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First Gifts

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Free Gift, God's Gifts, God's Love

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you. When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.'”

(John 20:19-23 ESV)

I like how Jesus meets His disciples’ needs! There they are, terrified and confused, locked up in a room together for fear of being arrested by the same people who killed Jesus. They have heard wild reports all day—Jesus’ body is missing, the tomb is open, and some women even claim they have seen Him! But they themselves are still in doubt and fear.

And then Jesus comes to them. “Peace be with you!” He says. It’s a standard greeting, but it’s also exactly what they need first of all—the peace that comes from knowing that God has you in His hands and everything will ultimately be all right.

Then He shows them His hands and side, where He carries His wounds from the cross. Why? So they can be sure that this is Jesus Himself and no ghost, no demon—no lying spirit come to deceive them. There He is, their own dear Lord and teacher—wounded, certainly, but just as surely alive and well. Of course they were glad when they saw the Lord!

And then the commission. Jesus sends them out to pass on these same gifts of peace and joy to the people of the world, to everyone who will believe in Him. He gives them the Holy Spirit to be with them forever—and with Him, the authority to forgive sins. Because that is the fruit of Jesus’ cross—the fruit that gives life and not death to all of Adam and Eve’s sinful children. Because God loved us so much He became a Man and lay down His life for us, now we can be restored to peace and fellowship with God. Oh, better than that! Now, because of Jesus our Savior, we are children of God—and we will live with Him forever.

Jesus gives us these gifts today—peace, joy, forgiveness, and His own dear self to be with us. Where? Through His gifts of His Word and in Baptism and Communion. He knows that we will go through many hard times while we are waiting for His return. Jesus refuses to let us go through suffering alone. And so He gives us Himself even now as we wait for the day He returns in glory.

We Pray: Dear Lord, be with me and meet my needs today. Keep me with You forever. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on April 4, 2024
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. When you are stressed, how do you seek strength and hope in God?
2. Tell about a difficult time when Jesus met your needs.
3. What needs do you have right now? Ask the Lord to meet them for you.

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