“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” (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ gives us the preeminent example of grace in action. He increased in grace or favor with God and others (Luke 2:52 Luke 2:52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
American King James Version×), being a recipient of His Father’s blessings as well as the One the Father used to bless the whole world.
In this, Jesus set an example for His disciples to follow. All of us are to be both recipients of God’s grace and instruments of God’s grace to others, developing the same mindset He had. The apostle Peter instructed Christians, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 1 Peter 4:10As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
American King James Version×, NIV).
Jesus led the way in this. Again, He was the Father’s gift to the world, and He gave of Himself completely. What kind of grace did He personify and teach that He expects us to show, to live by and to be a part of our lives? How was Jesus a person of grace?
Jesus’ astounding origin
The prologue to the apostle John’s Gospel explains who Jesus was, setting the stage for this. John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×tells us, “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.”
Notice how Jesus Christ is characterized here—as “full of grace and truth.” Many have recognized “grace and truth” here as a reference to a phrase used repeatedly in the Old Testament in describing the character of God, often rendered “mercy and truth.” The Hebrew for “mercy” in this phrase, though, has a broader meaning. It’s the word hesed, which was mentioned earlier in relation to grace. It has the sense of lovingkindness, goodness, steadfast love, covenant faithfulness and devotion.
Amazingly, the God described this way in the Old Testament was not just the Father but the One who as God interacted with mankind—the Word who became Jesus Christ.
The Word, through whom God created all things (John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 The same was in the beginning with God.
 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×; John 1:10 John 1:10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
American King James Version×; Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
American King James Version×; Hebrews 1:2 Hebrews 1:2Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
American King James Version×), became a human being. We see here that the grace and truth that characterizes God came to us in the form of a flesh-and-blood man living among us.
The apostle John explains to us regarding Jesus Christ in 1 John 1:1-3 1 John 1:1-3  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;)
 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×(NLT): “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard . . .”
John tells us that he and the other disciples beheld the very Word of life: “We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands.” They put their arms around Him. They shared meals with Him. They lived with Him. They were a part of His life. They saw it all. And it was a profound experience to actually be there with Him constantly during that time.
Jesus Christ brought abundant grace
John further explains: “John [the Baptist] bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:15-16 John 1:15-16  John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
American King James Version×).
The phrase “grace for grace” is a little difficult to understand in English. The meaning is simply that we have received through Him an abundance of grace or favor. The New Living Translation says here, “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.” The New International Version likewise translates this as “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Green’s Literal Translation renders this, “And out of His fullness we all received, and grace on top of grace.”
Another way to put it would be to say that “grace for grace” means abundant grace. This is what the apostle John saw in the life of Jesus Christ—favor and blessing superior to all that had come previously, superior to anything that had been available before.
Now, says John, we have grace being extended to us personally by the Word—done in a most astonishing way. The Word, who was with God and was God (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
American King James Version×), the One through whom God had created all things including humankind (verse 3), came down from heaven to become a flesh-and-blood human being (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×). Now He was a man Himself showing, giving out and pouring forth God’s grace to other people in a way that was undeniably real to them.
What did this grace look like in real life? The Gospels record many examples, of which we’ll cover a few. The best way to understand grace is to understand this: What did Jesus do? How did He extend grace? How was it exemplified in His life? How should we understand what He did? And then we have to ask the all-important question: What, then, do we do?
What grace looked like as demonstrated by Jesus Christ
Let’s first look at Jesus’ encounter with a man who was paralyzed in Mark 2:1-12 Mark 2:1-12  And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
 And straightway many were gathered together, so that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word to them.
 And they come to him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
 And when they could not come near to him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the sick of the palsy, Son, your sins be forgiven you.
 But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
 Why does this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said to them, Why reason you these things in your hearts?
 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?
 But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he said to the sick of the palsy,)
 I say to you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house.
 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
American King James Version×: “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.
“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’”
Jesus knew He was going to heal the man. But He went beyond restoring the man’s physical body, saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven you”!
“And some of the scribes [who were part of the religious establishment of that day] were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”
The scribes were right. Indeed, no one could forgive sins but God alone. They failed to see that God was right there before them at that moment!
“But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk”?
“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’”
The scribes must have been startled that Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking. But they were absolutely shocked at what happened next!
