Grace Upon Grace (John 1:16)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. — John 1:16 (ESV).

We saw in verse 14 how Jesus was “full of grace and truth”. Now we see that one way Jesus demonstrates this fullness is through pouring out to His followers “grace upon grace”. This means literally that He pours out his blessings to us again and again and again, in ways we never expected or anticipated. This speaks not only of sufficiency but of abundance.

Grace can mean “unmerited favor”, and one way to understand “grace upon grace” is that Jesus has given us incredible favor with God. Whereas before Jesus came, we were distant from God, because of the gifts emanating from fullness of Jesus, we are brought to incredible closeness to God. As it says elsewhere in the New Testament, we are invited right up to His throne to be with Him, and we don’t have to be ashamed of ourselves when we are there. Indeed, we are told to be bold in going there, and are told that we are welcome to even sit on the throne with Jesus, not just in the future age, but now.

It is interesting to note that the Greek word used for each of the graces in “grace upon grace” is “charis”, which is often translated “gifts”, and is the word from which “charisma” and “charismatic” comes from. God has granted us and continues to grant us gift after gift.

The verb tense used by John indicates that we have already received these gracious gifts. This doesn’t imply that Jesus has stopped pouring them out, but it ought to give us pause. If we have received such blessings, have we even recognized in our own minds what we have received? And if we have, have we been sufficiently thankful to God? I don’t know that we could ever be sufficiently thankful, but I know that in my life — and I suspect in yours, too — I have not taken time to count my blessings and to go to my God with thanksgiving.

First posted on December 10, 2009


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