The Unsettling Solution for Just About Everything, Part 1: Undeserveable // Andy Stanley

– Now I know I’m
naive to wonder this and you can criticize
me for this later because I just, I’m
just owning the fact that this is kind of a
naive, simplistic thought. But I don’t know why, I don’t know why everybody wouldn’t want
Christianity to be true. Maybe not the version other people grew
up with or maybe not the version that
you grew up with. Maybe not Christianity
the way we’ve made it or what we’ve turned it into, but I don’t know why everybody wouldn’t want the original
version to be true. Jesus irresistible
version to be true. Because and you know this, but
I’ll just state the obvious. There’s a difference,
there’s a big difference between I don’t
believe it’s true and perhaps you don’t
believe the message of Jesus or the story of Jesus is true. I get that, but there’s
a big difference between I don’t
believe it’s true, I don’t believe it’s true. Sometimes people just
need more information. Sometimes they
need more evidence. Sometimes they need to have a
difficult question answered. Sometimes there’s
something they need to read or see or a story
they need to hear. So I get that. But there’s a big difference between I don’t
believe it’s true and I don’t want it to be true. And I don’t understand when people are confronted
with the original version of Jesus and the claims of Jesus and the life of Jesus why they wouldn’t at
least want it be true. They may never, you may never get to the point
where you can actually believe it’s true because
of, I prefer reasons, things that I don’t understand. But when you hear
the gospel presented or when you hear the
life of Jesus explained or when you immerse yourself
in the 1st century content, I just don’t know why everybody
wouldn’t want it to be true. Blaise Pascal, 17th century
mathematician, philosopher. He was actually homeschooled, plug for those of
you who homeschool. He wrote this. He said, People,
this is amazing, people almost invariably
arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof,
and this is so true. This explains some of the
conversations you have in your home with
your middle schoolers and your high school students. People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not
on the basis of proof but on the basis of what
they find attractive. In other words, when
something is attractive to us, we go looking for reasons
to substantiate our belief. Now he’s not saying, If
something’s attractive, therefore it’s true, and I’m not arguing if
something’s attractive, therefore it’s true. And I’m certainly not arguing, Hey, since Christianity
is attractive, it’s true. That’s not my point. My point is this. Christianity, in its
earliest original form, was so extraordinarily
attractive that I don’t understand
why people in modern times wouldn’t want it to be true even if intellectually they
can’t actually get there, because Jesus was attractive. People were attracted to Jesus. Early Christianity
was attractive, so attractive that
eventually it became the predominant
philosophy and religions and worldview of
the Roman Empire. Christianity has
shaped Western culture. There was something so
attractive about it. And the thing that makes
Christianity so attractive, at least the original version, is a single word. It’s the word that makes
me want it to be true. But perhaps it’s a word that
wasn’t in the equation for you. And the word is grace. It’s grace. Grace is what we, this
what we all have in common. Grace is what we crave most when our guilt is
exposed, right? You come home late. Your parents are sitting there. They’ve got the
stuff on the table. They know it’s yours. There’s no excuses,
there’s no loopholes. There’s no point in
saying, It’s my sister’s. I don’t know, you know that. We found it in your room. I mean, you are just,
you are so busted and in that moment,
you’re thinking about all the things they could take
away and should take away. And in that moment,
what you crave is you don’t know, you
didn’t know the word maybe in high school or
middle school or college but it was grace. Or you come home late and
your wife’s waiting up. You come home late and
your husband’s waiting up. You come home late and it’s
your kids who are waiting up. Or your boss walks in and sits down and
boom, lays it out there and you realize
there’s no excuse, there’s no point
in making excuses, there’s no loopholes, there’s no one to blame. It’s just there. There it is. And in that moment, even if maybe you don’t, you didn’t think of the word, what you’re looking
for is grace. You’re looking for someone
to give something to you or extend something to you that you know you don’t deserve. Grace is, at the same time, this is the flip side. This is why there’s
so much tension. Grace is what we’re
hesitant to extend when confronted with the
guilt of other people, especially when they’ve hurt me or even more so, when
they’ve hurt someone I love. And therein lies the tension. That grace, when we’re
