Grace! What a lovely word! It’s a sweet syllable that lingers in our hearts after it trips off our tongues in our talk of God! It’s a tender and beautiful sentiment in our singing of sweet songs to our Savior as the wonder of His love saturates our minds! The awesome majesty of God’s authentic grace is so other-worldly to our world that delights in fingers pointing at the fallen, snide snickers at the expense of the stumbling, and taunting “told-you-soes” to the temptation trapped.
Grace is that sunny smile of acceptance when a stern frown of disapproval is earned. It is the helping hand that pulls another to his feet instead of the cold shoulder that shrugs him off. It is the patient forbearance that persistently pursues something better for our stubborn hearts than the filthy trifles that so easily satisfy us!
In John chapter 8, a woman caught in sin was brought before Jesus so that the wicked self-righteousness of the proud and arrogant could “force His hand”, but Jesus refused to be baited. He simply stooped down and began writing on the ground.
“Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?’ This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground” (John 8:2-6 ESV).
The Scriptures do not record what it was that Jesus wrote and there has been a lot of speculation about what it might been. Some have suggested that He was naming in the dust of the street the “pet sins” of the accusers. Perhaps so. Perhaps even adultery was among the sins listed. But whatever it was, the significance is at first lost on the accusers.
Imagine it, if you will, the unfolding of this living tabloid. See the scandal and distorted delight of those standing there with stones in their hands as they sneered in derision at the one they brought to be judged and scoffed at the One Who, ironically, is the final Judge of all judges.
But after Jesus’ words bring home the indictment of the flawed spiritual condition and self-serving motives of Jesus’ enemies, grace that finds its source in a holy God also finds the woman at Jesus’ feet and raises her up.
“Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:10-11 ESV).
Just as surely as the breezes of the day wafted over and eventually erased the things Jesus had written in the sand, so too does His grace erase the eternal record of our sin if we turn from that sin and receive Him as Lord and Savior. If you believe that Jesus came to die for you in your place to pay for the reality of your sin, the blood that He bled as He died on the cross is, in the mind of God, applied to your life. His Spirit says to you, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
“[Jesus] entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.…. the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purif[ies] our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:11, 14b ESV).
The world, with its accusing fingers, constantly points to the writing in the sand of all the ways that we are guilty, fallen, and deserving of God’s judgment. Grace, on the other hand, blows over the sands of our sins and shortcomings and gently blows them all away.