Why Didn’t Jesus Say Anything About Grace?
Think of something Jesus said about grace while he was on earth. Anything. Stumped? That’s because, so far as we know, he didn’t mention grace at all during his ministry here. Seriously, nowhere in Scripture does it record that he even uttered the word while he walked the planet.
This is surprising, seeing as the church makes so much of grace.
It has caused me to wonder why didn’t Jesus talk about grace more? I think there are some compelling answers to that question.
The reality is that Jesus talked about grace, even if he might not have used the word. Grace can bedefined as “God’s unmerited favour to us, because of Jesus.” Or, as I learned in Awana so many years ago, “G.R.A.C.E. = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” With this in mind, we can hear grace flowing in much of what Jesus said.
- Jesus taught about grace in His parables
Jesus’ primary teaching method was telling stories, and many of these parables have the thread of grace woven throughout. The parables of The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Wedding Feast, the Two Debtors, and more, all resound of grace without using the word.
- Jesus talked about grace with people
He told the woman caught in adultery, “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” That was grace. When Jesus told the royal official, “You may go. Your son will live,” that was grace too. When he told the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” we see grace again. Read Jesus’ conversations with ordinary people and you’ll see grace.
- Jesus embodied grace in His person
The apostle John says that Jesus came, “full of grace and truth,” and that “from the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Jesus personified grace. If you want to see grace in action, read the gospels and look at Jesus. In fact, nowhere do we see the grace of Jesus displayed more than at the cross.
It’s no wonder the church sings of “amazing grace!” And well we should.
As a final note: It’s important to understand the connection we see in Scripture between grace and sin. Eph. 2:4-5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions [sins]—it is by grace you have been saved. While Jesus spoke of grace (even if he didn’t use the word), he also spoke about sin, and called people to repentance. The Gospel of Mark records that the heart of the message Jesus preached was, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” The heart of the gospel is grace, to which we respond in repentance and faith. This is the good news of Scripture. Yet, it’s possible to water down the grace of Jesus by ignoring his call to repent.
Dietrich Bonnhoeffer said, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
In response to all of this I will sing all the more of Jesus’ amazing grace. I know the depth of my depravity, and the magnitude of the forgiveness of my sin. I’m becoming increasingly aware of the riches of His grace, although it is a subject that I’m not sure I will ever fully grasp.
For the record:
There is one instance where Scripture records that Jesus uses the word grace, but it is after his resurrection and ascension. In 2Cor. 12:7 the Apostle Paul says, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
May we find His grace sufficient!