on the receiving end, is extraordinarily refreshing. But grace, when
it’s required of us, is extraordinarily disturbing. It is in fact, as
we’re gonna see, as you think about
how this settles in on your relationships, your good ones and your bad ones and the ones that
you’re trying to repair or the relationship
that someone’s trying to repair with you, that grace really is the unsettling solution for just about everything. Now if you grew up in church, you may have been given
a definition for grace or maybe you know what grace is but you’ve never
thought of a definition. So, here’s our definition
for the next few weeks. It’s simply undeserved, unearned, unearnable favor. It’s someone leaning
in your direction when they should lean away. It’s someone that you
know you should pursue because you’ve hurt them and they actually
initiate the conversation. But grace is strange. You can no more deserve grace than you can plan your
own surprise party, right? I mean, if you plan
your own surprise party, the fact that you planned
it voids the surprise. And the moment you
think you deserve grace, you’ve actually
voided the grace. You could ask for grace. You could beg for grace. You could plead with someone
to extend grace to you, but the minute you
think you deserve it, it’s no longer grace. And then here’s the
additional twist to the whole conversation. We can’t recognize, this is so important
for many of us. We can’t recognize or receive grace for
what it actually is until we’re convinced
we don’t deserve it. You can’t even recognize or
experience grace for what it is until you come to the place
and I come to the place that I actually
don’t deserve it. It can only be experienced
within the context of a relationship. Grace is purely relational. It’s always tied
to a relationship. It can only be experienced in
the context of a relationship, ready for this? Where there is an imbalance and you are on the negative side of the ledger because
of your behavior. And this, my friends, this is what makes
Christianity so unique. This is what makes the
story and the narrative of Christianity and
the arc of the story of Christianity so
unique and so attractive. This is the reason that even
if you never get to the place intellectually where you
can believe it’s true, this is why
everybody should want it to be true. And this is why God had to show up. Because grace is 100% relational and you can’t experience
or understand grace apart from a relationship. This is why God had to show up. This is why we celebrate
the way we do at Christmas. We would have never
known the grace of God without and apart from the presence of God. For God’s grace to be seen, for God’s grace to be known, there had to be a person. It had to be personal. It is the message of Christmas. Now, John, Matthew, Mark,
Luke, John, the four, the gospel writer John who
also wrote three letters in the 1st century
called, (laughs), not very creative,
1st, 2nd and 3rd John. John, who was a
disciple of Jesus. John, who saw the entire thing. John, who lives
to be an old man. We talk about him all the time. He outlived Peter and Andrew. He outlived James,
the brother of Jesus. John is an old man. He probably outlived
all of his friends. With hindsight, looking back, decides, Hey, I need
to get my story out. So he sits down with someone
and he probably dictated this. Jesus’ earliest
apostles or followers were probably illiterate
men for the most part so consequently sometimes
we’re criticized as Christians, there’s no way that
ignorant Galileans could have given us that
kind of Greek literature. Well hello, they
probably didn’t write it. They probably dictated
it and every scribe in the 1st century
could speak at least two or maybe three languages. So John is an old man, no doubt sits down and the Christians
around him are saying, John, we gotta hear your story. You’re an old man. We don’t know how much longer
you’re gonna be with us. Tell us your story. And I can just imagine
John as he begins trying to figure out where do you begin this
epic tale that’s true? How do I make this so realistic that people will believe
and yet it’s so fantastic, it will be hard for
people to believe? And so John begins his
account of the life of Jesus this way and he goes right to the heart of what Christmas is about. He goes right to the heart
of what grace is about. He says this. The Word, the Greek
word is Logos. The Word became flesh. This was his way of saying, I don’t know how to describe it. Please don’t ask me to
give you any details. All I know is this. God inhabited a body. God came to earth. I know it’s hard to believe
but I’m just getting started. God became flesh and He dwelled, He made His dwelling among us. The explanation for all things took up residence among us. And then he says this. And we, and when he says we,
he’s not talking about you we or me we or even we we. He’s talking about Him we, okay? He’s saying, Look, this isn’t
something I heard about. This isn’t something
I read about. This isn’t a story that
