The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (verse 23)
As Paul began this letter, so now he ends.
Like all his letters, he’d begun by bestowing grace (together with peace) on those to whom he was writing. So, now, in closing, he speaks that same grace over his Philippian friends yet again.
I love the simplicity of this blessing. It’s clear that Paul is not drawing from his own resources to bless them, as if in his own power he had such capacity, but rather is simply affirming a gift of grace that is entirely dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
This is the grace that was lavished on us when we were redeemed through his blood (Ephesians 1:7-8), “lavished” being the translation of a word that means overflowing abundance – picture a waterfall cascading downward, water surging and splashing and crashing into its own deep pool, yet never stopping, continually overflowing, again and again.
This is the grace that was portrayed when the Master laid aside his garments and his rights, stooping so low, and washing his companions’ dirt-covered feet. He gave relief and refreshment, cleansing away grime, expressing the full extent of his love. Such grace.
This is the grace the disciples experienced with hands and mouths as they received broken shards of unleavened bread and ate and swallowed, hearing him say, “This is my body, given for you,” understanding the gift’s specific, deliberate nature. So, too, with the cup – tasting, drinking, swallowing – hearing his words, “This is the new covenant in my blood,”foreshadowing the ominous cost such grace would require.
This is the grace of our Lord, speaking blessing over his enemies, as from the cross he freely said, “Father, forgive them.” This is the grace of his pierced hands and feet, his speared side, his outpoured blood, suffering for our salvation. This is the grace that allowed him to cry, with undiminished voice, “It is finished,” having paid the full price that we, sinners, could be rescued.
This is the grace that welcomes us home, like a hen gathering her scattered chicks, or a father embracing the long-grieved prodigal, or a friend warmly opening the door of eternal dwellings to those for whom he laid down life.
This, and so much more, is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
May this grace overflow in our spirit, which is to say, beyond the limits of our mental capacities and emotional quotient, to infuse the core of our being with the deep, deep knowledge that we are eternally his beloved.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Dear Lord Jesus, I lay my spirit before you that I may receive an ever-deeper apprehension of your grace. May you pour it out afresh by the blessed Holy Spirit whom you have given me. Thank you. Praise your name.
Reflect: Take time in the Lord’s presence to simply speak this blessing over yourself, again and again. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with my spirit.” Receive.