We’ll soon be wrapping up this particular series, but this week and next let’s consider a couple of critical applications. After all, grace isn’t amazing until it’s experienced.
So what does grace look like? Well, in a nutshell, it looks like Christ. Do you remember when, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus took the posture of a slave and washed His disciples’ nasty feet? How strange! The God-Man, instead of controlling or manipulating others for His own advantage, chose to love them “to the end” (John 13:1). That is real love.
He could have told everybody off for their obvious failures of both faith and fidelity, not to mention all their other sins, but He did not. There is no comfort or support for Jesus at the moment of His deepest need for someone to care about Him, but He loves anyway. Wrapped in a humble loincloth is grace on display. Totally selfless love stooped, literally, all the way to the ground.
We know from the text that the schemes of Judas to betray our Lord for a cash reward are already well underway. And Peter, without an ounce of self-awareness, will soon deny Christ in order to protect himself. It will be ugly and awful, but none of it will stop the love of God in Christ. He loves the totally self-absorbed all the way to the Cross.
Can you imagine, for a moment, Jesus actually washing the feet of His betrayer? On the same night when the disciples are arguing about who among them is the superstar, Jesus literally strips Himself to show them what humble love is really all about. He shows us too, there before the feet of the one whose heart is already on the way out the door.
Perhaps the greatest enemy of your own life of love, and mine, is our desire to protect our own reputation. Think about it. In regard to themselves, the disciples chose honor. But in regard to Himself, Jesus chose shame. He would love others by the giving away of Himself. That makes absolutely no sense until we understand the gospel of grace.
Can I love an enemy?
Can I love someone who misrepresents me?
Can I love someone who has taken advantage of me, or even abused me?
These are the dilemmas we all face as we live in this fallen world. And they don’t get any easier. I think you can see that we can’t love in such hard circumstances without knowing how much we are loved. For five weeks I’ve tried to convince you that you can’t earn God’s love. Once you really grasp that, you can be free to love with a passion and power that were never yours!
This is our highest privilege, friends: to love as we’ve been loved! It defies all human reasoning. It tears down every wall. It shows a hopeless world, hope.