Updated: Apr 12, 2020
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth... And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:14; 16, 17 NKJV).
When God chose the Israelites to be His special people, he promised to dwell among them. Through Moses, he gave the Law (Torah) which established the nation of Israel as his “peculiar” people. The Law distinguished Israel from all the other nations and taught the Israelites how to live as God’s chosen people. Moses became known as the lawgiver because he delivered God’s instructions to the people.
Although the law regulated their outward behavior, it did not prevent the Israelites from disobeying God. Therefore, along with the law, God gave Moses instructions to build the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a temporary structure that had to be moved whenever the Israelites camped in a different location. However, its existence assured the people that God was with them wherever they went.
God’s promise to dwell permanently among his people was fully realized in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. One of the names given to Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. What an astonishing revelation. The truth that was symbolized in the Old Testament became a reality at Jesus’ birth. The ritual sacrifices in the tabernacle pointed to the coming of the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, emphasis mine), never one at the expense of the other.
Jesus is both the fulfillment of God's law and the demonstration of his grace. The law reminds us of what God's holiness requires, while grace shows us the depth of God's love. As we look to Jesus, we not only have an example to live by but we also have the assurance that God’s promises are true. Just as he did in the tabernacle, God came to dwell among his people. More importantly, he came to pay the price for humanity's sin. Because Jesus died for our sins, we can enter into God’s presence without fear. Moreover, our faith in Jesus allows us to live eternally in the realm of God’s grace.
Jesus completed the work that Moses, through the law, could only foreshadow. As the mediator of the Old Covenant, Moses taught the people God’s law and dedicated the tabernacle. The law governed God’s relationship with his people, the tabernacle symbolized his presence among them. Together they provided a way for sinful humanity and a holy God to live together. At his incarnation, Jesus brought grace and truth together. His death completely fulfilled the law and abolished the animal sacrifices it demanded (Heb. 10:19-22).
The New Covenant is written in Jesus' blood. By his death, he opened a "new and living way" for humanity to approach God. This is the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:8). Grace does not attempt to diminish the holiness of God nor mitigate his demand for holiness from his people. Instead, it gives us the assurance that because Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law, we can receive the fullness of God's grace. Once we have experienced God’s grace, we must yield ourselves to its transformative power, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to faithful obedience to God’s word. Jesus fulfilled the law so that we could be free from its demands (2 Cor. 5:21). This incredible fact represents the fullness of grace and truth.