Seems like a strange title for today’s message doesn’t it? What could the “sweet sounds of grace” possibly mean?
When you give it some thought, I’m sure you’d agree that all of Scripture can be classified under the category of the sweet sounds of grace, because it is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God—His God-breathed gift to us. But today I would like to sharpen our focus on just two of those sweet sounds in particular.
The first is found in Luke 23:34, recording the words of Christ as He hung on Golgotha’s cruel cross:
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
The second sound rings forth in 1 John 4:19.
We love because he first loved us.
How sweet is that! Forgiven and loved . . . forgiven and loved . . . the sweet sounds of grace tell us we are forgiven and loved. Jesus was big on both forgiveness and love because He knew how badly we need them both! He knew the only way to keep pain, sin, and death from having the last word was to pay the price that would purchase forgiveness and love for you and me. It is no small thing to be loved when you’re unlovable. And that is what we were when we were forgiven as sinners and enemies of Jesus. How sweet is that!
But it doesn’t end there. We are continually forgiven; and in spite of our need to be continually forgiven, we are completely loved! Of all the countless things we do that require the forgiveness of God, there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to love us less. When we divide the affections of our hearts, we are still loved by God. When we chase after worthless idols, we are still loved by God. When we look to things smaller than Jesus to do for us what only Jesus can do, we are still loved by God. We will be no more loved 10,000 years from now in glory than we are right now, even if right now is marked by sin. How sweet is that!
To press this truth down into our hearts is to understand what the Gospel is designed to do for us each and every day. Knowing that we are forgiven and loved frees us to stop pretending we are something we aren’t. It frees us to take off the mask we have been hiding behind for so long. It frees us to come out from behind the curtain we have been cringing behind for longer than we can remember. To know we are both forgiven and loved is to know we are treasured by the One who has forgiven and loved us. And the more we see ourselves as His treasure, the more we will begin to treasure Him. And how sweet is that!!
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Peter’s encounter with Jesus after His resurrection. You will remember that on the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied even knowing Christ three times. In his desperate fear Peter called own curses on himself and cried, “I do not know the man!” But forgiveness and love would not allow the story to end there . . .
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)
How sweet is that! Can you imagine how Peter was feeling after having denied his Lord? Yet here Jesus made it clear that Peter was both forgiven and loved. Here we are confronted with the sweet sounds of grace that restored Peter to his place of service in the kingdom of His Savior.
Regardless of where this finds you today, you are just like Peter! You have been given the forgiveness you need and the love you desire. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!