“Immediately he [who’d been paralyzed] arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’”
This was unheard of. A person’s sins were forgiven along with the healing of paralysis right before their very eyes. Now grace was coming through Jesus Christ—being shown through the Word in the flesh who was forgiving and healing them on the spot. The people were rightly amazed!
Another remarkable healing
In Mark 7:31-37 Mark 7:31-37  And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came to the sea of Galilee, through the middle of the coasts of Decapolis.
 And they bring to him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand on him.
 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plain.
 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He has done all things well: he makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
American King James Version×we find the record of another remarkable healing: “Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him.
“And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.
“Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’” It was clearly hard for them to contain their excitement and amazement.
Here, as in the previous example, we see that Jesus simply extended grace to the man. It was His to give, and He gave it.
Healing of an infirm woman
In Luke 13:10-17 Luke 13:10-17  And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.
 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said to the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
 The Lord then answered him, and said, You hypocrite, does not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, see, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
American King James Version×we find another amazing healing. It occurred on the Sabbath, which brought Jesus into conflict with the religious teachers of the time who had imposed severe restrictions on what could be done that day—far beyond the requirements of God’s law. Let’s note what happened:
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’
“And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.’
“The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’
“And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”
A number of things are notable about this healing, but two in particular stand out. One is that Jesus uses this as a teachable moment to show the kind of compassion we should have on those in such sad circumstances. Another is that, as in the two examples covered above, the woman didn’t directly ask for healing. Jesus saw a person in need, and did what was within His power to alleviate that need.
Jesus heals a leper
Some of Jesus’ healings become much more revealing and meaningful when we understand the historical and cultural background of the events. One of these is found in Mark 1:40-45 Mark 1:40-45  And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him, If you will, you can make me clean.
 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and said to him, I will; be you clean.
 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
 And he straightly charged him, and immediately sent him away;
 And said to him, See you say nothing to any man: but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.
 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
American King James Version×where Jesus healed a leper.
In those days leprosy was considered to be a curse from God as a result of sin. Because it was a contagious disease, lepers were quarantined, required to live “outside the camp”—away from towns and villages and contact with other people. A leper had to visually signify that he carried disease by wearing torn clothing and unkempt hair, covering his mouth and lower part of his face and crying out, “Unclean, Unclean!” when near other people (Leviticus 13:45-46 Leviticus 13:45-46  And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bore, and he shall put a covering on his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.
American King James Version×).
Leprosy was a horrible disease, made worse by the fact that lepers were viewed as having done something so evil that God had cursed them in punishment for their sins.
Religious leaders developed strict rules to prevent lepers from having contact with others. Lepers were not allowed to come within six feet of an uninfected person lest contamination or defilement be spread. If the wind was blowing from a leper toward others, he had to stay at least 100 cubits (150 feet) away. These weren’t God’s rules. They were manmade rules added onto what God had said regarding preventing disease.
Lepers were so detested and despised by others that it wasn’t long before the lepers came to detest and despise themselves. They weren’t just physically tormented, they were mentally tormented as well. Many likely would’ve killed themselves, but that would’ve violated God’s commandment against murder so they couldn’t find escape that way.
If you were a leper, you had to live away from other people by yourself or with other lepers. Your skin had open, oozing, stinking sores. No one could touch you—not your husband, not your wife, not your children, not your parents, not your friends—no one. No one could ever hug you, shake your hand or pat you on the back. You were considered an untouchable person.
And because you were cut off from contact with other human beings, you could never go to the temple to offer atonement for your sins, so you were perpetually cut off not only from other human beings, but also from God. You were basically one of the living dead—despised, rejected, cut off from mankind and also cut off from God. You would be this way until you died. You were abandoned. You were nameless and faceless. You had no hope. This is the desperate situation of the leprous man who came to Jesus.
Again, we should understand that this treatment went far beyond God’s intent with the quarantine laws. In fact, the quarantine laws were part of God’s grace, meant to protect the nation and teach important lessons—and they were given by the One who became Jesus! People could have made an effort to find ways to still associate with lepers, but that was just not done.
Picking up the story in Mark 1:40 Mark 1:40And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him, If you will, you can make me clean.
American King James Version×: “Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’”
Notice that the leper didn’t directly ask to be healed—he knelt before Jesus and said simply, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” He expressed his complete faith that Jesus could heal him.
