July 20 I Monday
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” —Titus 2:11-12, ESV
When we study the Gospels, we will notice a repeated pattern in Jesus’s ministry. We see Jesus captivating those who were on the fringes of religious society such as the sick and the diseased, the Samaritan woman, and tax collectors and sinners. But there are also people who were frustrated with Jesus because He overturned the temple system, upsetting the temple priests and the leadership in Jerusalem. In fact, the whole town of Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus off a cliff and kill Him at the end of His sermon. Even the experts of the law, scribes and Pharisees—those who were theologically trained—were provoked by Jesus.
Why? Because Jesus was doing all these miraculous signs and wonders, revealing that God was clearly doing extraordinary things through Him. Not only so, Jesus declared Himself as “God among us,” yet we find Him hanging out with the dregs of society, the social underclass. It is as though Jesus had it all backwards. He was making enemies with the religiously clean and befriending the people that a proper Jew would not associate with.
We find multiple occasions of Jesus connecting with the crowds who were on the fringes of religious society. This was challenging the theology of the day because the Jews were taught that these people were exactly who God wanted nothing to do with. Have we taken a step back and just wondered at how big and vast God’s grace is, powerful enough to transform even the most unlikely person?
God’s grace is amazing and it should always astound us. “Amazing Grace” is a popular Christian song written by John Newton. He used to be a slave trader, bringing slaves from Africa to England over multiple trips until he became violently ill on a sea voyage and decided to abandon being a slave trader and devoted his whole life to God. Like Jesus, Newton went against the cultural norm. He fought alongside William Wilberforce, a leader of the parliamentary campaign to abolish the African slave trade. Newton lived to see the British passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807. When we sing these words do we think of the story behind the hymn?
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Like Newton, may we ever be amazed and captivated by the grace of our Saviour who calls the most unlikely person into a relationship with Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord God, I am amazed and captivated by Your grace that has called me into relationship with You. May I extend Your love and grace to each person I encounter. Thank You, Lord.