The Posture of GRACE
The Posture of GRACE
Matthew 14:19 (NLT)
19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.
Most believers are very familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. It is found in all four gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6). Perhaps it is repeated four times because it provides such a definitive picture of GRACE – Jesus supplying to the crowd what they could not supply for themselves. While GRACE is most often defined as, “God’s unmerited favor,” another definition that is quite accurate is “God’s supply.” The definitions complement one another, in that it is because of God’s unmerited favor towards us that we receive His supply. But there is more about GRACE to be seen in this story, and it is found in what Jesus instructed the people to do before He broke the fish and loaves and spoke a blessing over them.
In the scripture above it says Jesus told the people to sit down. One translation says, “He commanded them to sit down (NKJV).” One might think that the Lord had everyone sit down to create an orderly distribution of the food. Thinking that would not be wrong. But beyond that there is more. And, it is found in understanding that the Greek word “sit” meant something different then than it does now. The Greek word for “sit” means to recline or lean back. It indicates a relaxed position – something other than sitting upright. Jesus was asking them to take a position of rest. It is in a position of rest that GRACE can most easily be received.
By looking at several definitions of the term “recline” it is possible to begin to see the importance of what Jesus asked the crowd to do that day. To recline can be defined as:
- “to cause or permit to incline backward” – Rest does not automatically come on us. In a sense we must give our permission to enter rest. When we rest, we are inviting Jesus to do what only He can do. Just as Jesus “commanded” the crowd to sit down, we are commanded in Hebrews… to “Labor to enter the rest…” If we fight it, or insist on doing things our way, rest will remain outside of our reach. Rest attracts GRACE. The Posture of GRACE is found in resting.
- “a relaxed position with the back supported” – Rest requires that we relax, and relaxation comes from trusting. Trusting is an indication that we are allowing the Lord to support us. Trust attracts GRACE. The posture of GRACE is found in trusting.
- “a leaning position” – When reclining, a person is leaning into a support (an elbow, a wall, another person.) The posture of GRACE is yielding to (leaning into) all God says we are, all He says we can do, and all He says we can have. The posture of GRACE is found in leaning into the identity He has given us.
The story of the feeding of the five thousand is so rich in its images of GRACE in action. But perhaps the greatest lesson of GRACE in this story is the one that reminds us GRACE is never about us and our efforts; it is always about God and His predisposition to be good to us. When our focus is on that, rest will become a lifestyle that allows us to face the most challenging of circumstances in victory!
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