something that we can receive! This grace and truth is not just something that we see or learn about through Jesus.
Here’s the kicker, if we can receive it, we can also give it away.
Later on, in John’s Gospel, Jesus will tell the disciples that the world will know that they belong to him because of the way that they love each other. Here’s how Jesus said it,
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jn. 13:24-35
As children of God, we have received both grace and truth through Jesus. The order of these words is not insignificant. Grace makes truth palatable. All too often, we reverse the order with one another. We give truth and then grace. But, that isn’t a recipe for success or for love. Grace without truth is sentimental. It lacks substance and doesn’t amount to much in the long run. And truth without grace is oppressive, condemning, and drives us to shame. But, when grace and truth are together, and in that order, we experience something powerful, love. And, this is how Jesus said the world would know that we belong to Him… our love for each other in the family of God. And until Jesus arrived, humanity had never seen grace and truth in perfect combination before. After all, Jesus is the fullness of God and made Him known.
The way of Jesus is love. However, it is not love without truth. Or love without grace. You can’t have love, Biblical love, without grace and truth. The way of Jesus is selfless love that gives grace first so that life-changing truth can be received. Let’s give that love away and watch it transform our relationships, neighborhoods, and world.