I’m passing along to you. We, we as in Peter and Andrew and James and all the other apostles and dozens and dozens and
hundreds of other men and women, we have seen. We didn’t hear about it,
we didn’t read about it. This is why I’m dictating
this so that you’ll know. We have seen His glory, the glory of the
one and only Son. Again, don’t ask me to
explain it, John would say. All I know is this, God is our Father and Jesus, He’s the unique Son who came into this earth to represent the presence of God and to explain to us what God is really like. Who came from the Father and then here’s kind
of the punchline that he’s gonna drag out
throughout his entire gospel. Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Not the balance of
grace and truth. That’s what we try to pull off. Not the balance of. When any time you try to
balance grace and truth, you lose some grace and
you lose some truth. Jesus was full on grace
and full on truth. Jesus brought, Jesus brought a
full dose of grace and truth. This is so powerful
because you’re on one side or the other of the ledger. Some of you who
are truth people, some of you who
are grace people, this is why two people
have to get married because we need
some grace and truth or our kids will be crazy. This is why some
of you are crazy ’cause both of your
parents were grace or both of them were truth. We need a little grace. We need a little truth. Some of you were raised
going to grace churches. Some of you grew up
going to truth churches and you didn’t get enough grace or you didn’t get enough truth. Jesus shows up and
He is full on grace and He is full on truth. Jesus never watered
down the truth and He never turned
down the grace. It’s amazing. He called sin sin. He called sinners sinners and then He laid down
His life for the sinners and paid for their sin. He was all grace, all truth all the time and John saw this and he saw this with people. And it’s what led
John, as an old man, to finally pen these words
or dictate these words that would change
Western civilization. That would shape the way
that just about everybody in the world views God. This was an idea that
had never been introduced to the human race until John
was the first one to say it and someone wrote it and as crazy as it
sounded in the 1st century when the world was upside
down and all of his friends had been martyred,
executed or were lost, John is the one that
brings us this idea that God is love and the reason
John could conclude that God is love is
because Jesus was love in a body because Jesus was
full on grace and truth. And love, if you’re a good
parent, you know this. Love, if you were raised by
good parents, you know this. Love is grace and truth. Love is all grace and
all truth all the time. John was there that
very awkward afternoon when Jesus and His apostles and the crowds that
followed Jesus everywhere went through an intersection. They had to stop and
face down a tax gatherer. And after they did
their business, Jesus leans in and He says, Levi, or Matthew, Hey, I want you to follow Me. To and all the apostles
with Him were like, No, not, he’s a tax guy. He’s a traitor. I mean, even his family won’t
have him over for holidays. What do you mean? He’s not gonna be a
part of our thing. Matthew, I want you to follow Me and there’s no indication
that Matthew decided not to be a tax
gatherer anymore. He just got up and had
one of his subordinates take over whatever he was doing and he decided to follow Jesus. And Peter and all the
guys are stepping back like, This is not gonna
go well for us, okay? We’re gonna lose the crowd. And Matthew says,
Okay, I’ll follow You. Where are we going? And then Jesus said something
that offended everybody and that could hear. He said, Matthew, we’re
gonna go to your house. Peter’s like, Well, I’m
not gonna go to his house. Jesus said, Yes, you are,
’cause you’re following Me too. We’re all going to his house. Wait a minute, wait a minute. He’s a tax gatherer. You haven’t even
asked him to repent. You haven’t even
asked him to give back the money he’s stolen. You’re just gonna ask him
to follow us just like that and go to your house? Yeah. This is the most
awkward moment ever. They go to his house and Matthew invites his
tax gatherer friends because Jesus says, I
want to have a dinner. I want you to
invite your friends. And Matthew’s thinking, Okay, You’re not
gonna like my friends, because my friends
are nothing like You and You’re nothing
like my friends and they’re not gonna like You and You’re not gonna like them. And he invites his friends. We don’t know how
long this took. This may have been the
next day for all we know. We don’t know. But he gathers
all of his friends and all of his friends
are all the wrong people. And then there sits
Peter with a bad attitude and Andrew’s with
a bad attitude. They’re all, it’s so weird. It would be, and it’s
not a very good party. It would be like this. It would be like you
being in a social setting, maybe out with friends
