What was it about Jesus that men were willing to follow him to their deaths?
Was he harsh? Sometimes, yes, particularly to religious hypocrites.
Was he honest? Brutally so. “You’ve had five husbands…”
Did he expect sacrifice? Risk? “If anyone would follow me let him take up his cross…”
But it was not these apparent hard things that defined him. We know from John chapter one that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Listen to these words from The Message , Matthew 11:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I love the phrase, “the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Grace is undeserved favor. I don’t merit it, didn’t earn it, don’t need a qualification for it beyond my own need (believe me, according to this standard, I’m qualified, summa cum laude!). The ability to accept someone unconditionally (grace) is what gives them the power to change.
Grace isn’t a one time, got-grace-at-the-altar experience. It is the ongoing characteristic of God that determines his every interaction with his children. It is present behind every good time. And every hard trial.
Just because the road has gotten hard doesn’t mean his grace has lapsed. No, it may be disguised in a cloak of suffering. We may not see it for what it is on this side of eternity, but I believe God’s character of grace is unchanging. His actions to us whether roses or trials, reflect his goodness and love towards sinners (us!).
Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11 is open. Come and rest. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Have a great weekend.