Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Importance of How We Receive Our Gifts

[Reflections from my quiet time this morning.]

"Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.' Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him." (John 13:26-27)

I've probably written about this before, but that last bit, verse 27, has always struck me. Jesus has been asked, first by Peter and then by John, who among the twelve apostles would betray Him, leading to His arrest and crucifixion.

Jesus' foreknowledge of His betrayer's identity doesn't strike me as odd. After all, Jesus is God in the flesh.
What gets me is this: Judas took the bread offered by Jesus and immediately Satan entered into Judas.
This is the opposite of what happens to Christians who, in the sacrament of Holy Communion, receive the bread. "This IS my body, given for you," Jesus tells us and in ways we can't fully understand, Jesus, His very life, and His grace enter us.

In non-sacramental ways, the Christian knows about receiving blessings through Jesus and experiencing gratitude, being overwhelmed by grace.

But here, in the upper room during the Passover Seder that Jesus had with the apostles on the night of His arrest, Judas receives bread from Jesus' hand and, instead of reacting with gratitude or a new appreciation for Jesus, Satan, the Evil One, entered into Judas.

I've thought about this and concluded that we can receive all sorts gifts from God (and do)--earthly life, relationships, work, homes, and even the gift of new and everlasting life through the crucified and risen Jesus, but still not acknowledge the gift or the Giver. And God isn't stinting in His gifts to us, even if we human beings find ways to selfishly grasp for those gifts, keeping them from others.

HOW we receive the gifts of God in Christ is really the key. It seems to me that when we receive them with openness, the Holy Spirit can use that openness to create things like gratitude and faith within us. ("No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit..." [1 Corinthians 12:3). But when, like Judas, we receive God's gifts as ho-hum matters or as only our due, the devil, the world, and our sinful selves pounce on us, robbing us of relationship with God, turning us away from God.

I pray that today I will receive all of God's gifts in Christ, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, with the openness that the Holy Spirit can turn into deepened gratitude and deepened faith.

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