Luke, being a physician, in his parallel description of this event adds the detail that the man was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12 Luke 5:12And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and sought him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.
American King James Version×), indicating that the man had a very severe case and may well have been dying of the disease. Regardless, the man’s appearance must have been horrible.
Then Jesus did something unthinkable in that culture that would’ve shocked anyone who witnessed it: “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed’” (Mark 1:41 Mark 1:41And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and said to him, I will; be you clean.
American King James Version×).
Jesus ignored the rule requiring at least six feet between lepers and non-lepers. He reached out and touched this man that others saw as cursed. This would’ve shocked everyone around, because no one touched lepers! But then, right before their eyes, “immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:42 Mark 1:42And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
American King James Version×).
The leprosy was gone! This went against everything the people witnessing this would’ve thought and held to be true about lepers.
And having healed the leper, Jesus told the man to do something. “He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them’” (Mark 1:43-44 Mark 1:43-44  And he straightly charged him, and immediately sent him away;
 And said to him, See you say nothing to any man: but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.
American King James Version×).
Since the man was now healed, why did Jesus tell the healed leper to go to the priest and make the required offerings? First, because this was a requirement of the law, which Jesus upheld. But the emphasis on it likely had more behind it,for bodily healing was only part of what the man needed. What he needed further was to be fully restored as a member of the community. And the healing alone would not accomplish that. Without being officially pronounced healed and cleansed by a priest, the man would remain an outcast, cut off from his family and community (Leviticus 13:1-6 Leviticus 13:1-6  And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests:
 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that has the plague seven days:
 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more:
 And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.
American King James Version×).
So Jesus here performed two acts of grace toward this man: He not only healed him of a horrible disfiguring disease, but He also made sure to emphasize to the man the way to restoring him to family, friends and society—to no longer being viewed as a cursed outcast.
The woman with a flow of blood
The healing of the leper has parallels with a healing recorded in Mark 5: “Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:25-26 Mark 5:25-26  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
American King James Version×).
As with the leper, it’s easy to read over this and not really grasp what this meant for the woman. What did this mean in the first century? She had an ongoing flow of blood. That meant she was unclean and untouchable (Leviticus 15:25 Leviticus 15:25And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.
American King James Version×). If she were married, her husband could not touch her lest he also become unclean. If she had children, they also could not touch her, nor she touch them.
Again, these laws that the One who became Jesus had given as part of God’s grace were being misapplied, with ceremonial defilements magnified above the need for compassion. The law had merely required that a person who had contact with someone with a flow of blood bathe and wait out a short period of uncleanness until sunset. People could easily have routinely contracted that brief impurity for the sake of spending time with those suffering—or they could have often just taken steps to avoid direct contact. But sufferers came to be regarded as cursed and repulsive—and so were avoided.
This had been this woman’s lot in life for 12 excruciatingly long years. Perhaps she hadn’t felt a human touch for all that time. She probably hadn’t been hugged, or kissed, or held—not by her husband, not by her children, not by family, not by friends. She was unclean and an outcast.
And she was not getting better. She was getting worse. And to add to the indignity, she had spent all the money she had on doctors trying to find a cure for her condition, and nothing had worked. She was in a very dark and desperate place. She was almost out of hope.
Her tragic circumstances seem very much like those of the leper, who also was hopeless and without the kindness of human touch. But Jesus Christ helps the helpless and gives hope to the hopeless.
“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’ Immediately the fountain [or outflow] of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction” (Mark 5:27-29 Mark 5:27-29  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
American King James Version×).
This is astounding! She touched Jesus’ garment and immediately felt that she had been healed. Perhaps it was like a shock of electricity that went through her. But she wasn’t the only one who sensed this—Jesus felt it too.
“And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My clothes?’
“But His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, “Who touched Me?”’ And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.
“But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction’” (Mark 5:30-34 Mark 5:30-34  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
 And his disciples said to him, You see the multitude thronging you, and say you, Who touched me?
 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
 And he said to her, Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace, and be whole of your plague.
American King James Version×).
Again we see a remarkable story of God’s power and grace at work in the life of Jesus Christ!
