For the next six Sundays I will be posting the Sunday devotional that I wrote for my church’s Lent devotional booklet. These will be a little bit different than my usual style: a little more reflection and devotiony, a little less story-based. I’ll also start with a Scripture reading and end with a prayer. This is my way of stepping back from the blog a bit during this Lenten season – thank you for your grace.
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again, he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (John 20:22)
Think about this for minute: Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples as they sat together on the evening of Easter Sunday, just hours after he had risen. The disciples didn’t do anything to earn this treasured gift. Jesus didn’t require them to perform a certain number of good deeds or even believe a certain doctrine. He didn’t even require that they profess their faith to him.
In fact, this very moment came on the heels of their betrayal of Jesus, just three days after they’d abandoned him to the Romans and allowed him to die on the cross.
But none of that mattered to Jesus. He didn’t hold it against them. Jesus simply offered his disciples peace, twice, signifying that he forgave them, and then breathed the essence of himself in the form of the Holy Spirit into them, no questions asked, no strings attached.
You know what’s even more amazing about this story? Jesus does the same for each one of us.
We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all separate ourselves from God through our thoughts, actions and words. Jesus knows this about us, and He loves us anyway – fully, completely and unconditionally.
We don’t have to jump through any hoops, prove ourselves to God, perform a certain number of good deeds, follow a certain set of laws or rules – we get the gift. Period. In spite of our past and even our present flaws, we get the gift of the Holy Spirit, no questions asked, no strings attached. Knowing full-well we will flounder and flail and fall, Jesus trusts us anyway. He trusts us with this most exquisite gift: himself.
Dear God, I am humbled by your generosity and your infinite grace. You know my flaws. You know my sins. Yet you lavish the ultimate gift on me, day after day after day. Thank you for trusting me with the most precious gift of all, the gift of the Holy Spirit in me, a gift I don’t deserve but still receive. Amen.
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