Several years ago, I learned something that has really helped me both personally and pastorally. In the very beginning of John we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)” Sometimes we try to strike a balance between grace and truth. I personally pride myself with always trying to err on the side of grace with people and in situations.. But, we, as followers of Jesus, also believe in truth. What you’ll find in the life and ministry of Jesus is how he did not strike a balance between grace and truth. He was the full embodiment of both.
In John 8, Jesus brought the full measure of grace and truth to both the religious leaders and the woman caught in adultery. Grace-“you are not condemned”. You are free! Truth-“go and sin no more”. Grace doesn’t dumb down sin to make it more easy to digest. Grace doesn’t have to. The purpose of truth isn’t to isolate people from God or from his people either. As we follow Jesus through his ministry, we find him acknowledging the full implications of sin and yet not condemning sinners. The only group he consistently condemned were the graceless religious people, those who misused truth to control people through guilt, fear, and condemnation.
It’s easy to be an all-truth Christian. It’s when you focus on all the rules, become legalistic, and are very nasty to people. It may be even easier to be an all-grace Christian. It’s when you ignore sin and only tweet parts of the Bible that are easy to swallow. Tolerance becomes the highest virtue and truth is thrown out the window. Jesus didn’t leave either option on the table. Nor should we.
The woman in John 8 met someone who knew exactly who she was and what she had done. All of it. And yet, despite Jesus’ awareness, he did not treat her as an object to make a point or a pawn to manipulate. Jesus spoke the truth. And he set her free to go and sin no more (grace).
No matter how often we come to Jesus burdened and fallen again, he is willing to say to us, “Go and sin no more.” Every single time. That’s the power of grace and truth.