Oh, Grace Upon Grace!

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives the One who sent Me.”  John 13:20Image

How important are these words I’m meditating on today, Lord?  Only five verses earlier You use “Truly, truly.”  And here it is again.  Five verses ago You told me “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”  And here You are telling me to pay attention to what it means to be sent and how to treat the ones who are sent.

“[W]hoever receives the one I send receives Me…”  So, what exactly does it mean to receive?  Receive, in Greek, is “lambano.”  In this context it means to “lay hold of.”  Vine’s Expository Dictionary shares these other contextual definitions: “to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it…to take upon one’s self…to take what is one’s own, to take to one’s self, to make one’s own…to claim, procure, for one’s self…to associate with one’s self as companion, attendant.”  So, now I’m going to try these on for size.  “Whoever lays hold of someone I send, lays hold of Me.”  “Whoever takes one of My sent ones by the hand and allows them to be used of Me in their life, takes Me by the hand and allows Me to be used in their life.”  “Whoever takes one of My own and makes them their own, takes Me and makes Me their own.”  “Whoever becomes the companion or attendant of the one I send, becomes My companion and My attendant.”  That’s pretty significant.  This is awesome truth.

And it brought to my mind the word “hospitality.”  But I wanted to know what Your idea of hospitality is, Lord.  So I decided to deepen my treasure hunt.  I found that the Greek word used in the Bible for hospitality is “philoxenia.”  It combines the root word for “brotherly love” and “stranger, sojourner.”  But the way it is used in Scripture and how the people of Your day would have thought about it is different than our American idea.  Benjamin Corey represents the heart of hospitality as “one who loves strangers/immigrants like you would your own brother.”  And then, it didn’t stop there because the same word was used in conjunction with enemies.  So it also means “one who loves their enemies in the same way they love their brother.”  But,  I want to go a step farther than Mr. Corey.  When Romans 13 speaks of “practicing hospitality,” it’s not just about reaching out to strangers and sojourners we don’t know; it’s also about taking hold of fellow strangers and sojourners.  We, as believers are all just strangers in this land, so we shouldn’t only understand the plight of being a stranger, we ought to take hold of one another and encourage and walk with one another on this journey.  We are to become one another’s companions in love and service.  Just like Jesus has become ours.

And it brought to my mind the word “hospitality.”  But I wanted to know what Your idea of hospitality is, Lord.  So I decided to deepen my treasure hunt.  I found that the Greek word used in the Bible for hospitality is “philoxenia.”  It combines the root word for “brotherly love” and “stranger, sojourner.”  But the way it is used in Scripture and how the people of Your day would have thought about it is different than our American idea.  Benjamin Corey represents the heart of hospitality as “one who loves strangers/immigrants like you would your own brother.”  And then, it didn’t stop there because the same word was used in conjunction with enemies.  So it also means “one who loves their enemies in the same way they love their brother.”  But,  I want to go a step farther than Mr. Corey.  When Romans 13 speaks of “practicing hospitality,” it’s not just about reaching out to strangers and sojourners we don’t know; it’s also about taking hold of fellow strangers and sojourners.  We, as believers are all just strangers in this land, so we shouldn’t only understand the plight of being a stranger, we ought to take hold of one another and encourage and walk with one another on this journey.  We are to become one another’s companions in love and service.  Just like Jesus has become ours.

Earth was not Your home, Jesus.  Yet, as You were passing through as a stranger, sojourning in our land, You took on our illnesses and bore our diseases.  You bore Your cross, my cross.  Because You loved me, a stranger and enemy of God, so deeply and took my sin upon Yourself and bore my burden on the cross, You gave me the right to become a child of God!  But I must take hold of You.  You loved me as a brother and now, I must love You as a brother.  I must take You upon myself and carry Your burden as I accompany You on this stranger’s journey.  This is believing.  When I take You upon myself in this way, I take on all of You, all of Your fulness and all of Your grace, grace upon grace.  The more I take You upon me, the more I see that You are true.

I can’t stop thinking about grace upon grace.  I’ve seen this verse come true.  Grace upon grace is a beautiful thing to experience.  It comes with intimate experience.  I need to repeat some thoughts.  “Whoever lays hold of someone I send, lays hold of Me.”  “Whoever takes one of My sent ones by the hand and allows them to be used of Me in their life, takes Me by the hand and allows Me to be used in their life.”  “Whoever takes one of My own and makes them their own, takes Me and makes Me their own.”  “Whoever becomes the companion or attendant of the one I send, becomes My companion and My attendant.”   Now, Lord, I want to listen to Matthew 10:41-42 and take it all in.  “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.  And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”  If I bless a prophet and receive blessing in return from him, or I bless a righteous person and receive a blessing in return from him, oh, the greater blessing to bless another disciple because I receive Your blessing in return and not man’s blessing!  I receive grace upon grace!  It’s not that I dont lose my reward, I will by NO MEANS lose my reward, but I will receive it in Your fulness!

Lord, You have made this a family thing.  I need my Father to take care of me and love me.  But You’ve filled me with that love.  Now, it’s my turn to shed that love abroad in the same way that You did and do for me.  In as much as You loved me like You did and like You do, let me do so for my brethren.  “In as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.”  (Matthew 25:40)  Lord, first You did it all for me, the least of the least.  And You call me Your brother, Your sister.  Well, now Lord, I want to reciprocate that to others, to my fellow sojourners and to those who may one day become my siblings.  And there’s that word again, Lord.  “You have done it”, “poieo,” that doing that flows from You and You alone.  Oh, Lord, flow from me to the blessing of others that I may minister grace upon grace in You, with You, and through You.

 

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