IN describing the coming of Christ, John says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” In Jesus Christ, all the attributes of God are seen; veiled, but yet verily there. You have only to read the Gospels, and to look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. It is veiled in human flesh, as it must be; for the glory of God is not to be seen by us absolutely. It is toned down to these dim eyes of ours; but the Godhead is there, the perfect Godhead in union with the perfect manhood of Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
The two Divine things which are more clearly seen in Jesus than aught else are “grace and truth.” Christ did not simply come to tell us about grace, but actually to bring us grace. He is not merely full of the news of grace and truth, but of grace and truth themselves. Others had been messengers of gracious tidings, but He came to bring grace. Others teach us truth, but Jesus is the truth. He is that grace and truth whereof others spake. Jesus is not merely a Teacher, an Exhorter, a Worker of grace and truth; but these heavenly things are in Him, and He is full of them.
Christ has brought us grace in rivers and truth in streams; and the two rivers unite in the one fullness of grace and truth. That is to say, the grace is truthful grace; not grace in fiction, or in fancy, not grace to be hoped for or to be, dreamed of, but grace every atom of which is fact ; redemption which does redeem, pardon which does blot out sin, renewal which actually regenerates, salvation which completely saves. We have not in Christ the mere shadows of blessings, which charm the eye, yet cheat the soul; but real, substantial favors from God who cannot lie.
Christ has come to bring us grace and truth; that is to say, it is not the kind of truth which censures, condemns, and punishes; it is gracious truth, truth steeped in love truth saturated with mercy. The truth which Jesus brings to His people comes from the mercy-seat. There is grace to God’s people in everything that falls from the lips of Jesus Christ. His lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. Myrrh in itself is bitter, but such is the grace of our Lord Jesus that His lips impart sweetness to it. See how grace and truth thus blend, and qualify each other. The grace is all true, and the truth is all gracious. This is a wondrous compound made according to the art of the Divine Apothecary; where else is grace so true, or truth so gracious?
Furthermore, grace and truth are blessedly balanced in Christ. He is full of grace; but, then, He has not neglected that other quality which is somewhat sterner, namely, that of truth. I have known many people in this world who have been very loving and affectionate, but then they have not been faithful; on the other hand, I have known men who were sternly honest and truthful, but they have not been gentle and kind; but, in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no defect either way. He is full of grace which doth invite the publican and the sinner to Himself; but He is full of truth which doth repel the hypocrite and Pharisee. He does not hide from man a truth however terrible it may be, but He plainly declares the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. But when He has spoken terrible truth, He has uttered it in such a gracious and tender manner, with so many tears of compassion for the ignorant and those that are out of the way, that you are as much won by His grace as you are convinced by His truth. Our Lord’s ministry is not truth alone, nor grace alone; but it is a balanced, wellordered system of grace and truth. The Lord Himself is both King of righteousness and King of peace. He does not even save unjustly, nor does He proclaim truth unlovingly. Grace and truth are equally conspicuous in Him..
But these qualities are also in our Lord to the full. He is “full of grace.”
Who could be more so? In the person of Jesus Christ, the immeasurable grace of God is treasured up. God has done for us, by Christ Jesus, exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or even think. It is not possible for our imagination to conceive of anyone more gracious than God in Christ Jesus; and there is an equal fullness of truth about our Lord. He Himself, as He comes to us as the revelation and manifestation of God, declares to us, not some truth, but all truth. All of God is in Christ; and all of God means all that is true, and all that is right, and all that is faithful, and all that is just, all that is according to righteousness and holiness. There is no truth hidden from us, that might have alarmed us, nor anything that might have shaken our confidence in Christ; nor, on the other hand, is any truth kept back which might have increased our steadfastness. He said to His disciples, concerning the glories of His Father’s house above, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Ask not, with Pilate, “ What is truth?” but behold it in God’s dear Son. All truth and all grace dwell in Christ in all their fullness beyond conception, and the two lie in each other’s bosoms for ever, to bless us with boundless, endless joy and glory.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is also full of grace and truth in this sense, that He truthfully deals with matters of fact relating to our salvation. I know the notion of the world is; that the salvation of Christ is a pretty dream, a fine piece of sentiment; but there is nothing dreamy about it: it is no fiction; it is fact upon fact. The Lord Jesus Christ does not gloss over or conceal the condition of man in order to secure his salvation. He finds man condemned, and condemned in the very worst sense, condemned for a capital offense; and as man’s Substitute, He endures the capital penalty, and dies in the sinner’s stead. The Lord Jesus views the sinner as depraved, yea, as dead in trespasses and sins, and He quickens him by His own resurrection life. He does not wink at the result of the Fall, and at the guilt of actual sin; but He comes to the dead sinner, and gives him life; He touches the diseased heart, and heals it.
To me, the Gospel is a wonderful embodiment of omnipotent wisdom and truth. If the Gospel had said to men, “The law of God is certainly righteous, but it is too stern, too exacting, and therefore God will wink at many sins, and make provision for salvation by omitting to punish much of human guilt,” we should always have been in jeopardy. If God could be unjust to save us, He could also be changeable, and cast us away. If there was anything rotten in the God-made structure of our salvation, we should fear that it would fail us at last. But the building is secure, and the foundation is sure, for the Lord has excavated down to the solid rock. He has taken away all sentiment and sham, and His salvation is real and substantial throughout. It is a glorious salvation of grace and truth, in which God takes the sinner as he is, and deals with him as he is; yea, and deals with the sinner as God is, on the principles of true righteousness; and yet saves him, because the Lord deals with him in the way of grace, and that grace encourages a great many hopes, and those hopes are all realized, for they are based upon God’s truth.