at a restaurant or maybe you’re having a party or an office party or whatever, and everybody has drank
just a little bit too much and I walk in. (congregation laughing) Why are you laughing? (congregation laughing) And it’s like (humming
down scale) downer. (congregation laughing) We like him on Sunday. We don’t like him
on Saturday night. So it’s like, how long are
he and Sandra gonna stay? I don’t know, they’ll
leave pretty soon. Soon as we left, it’s okay,
let’s get back to, right? (congregation laughing) That’s how this was. So there’s Jesus the
rabbi in the house of Matthew, the tax gatherer. The whole thing
is so ridiculously
awkward and unsettling because that’s the
nature of grace. It is the unsettling solution to just about everything
but it is unsettling. And when the Pharisees, the Pharisees are the
protectors of the truth. They walk around like this
so their hands don’t dirty. They step around things. They don’t want to touch
anybody who’s dirty and they don’t want to
become ceremonially unclean. They represent God to the
people but if God’s anything like that, I’m not sure
I want to go to heaven. That’s kind of the
thought in the 1st century with some of the
religious leaders. When the Pharisees saw this
’cause they weren’t invited and they wouldn’t
have gone anyway. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples. Send a message into the house,
’cause they weren’t gonna go. He said, Go inside
and ask your teacher, Why does He eat with tax
collectors and sinners? He should be eating, if He’s a rabbi, if He’s
a representative of God, he should be eating with us. So they go in and I’m sure
whoever delivered the message delivered it out loud so
Matthew and his friends could hear to shame them. My friend, the
Pharisees outside, the leaders from
the temple have come and Jesus, they want to
know and announce it, Why are You here eating
with this rabble? Why are You here with tax
gatherers and sinners? And then Jesus, I think,
answers equally as loud. He says, On hearing
this, Jesus said, Don’t call Matthew and
his friends sinners. That may hurt their feelings. (congregation laughing) They may raise your taxes. (congregation laughing) No. Jesus makes an awkward
situation even more awkward. He does that grace truth thing that He would do throughout
His time on earth. He’s at Matthew’s house, He’s invited Matthew
to follow Him and then Jesus says out loud, I’m sure within the
hearing of everybody who was very quiet
at this moment. On hearing this,
Jesus actually said, Tell the guys outside, It’s not the healthy who
need a doctor, but the sick. (laughs) Matthew’s thinking,
wait wait wait wait. Jesus, I mean, You’re my guest. Are You saying I’m sick? To which Jesus would
have said, Yes. You’re stealing
from your people. You’re sick. But I still want
you to follow Me. It’s like, What? Wait wait, yes,
Matthew, you’re sick, that’s why I’m here. All of you friend, these are
tax gatherers and sinners. Sinners, you have
your own category ’cause you don’t even
be tax gatherers. I mean, you guys are
the worst of the worst. Thanks for inviting Me over. Would you follow Me? It’s like, No no no, wait. See, you’ve messed up
all the categories. If you want somebody
to follow you, you should ask people who
are like you to follow you. You don’t ask people
who are unlike you to follow you unless they decide
they’re gonna be like you. You’ve asked someone
who’s nothing like you to follow you. This is, you’re messing
up all the categories. And I think Jesus
would just smile. And He said, Oh
yeah, by the way, tell the Pharisees
outside the following. Tell them this, and
this was so offensive. Go and learn. Whenever you tell the
smartest person in the world, in the room to go and
learn, you’ve offended them. What you’ve said
is, You’re so smart. I’m smarter. You need to go learn something you don’t know that I know. So this was Jesus, I think
everybody in the room chuckled ’cause they knew
this was such a dig at the learned, the
teachers of the law. Tell the Pharisees to go
and learn what this means. And then He quotes from
their own scripture, the Law and the Prophets that they’re supposed
to be the experts in. Go tell them to learn
what this means, I desire mercy not sacrifice, for I have not come
to call the righteous. Then perhaps He swept His
hand around the room and said, But sinners. I’m not afraid to
call a sinner a sinner and I’m not afraid to go
to their house for dinner. We should just probably
all say that together. (congregation laughing) I’m not afraid to
call a sinner a? – [Congregation] Sinner. – And I’m not afraid
to go to their – [Congregation]
House for dinner. – So when I show
up at your party, I expect you to
greet me warm, no. (congregation laughing) And please don’t
leave here saying, Andy, he equated
himself with Jesus. My children would
tell you different. Then one day and
again, this is one of these emotional stories
you’ve all heard it. In fact, you don’t
have even grow, have grown up in church. You know this story. But we can’t, the emotion