Jesus’ concern for children
The Gospels record how Jesus often concerned Himself with the needs of others. In His day children were rightly viewed as a blessing from God (Psalms 127:3-5 Psalms 127:3-5  See, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
 Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
American King James Version×), but were at times overlooked when it came to adult matters such as spiritual discussions.
Jesus, however, went out of His way to show concern to even very young children. We find this recorded in Mark 10:13-16 Mark 10:13-16  And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said to them, Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.
American King James Version×: “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
“But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”
Jesus was fully dedicated to and involved in the most important mission in the history of humankind. But what did He do when parents brought their little children to Him? He took time out of His day to not only pay attention to them, but to “bless” them—to ask God for His blessing on them.
To Jesus Christ, no one was too little or too unimportant for His time—even the youngest and tiniest of human beings. He would treat them also with grace and concern, just as He treated all others.
Feeding of the multitudes
While many of Christ’s miracles were one on one, as in those noted above, in some cases they affected thousands at a time. These were the feeding of the multitudes, a miracle Jesus performed twice. (For accuracy’s sake we note that Jesus said the miracles were done through Him, giving credit to God the Father, saying in John 5:30 John 5:30I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
American King James Version×, “I can of Myself do nothing,” and in John 14:10 John 14:10Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
American King James Version×, “the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” Still, it’s proper to speak of Jesus doing miracles, since Scripture itself states that “He healed” various people.)
We find the first instance of feeding thousands in Mark 6. Feeling the pressures from the multitudes following Him, Jesus and the apostles “departed to a deserted place” for some quiet time alone (verses Mark 6:31-32 Mark 6:31-32  And he said to them, Come you yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
American King James Version×). The story then picks up in verses Mark 6:34-44 Mark 6:34-44  And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.  And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came to him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:  Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.  He answered and said to them, Give you them to eat. And they say to him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?  He said to them, How many loaves have you? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.  And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the green grass.  And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.  And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.  And they did all eat, and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.  And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
American King James Version×when the crowds catch up with Him:
“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”
Notice here what motivates Jesus. Although He had slipped away to a deserted area for some much-needed rest and privacy, when the crowds caught up He “was moved with compassion for them.” He was a naturally compassionate and empathetic person.
“When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.’
“But He answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And they said to Him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?’”
Two hundred denarii was more than half a year’s wages, so this was a huge crowd to feed—so large that it would’ve required the equivalent of many thousands of dollars! Besides, it was now late in the day, and it would’ve taken time for the apostles or the crowd to disperse to nearby villages to find enough food to eat—if that were even possible at this late hour.
“But He said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ And when they found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’
“Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.
“So they all ate and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.”
From five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus fed about 5,000 men—not counting women and children (Matthew 14:21 Matthew 14:21And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
American King James Version×), which may have brought the crowd to about 15,000 people. And not wasting anything, they collected 12 baskets of leftovers!
What was a big part of Christ’s motivation for this incredible miracle of generosity and concern? He “was moved with compassion” for those assembled. He truly and deeply cared for others. He was unwilling to see anyone go away hungry for the night.
This is expressed even more deeply in a near-repeat of the miracle in Mark 8. There Mark says in Mark 8:1-3 Mark 8:1-3  In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them,
 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.
American King James Version×: “In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.’”
As before, He is motivated by compassion because He truly cares about people. All this time He shows His and the Father’s care by healing and teaching large numbers of people, but He also notices something—He sees that they are hungry. So again He multiplies a few loaves and fishes to feed the crowd, this time about 4,000 men (Mark 8:4-9 Mark 8:4-9  And his disciples answered him, From where can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?
 And he asked them, How many loaves have you? And they said, Seven.
 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and broke, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.
 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.
 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
American King James Version×)—again, not including the women and children (Matthew 15:38 Matthew 15:38And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
American King James Version×).
So once more we see God’s care and grace in action, personified in the life and actions of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus resurrects a widow’s son
Jesus Christ’s compassion led to other acts of grace, kindness and love—including raising people from the dead! We read of an example of this in Luke 7:11-17 Luke 7:11-17  And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
 Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not.
 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bore him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say to you, Arise.
 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God has visited his people.
 And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
American King James Version×:
“Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
“When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.
“So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people.’ And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.”
