Today we will look at a theme that runs through the entire gospel of John, the theme of GRACE.
This theme is first sounded in the Prologue, when John explains that the very character and nature of God is reflected in Jesus:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Exactly what is grace? Grace can be defined as favor or blessing that is bestowed as a gift, without being earned.
John is telling us that this beauteous generosity is part of the essence of God's very nature, so of course it characterizes His dealings with us.
And from his fullness we have all
received grace upon grace. (John 1:14-16)
In other words, because of who God is, He has given us favor we don't deserve, and He will keep on lavishing that grace upon us.
Grace is at the root of John 3:16 that says that "God so loved the world that He gave..." Over and over we see how God gives to us out of His own nature, a nature of love.
Grace is the core of what Jesus was trying to communicate to Nicodemus and to the woman at the well.
Nicodemus needed to hear about grace because he had bought into a behavior-based system where people had to try to work their way into being acceptable. Jesus sought to free him from this performance trap by explaining that coming into eternal life was more like a birth. And that birth would bring him into the very family of God. As a son, he would not have to work for acceptance. "But to all who receive Jesus, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)
The woman at the well needed to hear the message of grace even more desperately, for she had fallen to a place where she likely felt that she could never be acceptable. But because grace is based on God's love and character, it didn't matter what she had done. Jesus encouraged her to ask for the living water, she would be changed internally through His gift.
The GRACE that Jesus offers is really AMAZING. We don't need to worry that our self-worth, our success, our security, or even that our salvation is based on our behavior.
Do you know that God loves you and freely gives grace upon grace?
When you grasp that truth you can be free indeed. Free from fear and striving.