The First Time You Come Face to Face with Grace
What is it about being close to Jesus and His mission that creates so much excitement, that the Bible calls it a “great joy?” Have you ever thought about your own faith journey and those beginning moments when you took your first breath as a young believer in the family of God? Do you remember breathing in that joy as you felt your spirit jump alive with "great joy"?
I remember sitting in a church after watching a drama play out in front of me to the tune of Love Song by Third Day. I remember that realization that Jesus had always been there, I just simply had not seen Him. I remember that giddy feeling after opening my heart to Him and allowing Him to be the Lord of my life. I remember feeling, for the first time in a very long time, I felt like I was understood, loved, and pulled in close to the heartbeat of God. In that moment, I did not feel alone. I felt accepted. I felt free.
What is it about being close to Jesus that brings with it the feeling of great joy? I believe this is the impact of coming face to face with grace!
This conversation in John 4 between Jesus and this woman from Samaria always gets me. She came into this conversation with what seems to be a million questions. She asks one after the other and Jesus prods her to look at a picture far bigger than what she was asking about. She asked about how her well could produce living water, but the bigger picture was that Jesus was that living water. She asked about where the Jewish people should worship, but the bigger picture was that it soon would not matter where you worshipped just that those who did worship did so in spirit and truth. When things seemed out of reach for her to understand, she says “I know the Messiah is coming. When He comes, He will tell us all things.” And Jesus' response further opened her eyes to a bigger work at play when He reveals Himself as that SAME Messiah.
Her eyes were opened and she finds herself face to face with grace. She is in the presence of grace and she finds her whole world has changed.
When we find our eyes opened and face to face with grace, we can not help but be changed. We can not help but feel that intense and unmistakable joy when we look into His loving eyes.
Here are three lessons we can learn about grace.
Grace is available for everyone, even for those we may not believe deserve it. Jesus had pointed out that she had had multiple husbands and the man she lived with now was not her husband. So often we think our sin holds us back from God’s love and grace, but instead, our sin is exactly why Jesus came to die for us. Jesus came out of love. In His grace and through His sacrifice, He closed the gap between us and God. Grace is available for everyone! No matter what we have done, Jesus extends that grace to us. It is up to us to accept it!
It is hard to be near grace and walk away unchanged. This woman left Jesus’ presence changed! She had come face to face with grace and would never be the same again. I think of my own faith journey and how Jesus changed my life. He extended grace to me. He made known His gift for me and I could not help but snatch it up in complete joy! I could not help but step into this new life as a new creation and allow His change to become permanent. When we discover the amazing treasure that Jesus is, we can not help but hang on for dear life and never let go.
Joy because of grace is contagious. Like so many others, she could not keep silent. When everything suddenly becomes clear as our eyes are opened and we find ourselves staring into the face of grace, joy is overwhelming. She could not wait to share the exciting news that Jesus was the Messiah with others. Because of her contagious joy, a whole town came to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus ends up spending a few days in Samaria and soon this town’s belief is not based on what this woman had said, soon it is based on Jesus and who He is.
How does our own faith and joy because of grace measure up? Have we come face to face with grace and have found ourselves changed because of who He is? Is our joy contagious? Are we naturally sharing our joy with others so that they have the opportunity to come to know and understand what Jesus did for all of us?