Here again we have a dramatic miracle where Jesus wasn’t even asked to perform one. As Luke records, Jesus and many of His followers are about to enter the city when they meet a funeral procession bearing the only son of a widowed mother. Jesus had compassion on the woman who had lost her son, stopped the procession and raised the son to life on the spot—without being asked.
He showed God’s grace by unexpectedly giving life to the woman’s son—just as He had led His prophet Elisha to do in nearly the same place centuries earlier (2 Kings 4:8-37 2 Kings 4:8-37  And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
 And she said to her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passes by us continually.
 Let us make a little chamber, I pray you, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he shall turn in thither.
 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.
 And he said to him, Say now to her, Behold, you have been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for you? would you be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among my own people.
 And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Truly she has no child, and her husband is old.
 And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.
 And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, you shall embrace a son. And she said, No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your handmaid.
 And the woman conceived, and bore a son at that season that Elisha had said to her, according to the time of life.
 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.
 And he said to his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.
 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.
 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door on him, and went out.
 And she called to her husband, and said, Send me, I pray you, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.
 And he said, Why will you go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
 Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not your riding for me, except I bid you.
 So she went and came to the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite:
 Run now, I pray you, to meet her, and say to her, Is it well with you? is it well with your husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:
 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD has hid it from me, and has not told me.
 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?
 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go your way: if you meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute you, answer him not again: and lay my staff on the face of the child.
 And the mother of the child said, As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. And he arose, and followed her.
 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Why he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.
 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid on his bed.
 He went in therefore, and shut the door on them two, and prayed to the LORD.
 And he went up, and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands: and stretched himself on the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself on him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
 And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in to him, he said, Take up your son.
 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.
American King James Version×), and Elijah before that (1 Kings 17:17-24 1 Kings 17:17-24  And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.  And she said to Elijah, What have I to do with you, O you man of God? are you come to me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?  And he said to her, Give me your son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed.  And he cried to the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, have you also brought evil on the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?  And he stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray you, let this child's soul come into him again.  And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.  And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother: and Elijah said, See, your son lives.  And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.
American King James Version×). This was especially important for a widow in this culture, since her only son would’ve been expected to care for her in her old age. Jesus knew this and gave her a double blessing—blessing her at that moment by giving her back her son, and blessing her in the future by restoring the son who would care for her in her later years.
The woman caught in adultery
Many times Jesus’ enemies tried to trap Him and accuse Him, even when it came to matters of forgiveness and mercy. We find a striking example of this in John 8:2-11 John 8:2-11  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down, and taught them.
 And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the middle,
 They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you?
 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the middle.
 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?
 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.
American King James Version×:
“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’
“This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.”
They were trying to trap and discredit Jesus, but He turned the tables on them, causing them to be convicted by their own consciences.
“Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’
“She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
The woman had escaped death by stoning by the slimmest of margins, and she knew it. She had been caught in her sin and was obviously guilty. She deserved the penalty the law demanded. And it would likely have been carried out except for God’s saving grace through the intervention of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Himself had given the judgment on adultery in the Old Testament. But this situation was a total mockery, with those guilty under the law set to mete out “justice.” Jesus confounded them, leaving no witnesses for a conviction, and thereby saved this woman’s life. But Jesus also had the authority of judgment from the Father (John 5:22 John 5:22For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
American King James Version×) and the power to forgive sins—and He expressed God’s mercy. In fact, He would soon take the penalty she deserved on Himself.
Does this woman’s story have anything to do with us? It does, because her story is our story. Each of us was also a sinner, caught dead to rights in our guilt and sins. We deserved that same death penalty. But Jesus stepped in and said to us by His actions, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Jesus gave His life for us that we might be forgiven and have that awful penalty removed—and then live the right way!
Learning grace from Jesus Christ’s example
As we have seen, the Gospels repeatedly show Jesus Christ exemplifying grace in His thoughts, actions and teaching. We encourage you to regularly read the Gospels to learn more from His example.
If we are to be good stewards of God’s grace in ministering that to others as Peter admonishes us to do (1 Peter 4:10 1 Peter 4:10As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
American King James Version×), this is the kind of compassion, mercy and love that we must continually demonstrate in our lives.
If we were to sum up what we have seen in this chapter, we might say that grace is the very nature and character of God that He expects us to exemplify in our lives.
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of this grace in action. May we all follow His example in every way!