God’s Love Letters #1   3 comments

I have so often misconstrued Scripture, oblivious to the grace that created each thought, that I found I could not read the Bible without feeling condemned.  My legalistic filter poisoned the Bible for me.  I studied it so diligently and thoroughly from this skewed perspective, that every re-reading of its pages undermined my hold on grace.  I have gone several years now without any regular reading of Scripture.  It has been just me and God (with Kimberly’s help) working to free me from this darkness.  I think I have gotten enough grounding in grace that I can return to the Word to discover freshly its life-giving power.  I’d like to share with others the grace I discover in these pages.

Matthew 1:1  This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Matthew’s genealogy was written for the Jews, and so we assume he wrote it as he did (beginning with Abraham instead of Adam, for instance) to tap into the Jewish sense of identity and even pride in their ancestry.  I was beguiled by Jewish veneration of David and Abraham into forgetting their great failures, which the Bible intimately describes.  When Matthew highlights the marred women in Jesus’ ancestry, I see a wink from God, as though he took as much pleasure with the seedy side of his Son’s family line as the royal side.  Israeli ancestry was passed down through the father, so Matthew carefully traces Jesus genealogy from Abraham through David straight down to Joseph… but at the last moment seems to dismiss its relevance by remarking that Joseph was not Jesus’ father anyway (biologically speaking).  Even the greatest heroes, anointed prophets and kings, passed on nothing of their character, authority, power, or greatness through their bloodlines to Jesus. Rather all flowed the other way, from Christ to them. Jesus is not presented here as the greatest of a long line of great men. He is juxtaposed against all others—all others are sinners and he the only Savior; all others receive grace, he alone is the source of grace.

So when Matthew begins by calling Jesus the Son of David and of Abraham, he does not only want us to call to mind their greatness, but also their failures.  THEY TOO needed a Savior.  The story of God’s grace is so profound in both these men’s lives.  Abraham, as Paul repeatedly reminds us, was declared righteous not by his goodness, but by faith.  This justification and life he received was not the reward of faith, as though faith is such a wonderful thing that it calls for the reward of eternal life.  Faith was merely the access point for grace, like a receiver for radio signals or a solar panel to absorb the sunrays, or an open hand to accept a gift offered.  Abraham did not earn anything by some virtue of faith, for faith itself is a gift.  In his natural self he was rather characterized by unbelief, not only regarding Ishmael, but even Isaac’s birth.

David was also deeply flawed,  a murderer and adulterer (both capital crimes).  The Psalms pour out his acknowledgment of his sinfulness and need for God’s grace.  I have seen David as a hero to emulate, a man responsible for his own goodness and greatness, as though his title, “man after God’s own heart,” was about David replicating God’s virtues rather than God’s own heart being infused into David.  Abraham and David were two of our greatest, but both knew they needed a Savior–that is what I want to emulate: a conviction of my neediness.  I am on spiritual par with the holiest and greatest saints in history:  the ground is all level at the foot of the cross, and we not only start our spiritual journey there but end it there as well.  We all come from the gutter and end up in the palace, crowned as royalty, and the only bridge from that beginning to that ending is grace.

God built the bridge; we walk over it.


Posted January 5, 2012 by janathangrace in Bible Grace

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3 responses to “God’s Love Letters #1

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  1. Very nicely put.

  2. Thanks, Greg. I am amazed out how filtered in my interpretation of Scripture was most of my life.

  3. I wonder if what we see is less important than how we see what we see.

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