What Makes Grace, Grace?
By Ed Delph
April 17, 2023
Last week, before Easter, I decided to revisit an old friend. My friend is a book, entitled God Came Near by Max Lucado. I call the book my old friend because I grew so much from reading God Came Near years ago. So rereading the book before Easter was like renewing an old friendship. What the book contains was good then and even better now.
Here’s a story from Scripture in the book, told by Max Lucado in his unique style, that caught my ‘spiritual attention.’ Read on.
"By the time she got to Jesus, she had nothing left. The doctors had taken her last dime. The diagnosis had stolen her last hope. And the hemorrhage had robbed her of her last drop of energy. She had no more money, no more friends, and no more options. With the end of her rope in one hand and a wing and a prayer in her heart, she shoved her way through the crowd. When her hand touched Jesus' garment, a transfusion occurred. He felt it go out, and she felt it go in.
"It didn't bother Jesus that the woman came to him as a last resort. To him, it mattered only that she came. Jesus knows that it takes a lot of reality to snap us to our senses with some of us, so he didn't keep a time clock. Those who scramble in at quitting time get the same wage as those who beat the morning whistle. I guess that's what makes grace, grace."
I like this account of this broke as well as broken woman with an incurable hemorrhage. (Luke 8:43-47) The first part of the story is about the works of God. Jesus can heal those with broken bodies, hopes, and homes. Restoration comes from God, through Jesus, to others. As she touched Jesus with her faith, God’s needle of love and thread of hope stitched her wounded soul and body back together. Jesus knew it, and she knew it.
The second paragraph elevates us to the high ground of knowing the ways of God. However, what caught my attention was the last two sentences in the second paragraph. “Those who scramble in at quitting time get the same wage as those who beat the morning whistle. I guess that’s what makes grace, grace.”
Each of these sentences gives us an incredible insight into the ways of God. I want us to know God, not just know about God. God’s works are for knowing about God. God’s ways are for knowing God. There’s a big difference here.
So, let's not glance but gaze deeply at the first sentence. “Those who scramble in at quitting time get the same wage as those who beat the morning whistle.” Max Lucado is referring to a parable in the Scriptures in Matthew 20. Read on.
“God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a dollar wage a day and went to work. Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to work in his vineyard and would pay them a fair wage. They went. He did the same thing at noon and again at three o'clock and five o'clock.
"When the day's work ended, the vineyard owner instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.' Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar.
"When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Then, taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, 'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who struggled all day under a scorching sun.'
"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So, take it and go. I decided to give it to the one who came last, the same as you. Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?' So here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."
Remember in the story where it didn’t matter that the woman with the hemorrhage came to Jesus as a last resort? What mattered to Jesus was that she came. That’s the way God feels about us. Sure, many people have been hanging with Jesus for a long time. And they will get their crown of salvation too.
But many need more time to come to their senses. Salvation is available to all who call upon the Lord, even if an older brother is scoffing at the return of the prodigal younger brother. The wages are the same for both. So, if you think it's too late to come to Christ, come anyway. It’s not too late to receive your crown of salvation. God Came Near to us to prove that every sinner has a future; every saint has a past. That’s a way of God.
Why is this a way of God? I guess that’s what makes grace, grace.
Next week, we will explore the second sentence.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com