June 03, 2010

Take-away Grace

John 1:29-34

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29


My wife and I were having lunch at our kitchen table. On the table were placemats that our grandchildren enjoy using when they visit us—filled with math questions and brain teasers. I asked Edith, “If you have nine apples and take away seven of them, how many apples do you have left?” Suspecting a trick question, she hesitated. I suggested that the answer might be either nine or seven. Since she was taking her own apples away, she could say she still had all of them—unless she took the seven too far away, and someone ate the other two. She groaned.

Then I asked, “If I have nine sins, and I take away seven of them, how many do I have left?” The correct answer: I have all nine sins left, because I can’t take away any of my sins. Now, if I have nine sins and Jesus takes away seven of them, how many do I have left? This is also a trick question. Jesus doesn’t take away just some of my sins; he takes away all of them.

Don’t you just love divine mathematics? “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your

sins …” (Psalm 103:2-3). That makes zero the most important number in the Bible. An old hymn matches John 1:29: “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin … Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free.”

God of abounding grace, today we multiply our praises for Jesus, who has not divided but has subtracted, not some, but all of our sin. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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