The Weekly Word - A Devotion for the Week of September 21
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)
Think about this for a 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 abide by a certain doctrine. He didn’t even require that they profess their faith to Him in that moment.
In fact, this very interaction between Jesus and His disciples came on the heels of their betrayal of Him, just three days after they had abandoned Him to the Romans and left Him to die on the cross.
And yet, none of what had happened in the past seemed to matter to Jesus in this moment. He didn’t hold his disciples’ shortcomings against them. Jesus didn’t require that they repent; in fact, he didn’t even mention any of the events that had transpired. Instead, Jesus’ very first words to His followers were to offer His peace, signifying that He forgave them. Then He breathed the essence of Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit, into them. No questions asked, no strings attached.
What’s even more amazing about this story is that Jesus does the same for us. We make mistakes. We sin. We separate ourselves from God through our thoughts, actions and words. Jesus knows this; He sees this and intuitively understands this about us, and He loves us anyway – fully, completely and unconditionally.
Like the disciples, we don’t have to prove ourselves to God. In spite of our past and even our present sins, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Knowing full-well we will flounder and fall, Jesus trusts us with the most precious gift: Himself.
Dear God, I am humbled by Your generosity and Your infinite grace. You know my flaws. You know my sins. Yet You give me the ultimate gift, day after day. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit in me – a gift I don’t deserve but receive with gratitude. Amen.