Apostle John was called up to heaven in chapter 4:1. There he saw what would take place after. He saw the scroll sealed up with 7 seals and the Lamb opened it one by one. When each seal was opened, the judgment was brought to the earth. When the 7th seal was about to be taken out, God takes time (chapter 7). And we can find the protection for his people and this is God's grace.
Same thing happened before the 7th trumpet was blown. God takes time and gives the image that God will protect his church (chapter 10 and 11). But at the end of chapter 10, John now was told 'You must again prophesy.' That was the reason he was banished, but God gives grace and asked him to prophesy. And we can learn that God's grace is free but it comes with a purpose. Therefore, we should try to find the purpose of the grace we have received. For example, the cancer survivor should think about why God gave him/her a second chance.
While Jesus was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery. In order to trap Jesus, they asked whether they can stone her or not. Instead of answering them Jesus said to them to stone her, but let the one who without sin stone at her first. This answer made them to think about themselves before stoning her. And by thinking about themselves, everyone had to leave the place because they knew that they were sinners, too. People tend to think about the size of sin and whether the sin is revealed or not. And that was the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (smaller and hidden sin).
After everyone left, Jesus told the woman 'I do not condemn you; go, from now on sin no more.' It shows two aspects of grace. One is preceding grace and the other is demanding grace. The only one who can condemn her was Jesus, yet he did not condemn. Instead he carried her sins to the cross. This is preceding grace. No condemn came first. Grace is not given as a condition. It was given first. But that was not the end. It was followed by from now on sin no more. It talks about the new life. The preceding grace was an invitation and motivation to the new life. That's what grace demands.
There are two kinds of grace, one is common grace which is given to everyone regardless of faith. The other is special grace comes through Jesus Christ. While we cannot reject the common grace, people can reject the special grace. In our texts there are two criminals crucified with Jesus. They look very similar in that they are crucified, yet their eternity is quite different. One received the grace and the other rejected it.
One of the criminals rejected grace because he was blind by his proud (self-conceit) he had as a descendant of Abraham. (We can conclude that he was a Jew who rebelled against the Rome with Barabas). Proud is the biggest enemy of grace. It makes reject or forget the grace. However, the other criminal received grace because he knew that he deserves the cross (self-awareness), and relied on Jesus. While the former commanded Jesus to save him, the latter pleaded Jesus only to remember him. And the latter was accepted Jesus.
We evaluate ourselves better than who we are and therefore grace fades away. However, we need to remind that we deserve nothing but the death on the cross. Then we will be able to open our eyes and learn that everything we have and enjoy is from God.