is impossible for me to even convey it because I can’t
even get my mind around it. One day Jesus goes up
to the southern steps to the temple mount. This is the epicenter
of the presence of God. This is the Holy of Holies. This is the holiest
place on the planet. This is the place
that when the temple or when the city of
Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, this was the
last stronghold of the Jews because we can’t let
them take the temple. This is, there’s no way to even, for the way we
think, us Westerners, there’s no way to
even ascribe the value to the temple mount that
these 1st century Jews ascribed to this
piece of real estate. I mean, right over
there is the altar and animals are
being sacrificed. And right over there
is the Holy of Holies that houses God’s Word and here we are on
the temple mount and Jesus is there, which
always made everybody nervous. And He’s teaching
and they drag a woman up to Him and throw her
down in front of His feet. John is the one who
includes this story in his gospel. And apparently they
held her all night, waiting for this moment and they’re like, No no
no, not yet, not yet. Let’s wait till He
gets on the temple, let’s wait till He
gets all the way up next to the Holy of Holies and then we’ll see
what He’s gonna do. And they drag this woman
up, you’ve heard this story. They throw her down. They say, Jesus, this woman
was caught in adultery and the Law, which is
like right over there, like, we could go see it
if you don’t believe us, the Law says she must die, she must be executed, she
must be stoned to death. And Jesus is so brilliant. That’s why I don’t think
people made these stories up. It’s so brilliant. Jesus says, Okay. Well you are the
experts in the Law. Stone her. He knows that, He
calls their bluff. They’re not gonna stone her
right there on the temple mount. She’s terrified. Imagine, she’s terrified. No mercy, no love,
no compassion. No hey, tell me your story. No what’s your background. She’s terrified. Then Jesus does that cool thing. He says, All right,
you guys start. And oh yeah, one thing. Why don’t we start with the
person who doesn’t have any sin? You go first. And then He kneels down and
He starts writing in the sand. And scholars, if you want to
read something interesting, scholars, biblical scholars, they love to imagine
what Jesus was writing in the sand. He’s drawing in the sand. I think He was writing, It takes one to know one. (congregation laughing) In Aramaic, okay? I don’t know what He
was drawing in the sand but He stoops down. And finally, the youngest, the oldest guys in the
crowd were like, Agh, got us again. They grabbing the
young guys by the, nah nah nah, don’t. No no no, this
isn’t gonna go well. And they all leave. And the woman of
course is like oh. And then Jesus ruins the moment. He leans down and looks
into her eyes and He says, Leave your life of sin. Not, hey you’re fine. You had a tough upbringing. I know your dad, I know, I know everything. Just, you’re gonna be okay. No no, I mean, leave your life of sin. See, grace and truth. You are guilty but I don’t condemn you. You’re like, wait, what? And wait, if I’m guilty,
you’re to condemn me. No, I know you’re guilty but I don’t condemn you. Wait, if I’m innocent,
you don’t condemn me. If I’m guilty, you condemn me. How can I be guilty and
you don’t condemn me? Isn’t it either or? Isn’t it the other way around? No, it used to be, but see in this moment,
for your benefit, for your benefit,
for your benefit, for my benefit, grace has touched down. There is a new lawgiver. There is a new covenant maker. There is a new representative
of God the Father and He was all grace, all truth all the time and over and over, this is why even if you never
get there intellectually, you should want this to be true. Over and over, Jesus leaned in toward pre-repentant,
guilty people and invited them to follow Him. Over and over, He
leaned into people who had not
acknowledged their sin and initiated relationship
and said, Follow Me. And then John was
there at the very end. We know he was there
at the very end because at the very
end of Jesus’ life He says to John who
brought us so much of this. He said, John, My mother, Mary, is like your mother. That was His way of saying, Care for My mother. And in fact, things were
so difficult in Judea and so difficult in Galilee that tradition tells
us that John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, and they went to Ephesus. And if you visit Ephesus today, they will show you where
they believe that John took care of Mary,
the mother of Jesus, until she finally
left this life. So we know he was there. And when Jesus was crucified, John witnessed the ultimate
expression of grace. This was the most unsettling
expression of grace at all. This was the moment that
put amazing in grace. Here’s what he saw. The text tells us that
there were two men crucified along with Jesus. Both of them were criminals. They were led out with
