“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” –Luke 7:47-48
John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” found faith in Jesus onboard a ship as it was floundering in a storm. This was not just any ship; the ship he was on was a slave ship. In the mid 1700s, Newton’s professional trade was the trafficking of human life.
Newton and his crew would sail from England to Africa where they would pick up men, women, and children who had been captured in tribal raids. They would trade arms and other goods for the finest of the prisoners. They would then chain them to prevent suicides and lay them below deck side by side. As many as 600 people were crammed together on the ship as it made its three week voyage. Due to the inhumane conditions, at times, up to 20% of those captured would die.
After becoming a Christian, Newton left the sea for good and became a priest. He then wrote this hymn. You have probably sung it before, but read these words carefully knowing now why he wrote them.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
God’s mercy and grace drastically changed John Newton’s life. He understood God’s unconditional love better than most. When I read those words through the eyes of someone who truly realized he did not deserve grace, I am humbled. Too often I chalk up all the good things I have done and wait for what I think I deserve. However, according to the Scriptures, the truth of the matter is that I deserve judgment. And, I don’t really want that! I am thankful for God’s generosity and that He sent His one and only Son to die for us so that we would not get what we deserve, but His generous love instead. This is truly amazing grace!
Think of an experience in your life when God’s grace was particularly apparent in your life. Thank God for His amazing grace!
Matthew 20:13-16; John 1:5-14; Ephesians 2:4-10