Here is a beautiful description of God’s grace and the gospel of Christ: “This incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” From Acts 20:24, this is the way an older pastor and Bible scholar interprets-translates the ending of Acts 20:24, describing the Apostle Paul’s gospel-sharing calling. 1
The Via Dolorosa – The Way of Christ’s Suffering
Another author I was reading yesterday stated, “Everything is grace.” 2 The biblicial concept of grace encapsulates the extravagances of God that we take for granted — the workings of our bodies, the sensory gifts, the gift of consciousness, cognition, emotion, volition…. (Note gratefully that even in sickness, more is working properly in our bodies than not!) Add all of creation, the harmonies of the universe. Consider the earth — soil that nurtures plant life, both edible and aesthetic! Why do colors, textures, tones, shapes, proportions and placements bring pleasure? Why beauty? Why enjoyment? Why do these “things” exist? Pure generosity.
Why do you exist? Why do you exist as you are, where you are, when you are? What did you have to do with it? Extravagant generosity.
On this Good Friday long ago, God gathered the sin and suffering of the universe into the life of our dying Savior, Jesus the Messiah. It is good to meditate on God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s incredibly extravagant generosity. Life. New life in Christ. Everything is grace.
Ahh. While I’ve referenced Christ’s sufferings, I have not listed our sufferings. What do we do with suffering — ours and Christ’s? How could anyone claim that “everything is grace”? Graced with suffering, pain, and devastation? The theme of Good Friday is the Suffering of Christ. “Good” is the description of this horrible day. I find it difficult to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ arrest, trial, treatment, and execution via crucifixion. I deplore these chapters, though my own sin constituted my portion of His pain, and I am endlessly grateful for His incredibly extravagant generosity toward me.
Hebrews 12: 2 and 3 explain what is good about suffering.
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”
We would do well to meditate, meditate on these verses and on His incredibly extravagant generosity toward us.
Here are these verses plus a few more from Hebrews as interpreted-translated for us by this older pastor.
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed — that exhilarating finish in and with God — he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame,whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-10. Oh, you should read the entire chapter!)
“May God, who puts all things together,
Makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you
with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure,
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
Oh, yes, yes, yes.”
(Hebrews 13:20-21 – a prayer; read that whole chapter too! Read these chapters in several versions.)
The following praise song may speak the grateful language of your heart as it does with mine:
My Tribute, by Andrea Crouch
How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me —
Things so undeserved, yet You give to prove your love for me?
The voices of a million angles could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee!
To God be the glory, to God be the glory,
To God be the glory for the things He has done.
With His blood He has saved me; with His power, He has raised me.
To God be the glory for the things He has done.
Just let me live my life; let it be pleasing, Lord, to Thee.
And should I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary!
To God be the glory!
Yes, this incredibly extravagant generosity of our God toward us!
1 Eugene Peterson, The Message. Read in the preface of The Message about what brought Dr. Peterson to the place of preparing this work. He reminds me of Ezra and those who read the Scriptures to the Jewish people, “translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8 NASB).
2 Henri Nouwen, Turn My Mourning into Dancing. The entire sentence is this: “I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace” (p. 19). On page 17, Nouwen observes that “true gratitude embraces all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and the not-so-holy. We do this because we become aware of God’s life, God’s presence in the middle of all that happens.”
thank-you Karen. Sam’s mom moved into Heaven March 20th. We were blessed to be with her as she took her last breath on earth and her first one with Jesus. The experience was life-changing for me; showed me how closely we walk in the reality of eternity…..one breath away. All because of Grace- how profound that word really is- and something that i don’t think we will ever truly completely comprehend, and perhaps that is for the best. To God be the Glory! (my Gramma always requested that I play that for her 🙂