For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:9
I have yet to hear of a church which has a known thief for an accountant or treasurer. In our human weakness, we are unable to tolerate other men’s weaknesses. If we found out that our church accountant was taking money from the church funds, there is no question about the next step that we would take: we would hold a high-level board meeting; and we all know what would go on in that meeting.
I remember one time in our church organisation we thought someone was stealing from the church coffers. I am not saying we should not have confronted him. But the way we went about it, ultimately it is we who needed to repent!
But Jesus wouldn’t even bat an eyelid, let alone call any meeting, low or high level. I am sure that Jesus must have suffered in His heart for such a man as Judas and, even though He knew exactly what road Judas would take in the end, He must have beseeched God exceedingly on his behalf, hoping against hope that the man would have a turn of heart.
But Judas’ will was set in stone, and no power in heaven or on earth could turn him away from the path of rebellion he had chosen to follow. Judas is a lesson to all of us, just as Lot’s wife was. God has given us a free will and we have a responsibility to bear before Him.
Jesus had so much grace! He watched on as Judas repeatedly stole from the “apostolic fund”. And He wouldn’t say one word, nor lift a finger. Not a word about temporary dismissal or sacking of Judas. He stayed with the thieving Judas Iscariot until Judas voluntarily resigned from the job!
The team that comprised Jesus’ closest associates here on earth was a team that in the natural no one would desire to own. We all know about the “sons of thunder”. These two guys’ combined anger could have created a small nuclear bomb. Then there was Jesus’ top apostle, Peter, who had a sword permanently strapped to his side, ostensibly to “bodyguard” Jesus.
At no time did Jesus get fed up and call a council meeting, where He would have gone along the lines: “Now, you sons of Zebedee, you must control yourself! I am tired of all the ruckus you are creating around here. You are embarrassing us guys, can’t you see?”
And, “And you, Peter, my kingdom is a kingdom of peace and love, so I don’t want to see you with that sword”.
I often wonder about those other guys, the disciples about whom not much is written. You would be forgiven to think they were angels. But from what I know about human nature, they most likely were more problematic to Jesus than these three.
But I can assure you that even if there had been a million disciples, each with his own personal negative attributes, and had Jesus stayed with them here for a hundred more years, Jesus would never had changed His tune. He would still have had more than enough grace to bear with them.
Jesus was waiting. He was waiting for the time when God’s grace would be poured upon these men. He knew that once He had been sacrificed on the cross, God’s unlimited grace would be poured upon them and they would change. Jesus could wait.
The Man, Jesus, had grace! He was rich in grace!
Later on, after Christ had suffered and died and was resurrected, He poured His grace upon these same men and they also found themselves carrying the same grace that Jesus had. That was how they were able to manifest Christ to the world. They could even consider warning one another and talking of God’s judgement upon anyone who would take this grace in vain.
But do we ever consider the reason that Jesus had so much grace, something that is so elusive to many of us? I am sure that the reason Jesus had so much grace in His life while He was here on earth was because He carried a revelation of the cross in His heart. Yes, in His heart Jesus saw and understood the cross. He always talked to His disciples about His sufferings and His death.
But we also know that this thing was hidden from His disciples. That was the difference between Jesus and His disciples. He had a revelation of the cross; they did not.
And it is still the difference today.
We live in the most exciting time in the entire history of mankind, the period of grace. We should be going about our daily lives extremely happy and loving! But we should realize it is also the period of the revelation of the cross of Christ. It is the period where we are to gladly welcome the sufferings of Christ in our lives. It is the period where we are to die to self. This grace only comes where a death has taken place. That is when the power and wisdom of God is manifested in our lives.
There are probably people waiting to receive that grace in heaven. But we should have it right here on this rotten earth, just as Jesus did.
We are a generation that has no excuse for living any other life other than a life full of grace. We are not like the disciples of Jesus. Then they had no revelation. But today we have no excuse. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Notice the word “is” there. In other words, ‘It is finished, it is done.’ We only have one option. We should strive, with all the strength we have, to walk in this grace that has been poured upon us.
The Bible says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). Love is patient and kind. Love is also many other things.
Are we any of those things?