The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1:17 (ESV)
John continues with the theme of grace and truth in Jesus which he began in verse 14. What are we to make of this phrase comparing and contrasting Jesus and Moses? At a very minimum, we are to see that grace and truth are superior to the law, just as Jesus — the bearer of grace and truth — is superior to Moses — the bearer of the law. The covenant ruled by the law is inferior to the covenant ruled by grace and truth. The law is exacting. It is one size fits all. Grace and truth is personalized, and it is forgiving.
Some would suggest that grace and truth supplement the law. That is, the law is helped by grace and truth. I think the Good News is that grace and truth do not supplement the law, but replace the law. By this I mean that the law is no longer in effect for those who are under grace. The Apostle Paul argues this throughout his letter to the Galatians, and in some of what he wrote in his letter to the Romans and to the Colossians.
Those who try to live for the law can only fail, going through life condemned by the law. But those who live to please the Spirit are ones who can live life abundantly, who find the freedom and joy in life that Jesus intended. Those are the ones that embrace the grace and truth that Jesus offers. While it is difficult to let go of a life of rules that come from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, I am reveling in the freedom that comes from eating from the other tree in the Garden of Eden — the tree that Jesus came to restore — the tree of life.
First posted on January 25, 2010