What a beautiful phrase this is in Scripture! It’s in the context of John introducing Jesus as the Word of God, and in a rich verse worth committing to memory this very moment, he writes, “from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Now, it’s worth noting that John’s original audience wasn’t just believers, but believers and unbelievers. If you read the whole book of John, it’s clear that when John says, “we have all received grace upon grace”, he’s not saying that everyone has received salvation. But all of us, believer and unbeliever alike have received the Son of God into this world. That’s what the old Christmas hymn is talking about when it says, “Joy to world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!”
Even to the unbeliever, it’s grace that Jesus has come into the world. The state of every human being who has ever lived is that he or she is a lawbreaker. And in God’s righteous law, the punishment that fits the crime is His eternal wrath. The fact that mankind wasn’t left alone in that bleak reality is grace. Instead of leaving us all to suffer for eternity, He gave His only Son to leave His place of eternal glory, come down and live a life of sorrow, and have the wrath of God poured out on Him on the cross. To what end? That for those who believe in Him, their sins were already paid for, and rather than have eternal punishment, they’ll have eternal joy with God, all to His glory. That’s grace.
It’s not just grace. John calls it “grace upon grace”. It’s grace heaped on grace. Here’s a serving of grace. Oh, that’s too much? Here’s some more for you. And some more.
For the believer, this is a feeling that never goes away. When we think about what Jesus did for His bride, the church, we realize that grace upon grace is almost an understatement, and that fills us with an incredible joy. Joy upon joy.