“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17)
The Gospel of John opens with a very poetic introduction, in which John explained to his readers a characteristic that made Jesus unique. Jesus was the Son of God Himself, and He had been in existence before the creation of the world. Indeed, Jesus is God, yet He chose to come to earth as a man to die for the sins of the world. Many would reject Him, but also many would receive Him. This is what John talks about in the opening paragraphs of his book, setting the stage for his stories of Jesus’ mighty works.
But before we can truly understand Jesus’ miracles, we must first know the answer to this question: Why? Why would God choose to come to earth, choose to enter the darkness of the world and shine like a light for all to see? Why would He allow Himself to be killed on behalf of a world that did not even know Him? Why would He do great things in the world, knowing that many times the people He helped wouldn’t even thank Him?
The answer lies in John 1:17: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The law of Moses is what the Jewish people based their lives on. It was the job of the scribes and Pharisees to teach the Law and ensure that everyone lived according to it. This was the only way the people knew to get to God, and they strove to obey the Law to the best of their ability, hoping that by their sacrifices and good works they could please their Lord.
But no matter how hard they worked to obey God, they would never be good enough to reach Him. The Law was never meant to save; rather, it was a tool God used to show His people their sin. The way to salvation lay not in good works, but rather by faith in the grace that God was about to pour out through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The message of salvation is really a very simple one. From the moment of our conception, we are bound by sin, tied to the Law and all its impossible requirements. We’re sinners from the very beginning of our lives, hopeless and dying in our rebellion against God. The only way we can be free of that sin is if God Himself forgives us of it. The Law is utterly unforgiving; but through Jesus, we can receive grace upon grace. This is why He came to earth, why He let Himself be mocked and tortured and killed. He loves us so much, to the point that He would rather die Himself than let us live without Him. His love knows no limits, and because of that He loves us even if we don’t care anything for Him. He freely offers us grace, the favor and forgiveness that we are so unworthy of. What an incredible, loving, astounding God He is!