Read John 1
And the word became flesh and pitched his tent among us. The Greek word is σκηνόω (skay-no'-o). You might think that you missed that part in the gospel. You didn’t. Words have changed over the past two thousand years and somewhat in translations.
The word became flesh and tabernacled among us. You probably have not seen tabernacles used as a verb in most of your readings, but that’s what happened.
For the Christian, Jesus did more than pitch a tent. He came to dwell with us as his Father dwelt in him. It’s more than just claiming a camp site and making sure that your satellite television antennae is set up right. It’s about intimacy between the Creator of the universe and us. He is with us and within us.
We have been talking about truth for a few weeks and we come to this wonderful pericope about grace and truth. The gospel author notes that Jesus came in glory that could only belong to the one and only Son of the God who sent him.
He came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Grace and truth have a nice ring to them but in actuality may seem to be opposed to each other.
Let’s look at truth.
We know God is the Creator of all things. He has the right to make the rules. He has authority to reward and to punish. He is eternal and not swayed by man’s thoughts about what is right.
We miss the mark on a recurring basis. Truth says that we deserve punishment. We deserve punishment.
Truth says that we do not have a passing grade. Truth says that we did not live up to expectations and requirements.
Truth is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. Had Jesus come only in truth, our pucker factor might have been off the charts.
But he came from the Father full of grace and truth. I have earned nothing as far as right standing with God goes, but he loves me more than I can comprehend.
I have missed the mark so many times, but Jesus tells me that he took care of that.
John wrote that the law came through Moses but grace comes through Jesus Christ. Both are from God and essential to our relationship with the Almighty.
We know that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We know that. I don’t know anyone here who thinks otherwise. We have all fallen short, but that is not the end of the story.
In some cases, realizing that we missed the mark is truly our beginning. Having eyes to see that: We can’t fix it. We can’t mend it. We can’t make it like it was.
But God can. David, a man that sought after God perhaps more than others noted in the Old Testament, knew that he was broken. He knew that he could not fix his own brokenness.
David had done many great things in the Lord’s name. David was a warrior’s warrior. David was a poet and musician. David brought a broken kingdom together. David had many accomplishments to his credit but he could not cleanse himself of his transgressions.
Sure, there were sacrifices required by the law but David pleaded with the Lord to create in him a clean heart. Create in me a clean heart.
David knew the truth. He had sinned against God and his fellow man. He had lived in the favor of God and God had richly blessed him but now, he had thrown all of that away. God had done so much for him; yet he gave in to his selfish nature.
But David had some insight that we could all learn from. He sought to be made right again. He pleaded with God, he petitioned God, to create in him a clean heart.
Truth said, “You blew it. You threw it all away.”
Grace said, “Let’s move forward after I put you back together.”
Truth brings us to the cross. Grace leads us to life.
Truth brings us to confession. Grace says, I have already forgiven you.
Truth shows us our acts of omission. Grace tells us, there is still time so long as it is called today.
Truth examines our history. Grace leads us to eternity.
Both truth and grace came in one package. The only human flesh to have lived in God’s heavenly presence who was in fact God in the flesh, came in grace and truth.
We love the grace part, but sometimes we avoid the truth.
We live in a world of idolatry. We don’t want to admit it, but we have more idols than Rome or Greece or Asia Minor had two thousand years ago.
They come in the form of star athletes, our favorite teams, movie stars, and even in shows named America Idol and all of its spinoffs. We adorn our homes and our cars with posters and stickers and license plates.
We covet like no other nation in no other time. It’s not so much that our neighbor has something, it’s that the world has something and I want one.
God is seldom first. We work him in after ourselves and our kids and the things we just have to have.
We often do not worship in Spirit and in Truth. More and more, we look at our phones during worship. Are we bored with this He is worthy stuff?
Sometimes it seems easier to throw some money at somebody’s problem instead of speaking the truth in love. How many times do we forget that to come to salvation we first repented of our sin and then rejoiced in the good news.
I’m not going to go on. We could be here a long time. When you get home, look in the mirror and ask the man or woman in the mirror who is first in your life. Do a fearless and searching inventory of your life. Anyone who has been through a 12 Steps program knows this as step 4: Conduct a searching and fearless moral inventory.
You don’t have to be an addict to conduct this inventory, but if we did a searching and fearless inventory instead of the surface level look we give ourselves day-to-day, what would we find?
And here is what I can say with confidence to every one of you. God still loves you. In spite of everything that truth revealed to you, grace has yet embraced you.
The mercy of God is more than we can fathom.
The love of God is more than we can comprehend.
The grace of God that we know in Christ Jesus goes far beyond any sin that the truth has revealed to us. We need the truth to receive God’s grace. If we do not have eyes to see that we have fallen short of the glory of God, why would anyone believe they need the grace of God.
The western world today is so afraid of offending someone that God’s truth has been glossed over if not outright set aside. Why do we need grace if the world says that however we live is just fine?
There is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that goes like this.
How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?
Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn't make it a leg.
We who seek to follow Christ must stand in and live in the truth of God every moment of every day. We are not going to get everything right, but knowing God’s way and seeking it are essential to our well being.
Remember, God told his own people, I’m giving you these directives for your own good. The law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Christ Jesus.
We need to know where we stand with God. The law helps, but the truth that came with Christ is what prepares us to receive his grace and continue to live in his grace.
The law without Christ was incomplete. Jesus came to complete the law, not so that we could be condemned but so we could finally live. Jesus completed the law.
Truth and grace came in one package. His light shone in the darkness and the world did not comprehend it but that same dark world cannot overcome it.
We are a mess. We who follow Christ know that we are a mess. We have the truth. We can’t fix our condition.
But the truth also introduces us to grace, favor from God that has always been there but which we could not see before the truth set us free.
God has never stopped loving us. He will never stop loving us. We are his and he wants to keep us close to him for all eternity. Where we are weak, his strength is even more visible.
We are saved by grace. To which everyone says, “Amen!” But we already knew that. Couldn’t you save this verse for Christmas. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Merry Christmas!
We know this but are we conversant in what we know. Can we, without condemning another person, explain the truth to them, and lead them to the grace of God that we know in Christ Jesus?
Can we do that?
If we are following Jesus, we need to be people of truth and grace. We need to help people understand that we all have fallen short of God’s glory.
We all have fallen short but he loves us anyway. If we can’t speak the truth, why would people think they need Christ? The world has convinced them otherwise.
Jesus showed us the glory of the Father. He came in grace and truth. We are to live in grace and truth. We should not be afraid of the truth for it prepares us for God’s grace.
Again, you say, we know this.
So again, I say, share this.
This is our message that leads people to Christ. Let us live as people not only of grace but of truth.