I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:1-10
My wife sent out a request to our family. She wants to know what they want for Christmas. Whether they add things to their Amazon wish list, or an email or text, we hope to find out what our children and, most importantly, our grandchildren want for Christmas. Gift giving is fun – especially when the eyes of the little ones light up. What a joy to give when the gifts are well received and truly appreciated!
Would you ever consider that God delights in giving gifts we need and appreciate and receive well? “When he ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” This is a triumphal procession. I believe it is what is referenced in the Apostle’s Creed with the words, “He descended into hell.” Some find this a troubling phrase. If, however, you understand it to mean that Jesus went there to proclaim his victory and take captives with him in triumphal procession, it takes a different sense.
Look, however, at what happens afterward. He gives gifts to his people. Jesus’ reign is one of abundant grace. He overflows with kindness and love. He showers us with gifts. He pours out the Holy Spirit – perhaps the most important gift we can receive, then other spiritual gifts (more on that next week), as well as answered prayers, kindnesses that he moves others to give to us, and every good gift.
Jesus reigns and rules over all things. One day that will be clear to us all. One day that will not be tainted by our sin, the world’s corruption, or the devil’s interference. One day that will be perfect and that perfection will only magnify how good and gracious he truly is. That perfection will remove blinders to God’s goodness, and love. The need for God’s love will be dramatically different, but ever so much sweeter.