A few weeks ago, I was invited to write a wee reflection for our church’s weekly devotion. Here’s a bit of what I wrote:
Jesus was not playing semantic games with us when he declared, ‘He who has seen me, has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). There is no God behind Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we see the full brunt of God’s attitude to us, and it is one of unbridled grace. There is no shadow side to God’s love, as if God might be schizophrenic, or somehow different from the one who ‘stretched out his hand and touched’ lepers (Matt 8:2), or healed the Centurion’s paralysed servant (Matt 8:13), or who gave a widow’s dead son back to his mother (Luke 7:11–17), or who had his feet washed with the tears of a prostitute (if this is what she was; Luke 7:38).
The incarnation of God into our broken and insolent world flows out of the undivided heart of a Father who has spared nothing in order that we might know his forgiveness, and so life. God did not have to be bribed or appeased into forgiving us. That’s not why Jesus died. Jesus died that God might treat sinners he loves as daughters and sons, seeing us free from all that keeps us entangled in our shame, pain, isolation and guilt. Jesus died that we might – by the same eternal Spirit through whom Jesus ‘offered himself without blemish to God’ (Heb. 9:14) – know the purification of our consciences from dead works and be set free to serve the living God.
Ah … grace!