Him to be executed. 1st century religion and
1st century politicians decided they had to get rid of grace and truth in a body. It is so uncomfortable,
isn’t it? The text continues. When they came to the place
called the Skull, or Golgotha, they crucified Him there. And as we’ve said before, there’s no detail given because everyone who heard this had seen it, smelled it, seen the aftermath
of a crucifixion. There was no reason
to give details. None were necessary. Along with the criminals,
one on His right and one on His left. And then here’s one
of those phrases that if you read
the New Testament, you read right by it,
but this is horrifying. This is so disgusting and yet this is you, this is me because this is what
we do, isn’t it? This is a detail that reminds me that John is not
writing a fantasy. This isn’t a once upon a time in a village far far away. This is what he saw. And as he dictates his story, he says, and it was horrible because a crowd gathered and the people stood and they watched. And the rulers even sneered. And they said to
Jesus and each other, He saved others. Let Him save Himself if He’s supposedly God’s
Messiah, the Chosen One, because they understood
that this is what He either claimed for Himself or the people closest
to Him claimed for Him. And then one of the criminals, one of the criminals
who hung there hurled insults at Jesus. He was gonna take his venom, he was gonna take his vengeance, he was gonna take his anger
all the way to death with him, but the other
criminal rebuked him and he said the most
interesting thing. And I believe that
these statements weren’t together in
a nice neat paragraph with a period at the end. Because what we understand
about crucifixion, there may have been
multiple seconds or maybe even
minutes between each of these utterances. Because you had to build up an extraordinary amount of nerve to raise yourself up to take it, to inhale and to speak
was terribly painful, and to breath was
terribly painful. And he says, Don’t
you fear God (exhales) since you are under
the same sentence? We are punished,
this is amazing, justly, for we are getting
what our deeds deserve. But this man, who they knew, had heard of, has
done nothing wrong. In other words, if
the kingdom of heaven is reserved for good people, if the kingdom of heaven is
reserved for righteous people, if the kingdom of
heaven is reserved for people who get
it right every time, his acknowledgement was, we have no hope and no chance. His only hope was what
he deserved the least. Something he had extended
very little of to other people during his life. So in an act of desperation, Jesus, he says, when You come to Your kingdom, because there’s no
doubt in my mind that where You’re
going is different from where we’re going. Jesus, there’s no
doubt in my mind that You are a King. Jesus, when You come
into Your kingdom, would You remember me? To which the people in the
audience who could overhear these whispered
conversations from the cross had to think, why? I mean, why, I mean, what a
ridiculous thing to ask. I mean, is he repenting? I mean, repenting from a
cross is meaningless, right? Rededication, you know? From now on. Hey from now’s about
30 minutes, okay? There’s no point
in rededicating. There’s no way to
make restitution. There’s no way to do
anything good for the rest of your meaningless,
despicable little life. There’s nothing to promise,
there’s nothing to offer. You have no bargaining power with man or God. And then in this
moment, Jesus disturbs the order of things. Jesus introduces
that unsettling thing that His followers
were so accustomed to but never did they imagine in their wildest dreams
that He would take it to this extreme. He interferes with
this man’s karma and He does the unthinkable. He listened and He responded. Jesus, the text
says, answered him. Let me ask you a question. Does God hear the
prayers of sinners? Yes, those are the only
kinds of prayers there are. Jesus answered him, but why even acknowledge him? Every word cost Jesus dearly. Ever breath was combined with or associated with
excruciating pain. But He answers anyway. And do you know why? Because that’s what grace does. Grace answers anyway. Truly I tell you, Jesus said. Truly I tell you, today you will be
with Me, exhale. And the criminal thought, That’s the problem. I’m with You here. (congregation laughing) In paradise. Holiness with human hands promised a man who had done nothing good and had nothing good to offer. Holiness with human hands offered a man who had no
bargaining power this promise. Where I’m going, you’re going. He grants a last minute request. He grants a request to
a last minute convert. He grants a request
that essentially says, You are gonna have the
same eternity as Stephen, who will later be stoned
because of his faith in Me. You’re gonna have the
same eternity as Peter, who followed Me these last
three and a half years. And why? Why would Jesus do this? I think this was
mind-boggling to John and to Peter and the
other men in the crowd. I mean, how? I mean, we’ve, the woman in
adultery, that’s one thing. I mean, asking Matthew
to follow is one thing. This is like a whole
nother thing, why? And here’s what I
want you to hear if you don’t hear
anything else I say today. Because like life, grace is not fair. Like life, grace is not fair. It is better than fair. It is disturbingly
better than fair. It is unsettlingly
better than fair. I mean, Jesus will
continue this. After His resurrection,
this is unbelievable if you know the narrative. After the resurrection,
Jesus pulls Peter aside and Peter is overcome
with shame and guilt. I mean, when Jesus was
arrested, Peter fled. When he was asked, Do you
even know who Jesus is? Peter denies even knowing Jesus and Jesus pulls
Peter aside and says, Peter, I’m putting you in
charge with the whole thing. Nobody was less deserving. Very soon after that, maybe
a few months after that or a year after that, Jesus
recruits Saul of Tarsus who was trying to
dismantle and destroy the entire Jesus movement. And Jesus recruits
Saul of Tarsus. Calls him Paul. We know him as the Apostle Paul. And He allowed him to write
about half the New Testament. Why? This was Jesus’ way of
saying over and over and over that I am the person
who brings grace and truth, not in half measure. Not the mix of,
not the blend of. Full on grace, full on truth. I’m all grace and all
truth all the time because that’s what love is and I am love personified. Now, your pushback on this,
we’ll talk about this next week, so don’t miss next time. Your pushback on this and my
pushback on this is simple. This is why it’s so unsettling. Wait, did Jesus not, I mean,
those are cool stories, Andy, and you’ve
made it emotional. I get all that. But hey, was Jesus not
concerned about justice? And was Jesus not concerned
about consequences? No, that’s not the issue. Jesus knew better than anyone about justice and consequences. You know what He knew? He knew that God’s justice would crush us because all have sinned and nobody can pay God back. And Jesus wasn’t
unaware of consequences. He knew better than anybody that consequences, the
consequences of sin, were already crushing us because every single sin, every single sin, whether you believe
in sin or not. Whether you believe in
New Testament sin or not, regardless of how
you view the world, every single sin, and if you’ve lived, if you’re an adult,
you’ve experienced this. Maybe you didn’t
use these words. Every single sin
comes pre-packaged with a gotcha. Every sin has a gotcha. Every single one. And so Jesus, in His
grace and in His mercy, at Christmas came to getcha. See, this is why. This is why I don’t know why everybody wouldn’t want it to be true because when grace
is on display, and if you would
open yourself up to even consider
the possibility. You don’t have to
admit it to anyone. To consider the possibility that there is a Creator
God who has invited you to talk to Him and
to reflect with Him and to communicate with Him as if He is a perfect
Heavenly Father and that He is known
for His grace and truth that dropped down in
the person of Jesus, why wouldn’t we want this to be true? When grace is on display,
people will want it to be true before they ever
believe it’s true. Jesus said it this way. It’s one of my favorite
verses in the New Testament. Luke 16:16. This is so powerful. This is Jesus kinda summarizing the transition between the Old Testament
and the new covenant that He came to establish. He said this. The Law and the Prophets, that’s what we would
call the Old Testament. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Not John, who wrote
the gospel of John. John the Baptist. He said, Up until the time that John the Baptist showed up to announce My coming, up until that time, the Law and the Prophets
were proclaimed. But since that time, since the end of
the old covenant, since the day I set foot on
Planet Earth as an adult, since that time, this is so powerful, the good news of
the kingdom of God is being preached and everyone is forcing
their way into it. And that is exactly what
happened historically. It’s why 2000 years later we are here. That when people
caught a glimpse of what was actually
being offered, they leaned in, hoping, looking for
evidence of the fact that this is in fact an act of God in the course of human history. The good news that
Jesus referred to is embodied in a person, Jesus. And the good news is
summarized in a word and it’s our word. It’s the word grace. And grace is an invitation. It’s an invitation very
much like the invitation that Jesus extended to Matthew. It’s an invitation
that goes like this. I know all about you, the good and the bad and I want you to follow Me. But be warned. If you follow Me, I
will lead you away from your sin. And no, I have not forgotten what you’ve done. It’s better than that. I remember all of it and I love you anyway. Now come, follow Me.

Bernard Jenkins

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